JVC DLA-RS1 HD-ILA (LCoS) Video Projector 
Home Theater Front Projectors HD-ILA Projectors
Written by Kevin Miller   
Monday, 01 October 2007

If you cruise the A/V forums, it seems that JVC’s latest DLA-RS1 D-ILA (LCoS) projector is the hottest 1080p front projector on the market at this time. At under $7,000 the RS1 competes neck and neck with the Sony VPL-VW100 also nicknamed the Ruby. The feature package on the RS1 is comprehensive, and there are some unique set-up features that will aid in the ease of set-up and optimization of the picture. Rated at a very conservative 700 ANSI lumens, the RS1’s 200-watt UHP lamp has enough light output to drive screen sizes up to about 100 inches wide, depending on the screen material used. Sleek and elegant-looking, the RS1 will easily integrate into family rooms, living rooms, and of course will easily disappear on the ceiling of a dedicated home theater. While not completely perfect, the RS1 does have much to recommend it in terms of picture quality.

The RS1 is one of the few front projectors with the lens assembly perfectly centered on the chassis, which both adds to its sleek high tech look and makes it much easier to install than when the lens is set off to one side. It is finished in a glossy black with a grayish silver front plate; at least as of this writing, I don’t think any other color or finish is available. Weighing in at a hefty 25-and-a-half pounds, this projector definitely has a solid build quality, when you consider that most other projectors in its class weigh half that or less. It measures roughly seven inches tall by 18 inches wide and 17-and-a-half inches deep, which is also relatively large. However, the design is such that it is visually quite sleek and unobtrusive, which means the W.A.F. (Wife Acceptance Factor) should be very high indeed.

The remote control is a model of simplicity, well laid out and thoughtful in its design. It is one of the few projector remotes that is fully backlit, making set-up a snap in the dark. The most common keys like Menu, Enter and the four rocker buttons are all within easy thumb reach. Custom installers who typically program a projector’s menus into a Crestron or AMX touch panel will be pleased to find that there are direct access keys for all the inputs, all of what JVC terms Image Profiles (picture modes: Cinema, Natural, Dynamic, etc.) and all picture parameters (Contrast, Brightness, etc.). The internal menu or GUI (Graphical User Interface) is intuitive and simple in its navigation.

Features & Connectivity
JVC’s DLA-RS1 is packed with what I term “set-up features,” which aid both the installer in the physical installation of the unit and the calibrator in fine-tuning the projector for optimum picture quality. A total of five selectable color temperatures are available, including two user settings that add red, green and blue color adjustments for tweaking the grayscale. There are also six Image Profiles, more commonly known as Picture Modes, with three user modes. Memories can be set up with the three user Memory Profiles, and you can also create Memory Profiles for the Cinema, Natural and Dynamic Image Profiles. There is a high lamp mode for use with larger screens that require the projector’s maximum light output, and the normal mode for smaller screen sizes. Better black-level performance is a noticeable benefit of the normal lamp mode as well.

Zoom and Focus features are manual controls rather than not electronic, which makes initial set-up a little more difficult. The 2.0:1 zoom ratio offers a lot of flexibility with the placement of the projector in the room relative to the screen. In addition to vertical lens shift, the RS1 also sports horizontal lens shift, which adds to the flexibility and ease of ceiling-mounting the projector relative to the screen. Horizontal lens shift is also a feature usually only offered on much more expensive projectors. The most unique picture-enhancing feature on the RS1 is the Pixel Adjust function that actually allows you to tighten up the alignment of the LCoS panels. It gives you horizontal and vertical control over all three colors, and it does improve the out of the box convergence, visually sharpening the picture in the process. This covers the most important and useful features of the RS1.

Connection options are certainly adequate for most applications, particularly if there is a video processor in the system like the awesome DVDO VP50, which will handle all the video sources and requires only a single HDMI output to the projector. There are two HDMI inputs, one component video input, an S-Video input, a composite input and an RS-232 control port for programming touch panel remote systems like Crestron and AMX. I thought it unusual that it lacks a 12-volt trigger for electric drop-down screens.

I recently upgraded my home theater system with a new 80-inch wide (92-inch diagonal) Stewart Filmscreen GreyHawk reference screen. Even with the larger gray screen, which knocks down light output and aids in black-level performance, the light output was more than sufficient in the normal lamp mode to drive my new screen. I ended up bringing contrast down to minus five and got just below 15 foot-lambert of light output, which means the projector could easily drive a much larger screen size with similar light output. JVC does a good job of providing a reasonably accurate grayscale in the low color temperature setting. I ended up switching to the user color temperature setting, and utilizing the red, green and blue grayscale controls, along with the offset controls in another area of the menu, to improve on the factory preset grayscale. The end result was a very accurate grayscale from top to bottom. Not to pick on JVC, but the RS1, like most LCD-based displays, does have less then perfect white field uniformity, which is something that you might notice in movies with a lot of bright white content, like Ice Age or Vertical Limit.

