JVC X75 D-ILA Projector Review

It's yet again that time of the year where we wait to see if JVC drop the ball, so?

by Phil Hinton
Home AV Review

13

Reference Status
JVC X75 D-ILA Projector Review
SRP: £6,999.00

Introduction

We always look forward to this time of year when the majority of projector manufacturers unveil their products for the coming year ahead. This time of year also makes us feel less guilty about sitting in completely light sealed cinema rooms watching movies; what with the dark nights rolling in and snow outside, seriously there is 3 inches outside as I write this. JVC have been consistent in releasing a new line up of projectors on a yearly basis, and this year, they have also added a mid-range model in the guise of the DLA-X55RB, which is being tested by Steve Withers. This new model could have some bearing on the DLA-X75RB we are testing here today. It has many of the past high-end features such as E-Shift 2 and a full Colour Management System, so the X75 is going to have a harder time convincing consumers it is worth the extra cash, right?

One of the interesting things that I picked up on when previewing the new models back in October was that the chassis design has stayed the same as the previous X7 and X70 models. Usually JVC, like many other projector manufacturers, employ a two year cycle on the chassis design before adding or improving on it. This year is an exception as they stick to the same chassis and this perhaps points to how they have managed to introduce the more affordable X55 model to the line-up. In any case, there are new improved features on board the X75 and after allowing our production sourced sample to rack up at least 90 hours on the bulb, over the last few days, we are about to find out just how well this new high-end model performs.

Design and Connections

As we mentioned in the introduction the DLA-X75RB keeps the same chassis design of the previous X7 and X70 models. This means that most of the new features are on the inside of the projector's body. And it's still a large body to behold at roughly 455mmx179mmx472mm (WxHxD) in size and weighing in at 16kg. The body keeps its gloss black finish and the build quality still feels assured and well put together, as you would expect at the price point. Unlike the budget models in this year’s line-up the DLA-X75RB also retains the electronic lens cover which closes when the projector is not in use to keep the dust at bay. With the lens centrally mounted the exhaust ports can be found at the edges of the body left and right and to the underside are four adjustable feet for table top mounting.

JVC DLA-X75RB

Moving around the back we find the same connections layout as seen on previous models with two HDMI ports, one component input, PC/VGA input, RS232C control port, the 3D emitter port and two powered triggers. Underneath the inputs is the power connector and to the right of this are manual controls to access the menu system if you lose the remote control. It seems strange that we have not seen any additional HDMI inputs over the last three years, so we can only speculate that it is a limitation of this chassis design. However, saying all that we can’t see the lack of any additional HDMI inputs being a huge problem for most users who will no doubt be using an AVR as a video switcher in their systems.

The remote control supplied with the DLA-X75 is again almost identical to last year’s handset which is a long and slim affair with a logical key layout that is easy to learn quickly. The remote sits neatly in the hand with the important every day button presses within easy reach. Whilst it is a plastic remote, it doesn’t feel cheap and we never had any issues with sync between the handset and projector. There is an additional MPC direct button on the remote this year for direct access to the E-Shift MPC controls, this replaces the CMD button from last year, which moves to replace the Anamo (Anamorphic stretch) button.

JVC DLA-X75RB

Another change from last year is the introduction of new 3D glasses and RF emitter. The new emitter is small and neat and slots into the connection port of the unit, staying out of sight. This is a big improvement over the IR stand-alone unit supplied with last year’s model. We found the sync with the glasses to be faultless with no drop out at any time. Plus using RF means that we can use our remote controls for sources without the room being flooded with IR signals, an issue with last year’s models. The new glasses (model PK-AG3) are far lighter than last year’s and also have nice large lenses which don’t restrict the view in any way and let in a good amount of light without any obvious tinting. In our opinion the new RF emitter being hidden at the rear of the projector is also a big plus point.

Features

This is not a 4K projector. That is an important fact to get out of the way. If you read the JVC marketing materials you could be forgiven for thinking that the X55, X75 and X95 are 4K machines. The confusion surrounds the E-Shift 2 technology which is used to double the pixel count by shifting the image diagonally within the optical path. However, the X75 still uses three 1920 x 1080 D-ILA chips and not native 4K chips. It is also restricted in that it cannot be fed a 4K video feed and cannot display a 4K image. So as you can see the JVC marketing can be called vague at best and, at worst, misleading in the 4K terminology. That’s not to say that E-shift 2 is unwelcome. It is a very interesting twist (or shift) and produces some very good results in terms of image quality, just remember it is not 4K and you cannot add what doesn’t already exist.

