Count JVC as a leading proponent of Liquid Crystal On Silicon technology, which the company has dubbed D-ILA (for Direct drive Imaging Light Amplifier) as used in the firm’s top-tier projectors, such as the DLA-HD350 reviewed here. This three-panel technology has, at its core, LCD-like panels, but instead of being transmissive, the D-ILA imaging system features a combination of transmissive and reflective technologies to provide better light control, especially with respect to deep black and dark gray performance.
Introduced at last September’s CEDIA show in Denver, the DLA-HD350 was slated to carry an SRP of $6,000—which seemed entirely appropriate and competitive. In the three months since the trade show introduction and actual product shipments, the SRP dropped by 25 percent, making this the most affordable 1080p LCOS-based projector yet.
Consider this Projector if:
you’re looking for a high value, high performance 1080p projector with LCOS/D-ILA technology that’s loaded with step-up features. Given the dramatic price drop, this latest JVC projector is, at $4,500, an exceptional value compared to earlier offerings.
Look elsewhere if:
you’d like to be able to see a projected image with the most accurate HDTV color gamut (palette) possible, as this JVC’s extended color gamut tends to over-embellish colors. For some (or perhaps many), this might be desirable, though.
Overall picture quality (SD): 7
Overall picture quality (HD): 8
User interface: 8
• Motorized everything on the JVC, including focus and zoom, along with vertical and horizontal lens shift, which allows quick and accurate setup by letting you stand close to the screen to dial in the sharpest possible picture. A test pattern is automatically called up during the focus/alignment process, which further aids setup. There’s even a motorized sliding lens cover to help keep dust and dirt off the lens when the JVC is powered down.
• There are picture adjustment options galore, with numerous picture-setting memories and three user-defined memories, so tuning the JVC for daytime and evening modes is easy. In addition to the usual array of aspect ratio choices, this latest JVC now features Vertical Stretch (prior models didn’t), which is a special 1.33 vertical stretching mode that allows the use of an external anamorphic lens (such as the Panamorph) for true 2.40:1 “scope” widescreen reproduction (you’ll need a suitably wide 2.40:1 aspect ratio screen, of course).
• With two lamp modes and three iris choices, the JVC can be tweaked for brighter daytime viewing and for optimum nighttime viewing with the lower lamp mode, which will help to significantly extend the lamp life.
• With two HDMI, one component, one S-video and one composite input, the JVC has enough inputs to be sufficient for most users. The lack of a dedicated RGB PC input might be a hindrance for some, however, but as more and more desktop and laptop computers feature digital video outputs, the JVC’s second HDMI input could save the day if you want to use the projector as a big-screen PC monitor.
• Do take note that the input and power connections are along one side of the JVC’s slender cabinet, instead of being around back as is almost always the case with other projectors. Side-mounted connections might be more convenient for some installations, but might also expose wiring that would otherwise be less visible with back panel connections.
On Screen Display
• Well-designed and logically laid out, the OSD features a raft of adjustments, including the ability to adjust on-screen timing; it also provides single pixel graphics to check for exact focus, as well as color bars to aid in color and tint adjustment.
• Slim, slender and black, the JVC’s remote is well-designed and features amber backlighting, the best choice for legibility in a darkened theater room. Discrete power on and off buttons are helpful for setting up macros with a system remote or external controller, and most of the important adjustments and options feature dedicated buttons, including the three user-defined picture memories. I would have preferred discrete input buttons as opposed to the single toggling source button provided here, but that’s my only gripe with the JVC’s remote. In all other respects, it’s one of the better-designed projector remote’s I’ve seen.
Picture Mode: Natural
Color Temperature: 6500°
HD size (1:1 pixel-to-pixel): 16:9
Gamma: Custom 1 (2.2)
Bottom Line: JVC has come up with an excellent projector that achieves the elusive combination of high performance and high value. Highlights include motorized optics, extensive picture-adjustment options, a vertical stretch mode for anamorphic lens compatibility, plus a Standard (low) lamp mode that extends lamp life. What’s more, the JVC is smaller than earlier models and whisper quiet. The only drawback is an over-emphasized color gamut with no secondary HDTV standard gamut choice. But once you dial back the color a few notches you’ll be able to savor the JVC’s superb deep blacks and rich shadow details.