Television And Movies
Out-of-the-box picture performance is relatively good on this JVC model. I selected the Cinema Image Profile, low color temperature setting and normal lamp mode to begin my evaluation, as they produced the most accurate picture available prior to any tweaking. Color decoding is accurate for HD and for SD sources, which I understand wasn’t the case with some of the earlier versions of the RS1. Black-level performance is also very good, with excellent shadow detail in dark material when black is set correctly. The RS1’s video processing is excellent, with 2:3 pull-down for film-based material and correct de-interlacing of 1080i HD material. This preserves all the vertical resolution in 1080i HD sources, which not all HDTVs and projectors can claim. Since we are on the topic of resolution, the RS1 delivers all of the resolution in a 1080p signal at the component video input, as well as the HDMI inputs. I have found on many 1080p-resolution projectors, both LCD and DLP, that a significant amount of resolution is lost at the component inputs.

While color decoding and grayscale tracking are both superb, overall color accuracy is adversely affected by the inaccuracy of the primary and secondary colors. Green is particularly offensive. It may be the most skewed to yellow of any green I have ever seen on a display device. Of course, JVC is not alone in this, as yellowish greens produce brighter pictures, and projector manufacturers have always been in a light output war. The good news is, this won’t show up with all program material. I noticed it mostly watching the YES-HD channel on my Time-Warner cable system with Yankee baseball in HD. I couldn’t help but notice that the grass on the field simply looked wrong.

The last chapter of Seabiscuit (Universal Studios Home Video) on HD DVD looked mostly excellent with the exception of the color of the grass, and the other primary and secondary colors that show up in the jockeys’ jerseys. Of course, I may be the only reviewer who cares this much about color fidelity. I can’t help it, though, as I always go back and compare these pictures on my reference Samsung SP-H710AE, which has nearly perfect primary and secondary color space. Blacks are deep, rich and clean on the JVC, with no visible false contouring or low-level noise, which means the perceived contrast ratio will be excellent if your room is dark and non-reflective. In recent years, manufacturers have added contrast ratio to the numbers war they wage against one another. The RS1 is rated at a difficult-to-believe 15000:1. You may be interested to know that the human eye can’t see more than about 1200:1, and so if you get a real-world contrast ratio of 500 or 600:1, that is simply amazing, even for the most expensive high light output video projectors. By way of comparison, a well-designed movie theater yields not much more than 200:1. Chapter 28 of the HD DVD version of Batman Begins (Warner Home Video) is a good scene to test black-level performance on a projector. In this scene where Batman races against the cops to save the girl’s life back at his cave, shadow detail was quite impressive.

Casino Royale (Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment), an outstanding Blu-ray transfer, was incredibly sharp and detailed on my new reference Samsung BD-P1200 Blu-ray player. The chase scene in the beginning, a very bright and oddly-colored sequence, had all the snap and pop you could ask for, and overall looked exceptional. Chapter 3 from the incredibly kinetic Blu-ray transfer of Crank (Lionsgate Home Entertainment) also had mind-bogglingly good detail.

Picture quality was further enhanced when I routed all my video sources through the venerable DVDO VP50 video processor, which output 1080p to the JVC via the HDMI output. The biggest benefit of the VP50 addition came with SD material from my cable system, which appeared a bit cleaner through the VP50. Since the JVC holds its own as far as processing or scaling is concerned, the main benefit of adding a processor like the DVDO VP50 is the simplicity of routing all your A/V sources through it, and only having to run a single HDMI wire to the projector on the ceiling.

The Downside
As with any component, there is always something to complain about. My biggest complaint with the RS1 is how far off the mark the primary and secondary colors are. If JVC were to get this right, or at least give tweakers like me the ability to fix it in the field, I would consider this to be a true reference quality product.

A minor disappointment is the fact that the Zoom and Focus functions are manual, and not adjustable from the remote. This is mainly a concern with focus, which is much easier to do when you can be right at the screen.

JVC’s DLA-RS1 is certainly an excellent 1080p projector in most areas of performance and picture quality in the 1080p category. If the company would improve on the primary and secondary color accuracy, green in particular, it would be worthy as a reference quality product in the under 10K price range. Unfortunately, inaccurate color is the norm in our industry and, as a result, there are very few projectors of any type that can deliver truly accurate color. My Samsung SP-H710AE is one of those few and, as such, remains my reference projector in the under-$10,000 price point. The most logical comparison to the JVC DLA-RS1 would be the Sony VPL-VW100, a.k.a. the Ruby, which originally sold for $10,000, but is now down to about $7,000. The RS1 is superior to the Ruby in video processing, grayscale tracking, gamma implementation, light output and panel alignment. They are both about equally bad on primary and secondary color accuracy, which means the JVC is the better choice, without any room for doubt.
Manufacturer JVC
Model DLA-RS1 HD-ILA (LCoS) Video Projector
Reviewer Kevin Miller
Chipset 3-Chip

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