JVC DLA-X75RB

There are some big changes with E-Shift 2 with a new menu system and the opportunity to switch it off, which you could only do last year by entering the service menu. We are given a choice of profiles for the MPC which is part of the E-shift system, these are Film, High Resolution, HD, SD, Dynamic and Off. Under each setting you then have options for Enhance, Dynamic Contrast and Smoothing. Each selection adjusts the perceived sharpness of the image and addresses different image frequencies to figure out where to apply some sharpening or raised contrast. This is very similar in effect to Reality Creation from Sony and the Detail Clarity processor 4 on the new Panasonic PT-AT6000E. The only difference is that this works when E-Shift is engaged. Last year we had no real choice over the MPC settings or as much flexibility as we do this time around. In the X70 we found E-Shift to be beneficial as it didn’t add any unwanted edge ringing or any obvious artefacts. It added an acceptable sharpening and improvement to motion that we saw as a benefit.

This time around with so many choices there are some downfalls if you are looking for image stability and accuracy. Some selections do add a very noticeable sharpening and ringing to fine edges and if you get completely carried away you can make images look completely processed. We found that the film selection on default settings didn’t add any unwanted effects and provided a nicely balanced image that didn’t change the intended look of material. In other settings it was obvious that processing was being applied and as an example, in high resolution a heavy rain storm in a movie clip had a very odd look as the rain was highlighted with white edges completely ruining the scene. Obviously such controls will be used in high settings by some users who feel they like and accept the look and that’s fair enough. These types of features are very much a personal choice, but if you want the benefit of E-Shift 2 without any processing errors then we suggest the Film mode on its default settings.

JVC DLA-X75RB

Other features on the DLA-X75RB have been introduced to help those who want to run the projector for a while before getting a professional calibration (and with a projector of this level we highly recommend that you put aside the budget to have this done). THX certification is once again on board and with that comes the THX picture preset which attempts to produce an image that is close to the industry standards out-of-the-box. You can see how well this measures in the test area of the review under the tab above. Once again we get the Screen adjustment mode for matching the X75 to your screen material with a total of 255 possible modes (you may have to update the firmware according to the JVC website).

Also new this year to the X75 is auto-calibration using built-in software and a Spyder4Pro or Spyder4Elite (optional extras) to run through the greyscale set up. There doesn’t appear to be an automated CMS facility. We were not in a position to test this as we use Klein K10 and i1pro meters and didn’t have a Spyder4 to hand. However, as the greyscale is the number one area of the image to get right and to check over long use of the bulb, this auto feature should prove valuable to those who choose not to go the professional route. If you do go the calibrator route then the X75 has all the available controls under its ISFccc certification including a CMS, Greyscale and Gamma editor to make sure a very accurate image can be dialed in. Again, see our test results for more details on this.

Another interesting new addition is the Environmental Setting control. By entering your rough screen size, viewing distance and wall colour, the marketing materials proclaim that the X75 will adjust the image to suit your environment. However, no matter what we tried, we didn’t find any use for this or visible change in the image. Curious.

JVC DLA-X75RB

One feature we personally cannot live without here at AVForums is the lens memory function. Owners of 2.35:1 screens can now enjoy up to 10 memories to store the usual aspect ratios, and those not so usual, so you have all bases covered. There is very little brightness drop in zooming like this and as a result the functionality has almost removed the need for an expensive anamorphic lens completely. The change between ratios is still a little slow compared to the Panasonic system, but we don’t see that as an issue to be honest. Watching your favourite scope movies on a scope screen and with the benefits of E-shift 2 and JVC’s now famous film like images is an experience we would recommend to any film fan. For those who want to stick with their existing Anamorphic lenses then the X75 still has the stretch facility on board. One final addition here is a pincushion adjustment for use with a curved screen.

Rounding off the features are the Clear Motion Drive settings for the frame interpolation system. This has not changed from last year and remains very much a user preference setting. The X75 also retains the powered lens cover for when the projector is not in use and the pixel adjustment tool which offers 121 adjustment points to check the convergence.

Menu System

Those familiar with the JVC line up of projectors over the last few years will also be experienced with the menu system that hasn’t changed in its layout over that time. Some new features have been added and now have corresponding menu sections, but for the most part the menus should be familiar.

JVC DLA-X75RB

Under the main menu we have number of picture modes and user settings (5) as well as the usual picture profiles such as Film, Cinema, Natural (Default), Stage, 3D and THX. Again we also have a selection of Colour Profiles which includes the Standard selection which this year is a little over saturated against Rec.709 compared to the last two years where it was slightly under. The other selections are all much wider in varying degrees. Colour temperature can be set to 6500K which does a good job, for an out-of-the-box setting, with the greyscale tracking and Gamma has quite a number of presets and a separate custom menu for set up. The dark/light and colour tone controls remain here and if employed carefully can be of some limited use, however we would always recommend leaving them at default and making adjustments in the greyscale and gamma settings for complete image accuracy.

