Projectors

JVC X55 Three-Chip D-ILA Projector

ARTICLE INDEX

The JVC X55 Projector In Use

The first thing I threw on the X55 was Zero Dark Thirty, which I hadn't had a chance to see in theaters and was highly looking forward to. Watching it on the X55, the only term I could come up with was reference quality. The image from ZDK is typically nothing short of stunning, with fantastic detail, rich, bold colors, and wonderful textures throughout. All of the gritty, dark scenes were captured, and any flaws in the makeup and fake wounds would have been easy to see. The skin tones sometimes would be slightly reddish, but just barely. Very impressive was the raid on the Bin Laden compound at the end of the film. The twin helicopters fly through a dark mountain canyon at night, and it looks amazing on the X55. The black level is better than any projector I've had in my home, and all this without any dynamic iris. I'm glad I waited to watch this at home, as the theater might have not done this film the justice that the JVC X55 did to it.

I tried flipping on the MPC Film Mode, which enabled e-shift with a few adjustments available. Once enabled, it seemed to be just slightly smoother on screen, but not in a way that was covering up details. I didn't notice any obvious halos or edge enhancement going on, and putting myself right up next to the screen I didn't notice any pixels at all. From my seated position it might have looked just slightly better, but with a delay switching between e-shift being on and off, I'm not certain I'd notice a difference if I came in blind.

Skyfall also has a reference quality image, as many movies being shot digitally on the Arri Alexa camera do. Scenes that open on Shanghai and Macau feature bright neon and office lights set against a dark nighttime city, and look absolutely amazing. This kind of inter-scene contrast can't be pulled off with a dynamic iris, where the shrinking of the iris to darken the blacks will also reduce the highlights. On the X55, the bright lights just popped off the screen, and really look amazing. On the scene where Bond surprised M inside of her house, he's hidden away deep in the shadows holding a drink glass. I'd estimate on most projectors, the glass he is holding would have been hidden in muddled shadows, but the depths of the X55s black level allow it to be rendered well. As digital cameras advance, allowing for greater and greater dynamic range in scenes, projectors like the X55 are keeping up and allowing that dynamic range to make it to your screen.

Drive is a title I keep coming back to, with its opening scenes that are filled with blacks and shadows, and a few scenes that show off the native contrast of a projector. The X55 comes out and passes this test as well as anything. From the texture of his driving gloves in the shadows, to the ski mask on the robber in the backseat, everything hidden away in the shadows came out looked great. Some disagree with me on the quality of Drive as a film, but that gorgeous look and soundtrack keep drawing me back in and it looks great on the X55.

For 3D I went to my live action reference, Hugo. Unfortunately 3D is an area that the JVC X55 comes up a bit short. While capable of amazing blacks, it lacks the massive light output that really drives great 3D projectors. The image of Hugo lacked pop and didn't have much depth on screen as a result. I can get more pop by turning the Crosstalk Cancelation control to the maximum setting, but this attempt at removing crosstalk causes a ghosting pattern to appear instead which is very distracting. Crosstalk was much improved over last year's model, so that is one good thing for the JVC.

3D content also simple has to be viewed in high lamp mode to have any level of brightness at all, and the high lamp mode on the JVC is very loud. It's loud enough that I would make sure I can run it in low lamp mode unless I'm going to keep it in an enclosure that will reduce the noise. I frankly don't care about 3D at all, and so this didn't bother me with the JVC in the slightest, but if you do watch a lot of 3D, then the X55 isn't the projector for you.