While the bulk of the currently available 3D flat-panel HDTVs require active shutter 3D glasses, in the commercial 3D theater world, passive 3D glasses dominate. That’s because they’re much cheaper to produce in bulk, and can be recycled (cleaned and re-packaged) easily.
Active 3D glasses however allow the viewer to experience better left/right 3D picture differentiation, or separation, which is key to maximizing the 3D experience. JVC’s new line of 3D front projectors, including the entry model DLA-X3 tested here, rely on active shutter 3D glasses, and are based on the company’s well-established D-ILA liquid crystal on silicon imaging technology.
Consider this projector if: you’re itching to get the true big screen 3D front projection experience.
Look elsewhere if: you want a 3D front projector that is compatible with much lower cost passive (polarized) 3D glasses, as the JVC requires the purchase of pricey ($179) active shutter 3D glasses.
• Overall picture quality (HD): 9
• Features: 7
• Connectivity: 7
• User interface: 8
• Value: 7
Based on JVC’s D-ILA imaging technology (generically referred to as LCoS), the DLA-X3 is one of a trio of new JVC 3D projectors, and although it’s their entry level model, the DLA-X3’s feature package is sufficient to satisfy the needs of most home theater enthusiasts who are looking for the big screen 3D experience.
Equipped with a 220 watt UHP bulb, the projector’s light output is sufficiently bright that, even in the dimmed mode (curiously called Normal), there’s plenty of output that’s enough to light up a ten-foot diagonal 16:9 screen. In the higher power mode, the output increases enough to easily fill an even bigger thirteen-foot diagonal screen. In addition to the two lamp output modes, there’s an aperture adjustment that allows the light output to be trimmed down, which allows for better blacks and dark grays in a properly light-controlled home theater environment.
While the projector is 3D-capable, users will need to spend some extra dollars to make it all happen, including popping for the required 3D infrared synchronizing transmitter at $79 (JVC model # PK-EM1). They’ll also need to purchase the optional active shutter 3D glasses, which carry a list price of $179 each (JVC model # PK-AG1). The glasses themselves (made in the USA, no less) are battery operated, but feature no power on/off switch, as they automatically activate when sensing the 3D IR sync signal from the PK-EM1 3D IR emitter. The emitter itself is about the size of a deck of cards and plugs into a port on the projector’s rear jack panel. While JVC intends that the emitter be placed in a spot at the front of the viewing and aimed towards the audience, I simply plopped it on top of the projector facing toward the screen, and found that there was sufficient infrared strength such that at any reasonable viewing spot the glasses were easily able to capture the IR sync signals reflecting off the screen.
The chassis itself is handsomely trimmed in high-gloss black, and there’s a motorized lens cover that automatically activates during power up and power down sequences (it can also be left open via an option in the setup menu, if desired). For 21:9 (or 2.40:1 aspect ratio) true widescreen viewing, which will require an optional external anamorphic lens such as the popular Panamorph, the projector is equipped with two anamorphic screen modes. The first mode is for an external movable anamorphic lens, while the second mode provides for a fixed-in-place lens. Most projectors that offer anamorphic lens compatibility only provide the first mode (vertical stretch), whereas the JVC’s second anamorphic mode (horizontal squeeze) provides for the most economical anamorphic lens installation.
The optics provide full motorized controls for zoom and focus, as well as for horizontal and vertical lens shift, which is a boon for quick and accurate setup. However, for the best image quality with an external anamorphic lens setup, the projector should be mounted directly on axis towards screen center with no horizontal lens shift, as that causes noticeable image skewing when viewing 2.40:1 widescreen fare.
Unlike many currently available 3D HDTV flat panel sets, the JVC doesn’t provide for 2D-3D upconversion, which is no big loss given that most such schemes provide at best a very mild 3D effect.
With the now widespread availability of very affordable audio video receivers that feature HDMI switching, 3D Blu-ray signal handling capability along with SD-to-HD upconversion, there’s really no need for anything more than one HDMI input on the projector (that’s the only connection you’ll be using for 3D viewing anyway). The JVC sports two HDMI inputs though, and there’s one component video input alongside. Fitting above the DLA-X3 in JVC’s 3D projector lineup, a pair of step-up models do provide an RGB PC input, something omitted here.