|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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Even the best cutting-edge 2K projectors have areas that need to be significantly improved at this or any price point, and JVC HD2K is no exception. While I am extremely impressed with the transparency and three-dimensionality that this projector is capable of producing, the initial set-up is greatly limited by a lack of vertical (or horizontal) lens shift, making installation a very precise matter if one wants perfect geometry. The digital keystone correction (as with all point and shoot projectors) simply throws away a great image by adding aliasing distortion to any diagonal line.
Another of my largest concerns is that the bulb, while very good and apparently filtered to produce a more neutral spectrum from the mercury UHP NSH bulb, simply does not have the light output or smooth spectrum attained by the Xenon bulbs found in motion picture projectors and in the Sony Qualia 004. In this way, the JVC HD2K looks very similar to the Sony Qualia 006 (because of the three 1920 x 1080p panels and the UHP bulb), but with none of the visual artifacts found in that unit straight out of the box, due to its somewhat lackluster scaler factory set-up. A Xenon bulb simply looks more like sunshine and the difference between the calibrated color fidelity of the Sony Qualia 004 versus the JVC HD2K is plainly obvious, even at identical screen size and light levels. 35mm film, projected from a properly calibrated projector using a 5400 degree Kelvin Xenon arc bulb (the reference standard for bulbs), has a subjective warmth, brilliance and immediacy that is like being there and which any UHP bulb I have tested (even filtered) cannot begin to match, particularly under the controlled viewing conditions demanded by these expensive projectors.
It is a shame that JVC was not able to offer up their DLA-QX1G (2048 x 1536) for this 2K package, which features a choice of four different lenses and 7000 ANSI lumens of Xenon light output … for $300,000 MSRP. Obviously, that is a professional product, but for any projector in this day and age one might choose to purchase at any price, consumers have the right to expect manufacturers to think ahead and employ the best parts of each past design in the succeeding products, rather than add and subtract needed features ad hoc.
Convergence was not really a problem (only in the lower left at about one-quarter pixel off in the red and the lower right one-quarter pixel in the blue), but as I have said before, these reflective LCOS panels seem to change geometry or position relative to each other. In time (500 hours – 2500 hours), changes in convergence are possible and should be carefully monitored lest you one day turn on the unit to find it has drifted to a point of irritation.
Lastly, the companion Faroudja scaler is very impressive in its processing ability, as are most Faroujda scalers, but it has only one of each input type. This can become irritating, especially if you want to connect sources directly to the processor to avoid possible signal degradation coming from other pass-through devices like a surround preamp. I also have the impression that the Digital Video Processor may subtract real picture information from a 1080i source if you use any of the picture controls outside of the default settings. This is troubling, since the whole point of 1080p is to see 1080p, not 720p unless desired.
There is no excuse for not having a lens offset and a motorized zoom and focus controls. As a calibrator, it is critical to make adjustments to the screen, and manual controls simply are not efficient with large screens, which is what 2K projectors are all about. Also, the need for a laptop interface to calibrate properly is apparent because of the numerous possible adjustments, but that should not obviate the inclusion of a complete and usable set of controls that the customer or casual calibrator can adjust for gamma and color temperature as needed. And more memories to store those preferences would be a pleasant improvement.
Creating a cutting-edge product requires including a Xenon bulb, because it makes all the difference in the world. Also, the light output from the HD2K projector is simply too low with this UHP bulb to produce SMPTE standards of 16.5 foot-Lamberts reliably without resorting to a small screen (88-inch wide or smaller) or one that has some gain, which I don’t find acceptable because of hot-spotting. The Sony Qualia 004 has no such problems with light output or bulb type and includes user accessible controls to adjust all picture parameters, though it can take some time, for a similar MSRP.
Not offering a selection of lenses is shear insanity, greatly limiting the possible screen sizes, which I personally believe should be as large as possible – like going to the movies. I would also like to point out that any projector (and its companion scaler) really needs to be running at and accepting several other higher ATSC-approved HDTV frequencies, including 1080p/72, wherein each of the 24 film frames is shown three times per second, producing a judderless image that must be seen to be appreciated. However, 1080p/120 is clearly the golden frequency, because five full film frames (at 24 frames per second) and four complete video frames (at 30 frames per second) fit completely and seamlessly within that refresh rate without adding judder. Compared to the 1080p/50 and 60 we have been used to for the last 52 years, 1080p/120 presents a much more solid image (stable like your computer monitor, only with IMAX motion picture fidelity), capable of revealing photographic textures and detail without any obligatory video artifacts whatsoever being added.
The JVC DLA HD2K is one of a handful of products that can truly demonstrate what a full 1920 x 1080 image is supposed to look like. It is small and light enough that one person can, with some precision, get the system up and running in under an hour. It offers an external scaler by Faroudja that covers all input types except 1080p, and connects directly to the projector via one DVI-D cable. It is very easy to set up, but projector positioning during installation must be very carefully regulated with respect to screen position. Otherwise, problems in geometry can easily arise, only two of which can be corrected using the somewhat detrimental digital keystone correction.
Out of the box, the HD2K system offers stunning resolution, an enormous and accurate color gamut, much better black level than previous D-ILA designs, and nearly spot-on color primaries. The unit comes set up from the factory in better shape then most projectors with respect to color temperature and choice of gamma correction. Its internal software allows an experienced calibrator or diligent owner the opportunity to use a laptop to improve markedly on almost all picture adjustments, including taking advantage of a significantly more complex gamma look-up table than just about any other projector I have seen. But this is not a game for the timid.
It is true that the 50 percent vertical offset, limited zoom range and manual zoom and focus were bothersome to me, along with the limited range of acceptable throw distances, which prevented me from taking full advantage of my giant screen size. I am also bothered by the lack of a brighter bulb that should be Xenon in architecture. So given the strict set-up requirements and low light output, I would recommend staying with screens smaller than 88 inches wide, if you wish to adhere to SMPTE cinema light standards. Yet even with these points in mind, the JVC HD2K system certainly produces one of the most faithful and finest cutting-edge home theater pictures available for the money.