As posted above there is a new menu section for the MPC controls as well as a new menu page for the environmental controls. Lens memory has a dedicated menu and button on the remote for direct access to save profiles and CMD has an off switch with is always good to see. Finally the lens aperture is also still available in the advanced menu with its full 16 steps.

Out-of-the-Box Measurements

As always in this section of the review we set out to measure each of the available picture modes and picture options, to find those that are the closest to the industry standards for film and TV playback. In doing so we can quickly find what the best settings are likely to be with a display and with the contrast and brightness controls set for the review environment, we can get a good idea of how close the picture settings can get to our desired goal.

With the JVC DLA-X75 we are actually given a few choices in terms of out-of-the-box settings to use, from THX to User modes. In this section of the review we feel it is interesting enough to show just what the different settings and results are with the X75, so let’s start with the THX mode.

Note:These measurements were taken after 90 hours was put onto the bulb of the DLA-X75RB.

JVC DLA-X75RB

Starting with the greyscale and we can see a nice parallel track of the red, green and blue points, which should mean that a two point correction will bring them together easily at our desired 100% point. As Blue is down by 5% and Red and Green just above the fold we do get higher DeltaE errors as we add more luminance to the signal, however we only detected a very slight yellow cast to images on screen and while watching film material, which most users would be happy with for an out of the box setting. Gamma was a little off with black hitting 2.4 and the high end just hitting 2.2 but this curve actually didn’t have a negative impact on image quality overall. This is a very good set of results for an out-of-the-box preset.

JVC DLA-X75RB

The colour gamut results are also very good in the THX mode with only the white balance error shifting our secondary Cyan and Magenta towards green and red respectively. Overall DeltaE errors are under 4 and the most important point, Luminance (brightness) of our colour points is also excellent. Again, after 90 hours on the bulb this is a very respectable result. So quickly moving on to the 6500K setting in user mode and the colour profile Standard, we get the following results.

JVC DLA-X75RB
JVC DLA-X75RB

As we can see in the greyscale results in User mode and selecting 6500K we get very similar results to the THX preset with near identical DeltaE errors and tracking. However gamma does track slightly better at 2.2. Moving to the colour gamut results we see a difference over last year’s Standard colour profile with slight oversaturation of green, yellow and red. This is actually a better result than last year as we should be able to use the CMS to fully correct this gamut to Rec.709 without adding too many inputs to achieve the desired goal. In fact the calibrated results below took 5 minutes to achieve.

Calibrated Results

With the right tools built-in the X75 should provide us with a very accurate calibrated image.

JVC DLA-X75RB

And that is exactly what we get with our calibrated results. We could have spent another 5 minutes getting the greyscale tracking fully flat on the graph, but as no errors were visible at this point on screen there was no point. Reference level.

JVC DLA-X75RB

And again for the colour gamut, we have a reference result with minimal and invisible errors. With such an easy calibration possible (depending on set up and environment) we can't recommend getting a professional calibrator in enough.

Video Processing

Yet again the JVC DLA-X75RB sailed through all the video processing tests we put it through. We didn’t find any major issues with SD scaling or de-interlacing as the projector managed to produce acceptable results with good standard definition sources such as DVD. There was no ringing or haloing present with images looking reasonably sharp and free from artefacts. Motion was also handled well with no induced judder seen. The X75 was capable of showing reference video black and peak white easily without clipping. On the film detail test the X75’s performance was equally impressive, correctly locking on to the image resulting in no aliasing in the speedway seats behind the race car. Overall the SD performance was impressive. Moving to HD sources and again the X75 handled 24p images with ease and again without induced judder and with 1080i sources we again saw no issues with the projector's performance. These results were with E-Shift 2 switched on in the Film mode and also switched off. We found no issues with these settings. However, if you use one of the more aggressive modes, such as dynamic you will start to see issues with fine edges looking overly sharpened and with ringing. Add in highly detailed footage and you will start to see some artefacts such as moiré.

Picture Quality – 2D

As you would expect the DLA-X75RB was put through a number of torture tests during its two week stay with us. We also put 90 hours on to the bulb to check for any premature dimming and how balanced measurements were at various stages. We are happy to report that we saw no major dip in the brightness of the bulb during that time.

The JVC line-up of projectors over the years have been top dog for a reason, and the X75RB is no exception to that rule. 2D images are sensational in calibrated mode, with the depth of blacks and shadow detailing we have all come to expect. Colour performance was also exceptionally good with natural skin tones and bright, vibrant and accurate primary colours where they are needed. We viewed a number of new release Blu-rays and our own selection of reference favourites to really push the JVC in the picture stakes. Although Nolan went for a crushed noir look with The Dark Knight Rises, certainly in the early moments of the movie, the X75 oozed that cinematic image quality that we have all come to expect to see.

