|JVC DLA-HD2K HD-ILA Video Projector|
|Home Theater Front Projectors HD-ILA Projectors|
|Written by Jeremy R. Kipnis|
|Saturday, 01 October 2005|
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My first impressions, having spent the last year and a half with two Sony Qualia 004 and 35mm motion picture film projected on the same screen, were very good (read very impressive vs. any other projector currently available). The specific amount of detail available on a 2K projector is truly amazing by comparison to any 1280 x 720p or 1440 (1365) x 768p projector. There is little or no sense of pixel structure thanks to an 92 percent fill factor. In general, images are presented very seamlessly, with a huge degree of depth illuminated by a reasonably bright and somewhat neutral UHP NHL bulb (I measured peak light output before calibration of 9.8 ft-Lamberts on the 14.4 foot-wide Stewart Snowmatte screen. Obviously, if you use a smaller screen, your light output will be higher.
“Spider-Man 2” (Cinemax HDTV and Sony Superbit-Map DVD) demonstrates a wonderfully deep and complex visual tapestry during the long cityscape fly-throughs, which appear throughout the film. During the first of these, Peter Parker (Toby Maguire), in a desperate attempt to deliver a stack of pizzas on time for Joe’s 25-minute promise, runs through a series of cabs and then begins swinging through the city as Spider-Man. On any other lower-resolution projector, this movie has looked absolutely terrific and very colorful. But the step up to the JVC HD2K System produces so much more real information that it is easily possible to tell the difference between footage shot live and those created in CGI.
The overall color fidelity and representation of textures like film grain or facial hair by the HD2K System have a very natural, un-hyped quality about them, with amazing delineation of subtle hues and shadings. The highly delicate cinematography of Richard H. Kline for “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (Cinemax HDTV for the original version and Paramount DVD for “The Director’s Cut”), with its dark pastel interior tones and broad range of vibrant colors, was given new life, so that it was like looking at the 1979 35mm original of William Shatner on the bridge of the refit Enterprise, with no banding or graduations so typical of digital video and from the darkest jet blacks of space through to the brightest pose struck by Persis Khambatta just before she is engulfed by V’GER’s white light probe. Clearly, black levels have been improved and now offer a rich, jet-like backdrop in all but the very darkest scenes.
Kline’s cinematography is equally captivating in "The Man With One Red Shoe" (INHD – HDTV and Fox DVD), where interior CIA control room scenes feature a cascading lighting effect coming through from below the floor, highlighting Dabney Coleman and Lori Singer as they try to figure out the meaning of Tom Hanks’ moving and mysterious violin solo. Clearly, the JVC HD2K system is capable of rendering more shades of gray from black to white and doing it with more color temperature accuracy and greater smoothness out of the box then any other projector to come along thus far. This requires end users to very carefully control ambient lighting around the screen so that the image does not become washed out and appear dull. I would recommend a gray type screen of no gain (such as the Stewart Grayhawk – 0.95 Gain) to avoid hot-spotting and splash-back effects from nearby walls, speakers, or the ceiling.
Not surprisingly, in spite of JVC’s noble and extensive efforts to produce a calibrated display right out of the box, a complete calibration using a laptop, special software, instrumentation such as my specially modified Konica/Minolta CS-100a Photo Spectrometer and a bit of hands-on experience and training can make significant improvements in the picture quality. Films with extremely natural color fidelity, such as "L.A. Confidential" (Cinemax HDTV and Warner DVD) or TV series like "Six Feet Under" and "The Sopranos" (HBO HDTV and HBO DVD), looked even more realistic once color temperature and gamma had been substantially fine-tuned. The HD2K engine allows for wonderfully open and immediate impressions of any well-created program with precise rendition of film grain, dirt or scratches found on the prints.
Flesh tones were stunningly accurate after a full calibration, but only looked correct out of the box in the D65 mode; the other two custom settings simply do not allow any adjustment at the bottom (black) end of the picture. I also felt that the image had a somewhat greenish tone to it straight out of the box. This was easily removed and, after a full calibration, the white balance was +9.3, -8.6 degrees Kelvin from 10 -100 IRE with DVI-D based HDTV sources. Clearly, JVC’s new custom gamma and color temperature software allow for a far greater degree of refinement than that of any other commercial home theater projector.
Consequently, a complete calibration can make a great improvement on an already very good product. Precise adjustments for color temperature, gamma look-up tables, signal threshold hysteresis points and precise set-up of the Faroudja-based Digital Video Processor for each and every equipment source produced a new and previously unattainable level of accuracy for a consumer product, with pixel for pixel mapping of the source material being nearly transparent to the three D-ILA panels. Computer test patterns using DisplayMate software, test signals from a Sencore VP-404 or the Accupel HDG-3000 HDTV generator, and 1080p patterns produced by Digital Video Essentials (D-VHS 720p and 1080i HD Tapes, WMV 9 HD-DVD, and also non-HD NTSC & PAL DVD) all looked spectacular and leagues ahead of any other consumer front-projection engine, save for the Sony Qualia 004.
Now, HDTV is wonderful through the HD2K, but DVD is also very lovely, in particular aided by the Faroudja Digital Video Processor. This combination produces an analog lushness that is reminiscent of the Sony G-90 three-gun CRT with the Faroudja DVP-5000 Scaler. Stunning recent transfers of Douglas Trumbull’s directorial debut “Silent Running” (Universal HDTV and DVD) and George Lucas’s “THX-1138” (INHD HDTV and Warner DVD) offer visceral presentations of these strikingly different films. “Silent Running” includes complex interior scenes within the forest domes, where Bruce Dern is tending the last remnants of Earth’s foliage. Because the lighting is subtle but the color is well-saturated, it is easy to discern how much better the HD2K system (vs. lesser-resolution systems) is able to resolve fine details of color and shading that are very natural and contiguous; these details can often be lost in an area of color without precision. “THX-1138” conversely has much of its narrative set amongst the white walls and corridors of a sterile 25th century, with Robert Duvall’s heavily-medicated title character attempting to escape an unseen governing agency that holds everyone subjugated. Frequently, lesser projectors render fields of white or very bright scenes with a video garishness or blown-out quality that is unmistakably different from film. The JVC HD2K never showed anything other than filmlike images either before or after a full calibration, unless you pushed the contrast to the limit. This projector is a real pleasure to the eye, frequently capable of taking a great DVD and making it look more like a good HDTV program. But with a great HDTV program, the HD2K system looks more like an open window than video.