Detail is fantastic with skin pores front and centre and with the E-Shift 2 in Film mode, there is a nice definition to complex high detailed objects, like roofs, walls and clothing. While this particular film deliberately crushes the blacks, by choice, we switched to our old favourite King Kong and chapter 48 of Peter Jackson’s epic monster hit. This is a great test of shadow detailing and gradations from black, which the JVC excels in showing correctly. Mix in a deliberate yellow cast to the meeting between Kong and his love interest and then, the primary Christmas lights during the ice pond scene, and you soon get lost in the X75’s filmic talents. I don’t know how many times I have now watched this scene and the mark of a great image is that I then continued watching until the end of the movie.

There is no doubting that competition in the projector market is tougher than ever, but in the correct batcave surroundings, we have yet to see any model at the price point or below come close to beating the native contrast performance of the JVC’s, which helps to produce sublime cinematic images. The usual nearest rival to the X75 is the Sony VPL-VW95ES which is last year’s model and is not slated for an update this year. Given that we thought the X70 of last year just pipped the Sony as an overall package, we have to stick with that choice with this new JVC model; it is class leading when it comes to 2D performance for the high end home cinema.

Picture Quality – 3D

Last year’s X70 was slightly behind the curve with some complicated 3D material compared to the competition and in fact the Sony was ahead in this department. However, this year the DLA-X75RB is back in the fight with a much improved, but not flawless, 3D performance. JVC’s engineers have been hard at work making those improvements which include a better warm up performance, which seemed to be a popular complaint from some users.

Our advice with projectors be it 2D or 3D is to allow at least 30 minutes warm up time to get the bulb settled before any critical film watching, but we can understand that some will want that instant switch on and play experience. So for those users they will see an improvement with 3D during warm up and then some more during further viewing. We saw fewer instances of crosstalk or ghosting with the X75 over last year’s X90, which we had in the testing room at the time of this review. The performance really is a step up to the same level as the competition which scored better in last year’s round up. We couldn’t really fault the odd occasion of crosstalk as for 98% of the time it just wasn’t visible.

The new glasses and RF emitter work perfectly together and were always in sync throughout our testing. The glasses might feel a little on the plastic side but the wide lenses and light weight construction made them easy to wear during a full movie watching session. It is obvious to us that JVC has taken the feedback from last year and made a nice improvement to the 3D capabilities of the X75RB. Good work!

Verdict

10
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Pros

  • Reference black levels and shadow detailing
  • Reference colour and greyscale once calibrated
  • Excellent 3D performance
  • Stunning cinematic images and lens memory for scope screens
  • New 3D glasses are lighter, brighter and now RF
  • Good THX and User modes out of the box

Cons

  • CMD function adds artefacts and the dreaded soap opera effect

JVC X75 D-ILA Projector Review

This has been quite a difficult review to put together. Not because the JVC is a bad product or that it doesn’t live up to expectations. No it's because what we have here is yet another stellar performer from JVC at the price point. It has everything we now expect from a high-end model, whilst adding in a few nice new features like E-Shift 2, more lens memories, better 3D emitter and glasses that are now RF and it produces an improved 3D performance over last year’s model which brings it in line with the competition.

Going through the two weeks of testing we didn’t find anything we didn’t expect, we had superb black levels, stunning shadow detailing and image depth. Calibrated colour performance was outstanding and the cinematic images the X75RB threw out were the same jaw dropping quality we have come to expect over the years. There is no revolution here, it is definitely a case of evolution and that is no bad thing. The X75 keeps the plus points of last year’s reference level performance and adds a few new bells and whistles along the way.
It is a tougher market place this year and that perhaps explains why the only competition at this level of the market comes from the VPL-VW95ES, that Sony released last year and have stated it will remain that way with no signs of a replacement. The Sony is a very, very good performer but the X75 just moves things along with a small increment in performance and 3D to now match the VW95ES. Are there any models a little further down the price scale that could match what the X75 does? Er, no, would be the honest answer.

So overall, we have a replacement for last year’s Reference projector that delivers to an even higher standard, improves the 3D and turns in a stellar performance. The JVC DLA-X75RB is our reference level projector for yet another year and deservedly so on both performance and price point.

Reference Status

Scores

3D Picture Quality

.
9

Features

10

Ease Of Use

10

Build Quality

10

Value For Money

.
9

Verdict

10

2D Picture Quality

10

Video Processing

10

Image Uniformity

10

Greyscale Accuracy

.
9

Colour Accuracy

.
9

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels

10
10
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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