JVC DLA-RS2 D-ILA Front Video Projector Reviewed

JVC DLA-RS2 D-ILA Front Video Projector Reviewed

JVC is the king when it comes to D-ILA based front projectors, for they're not only hugely popular with home theater enthusiasts but also other manufacturers who use OEM JVC parts in their own projectors. Read up on the projector that helped ignite the craze.

RS2_jvc.jpgI have owned each generation of D-ILA projector in one form or another, ranging from the first-generation Madrigal Imaging projector that was built on a JVC chassis to Meridian-Faroudja's MF-1 projector, also built on a JVC chassis, albeit with a far more advanced three-chip configuration. In the spirit of keeping up with the video Joneses, I recently invested in the $7,995 JVC DLA-RS2 3-chip HD-ILA projector and, in the end, I couldn't be happier.

Additional Resources
• Read more front projector reviews by the staff at HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Explore projector screen options in our Projector Screen Review section.

Out of the box, the calibration - specifically the primary colors - were way off, to the point where I was unable to watch the set. I quickly added a $2,195 DVDO VP50Pro to replace the outgoing Faroudja processor that was matched with my former Meridian projector. The HDMI inputs are a welcome solution for system management and the reduction of noise and artifacts on legacy 480i formats such as DVD-Video and certain programming from DirecTV is also very appreciated. I also upgraded my connection between the DVDO video processor and the JVC projector to a Dtrovision fiber optic HDMI cable. This ultra-high-bandwidth cable is nothing short of fantastic. The installer A-B tested a standard copper generic brand of HDMI cable with the Dtrovision and he hasn't installed anything other than the Dtrovision for his clients since. Copper HDMI cables are okay for many systems when using a good brand of cable (I like Transparent, UltraLink and Accell), but fiber optic offers a lot more bandwidth that, at 1080p resolutions, adds one more increment to the overall performance.

The specifications of the JVC DLA-RS2 are cartoonish. Contrast is a reported 30,000:1, so take that for what that is worth, as most video manufacturers are caught up in the all-on/all-off contrast spec war. I can tell you the contrast on the projector is quite good, especially when professionally calibrated. Blacks, which were chalky and light on early generations of D-ILA projectors, are today far blacker and inkier. The projector boasts two HDMI 1.3 inputs, which means it can support Deep Color if such a technology ever makes it to market. Its native resolution is fully 1080p at 1920x1080 and the projector can easily light up a 10- to 12-foot screen. My Stewart Filmscreen Studiotec 130 16x9 nine-foot diagonal screen is lit up vibrantly by the JVC DLA-RS2.

My primary source material is sports broadcasts in 1080i via DirecTV, scaled to 1080p by the DVDO. Programming such as college football can wreck havoc on a digital projector, as so many moving elements can leave the image looking shaky and distorted. While recently watching USC play the University of Arizona in 1080i HD, you could see that the edge detail on the curve of the cardinal red USC helmets was quiet and resolute. Under USC quarterback Mark Sanchez's eyes were black marks to block out light. On top of these marks "Mom" and "Dad" were hand-painted in white. You could easily see the fine details of these elements in the shadows inside Sanchez's helmet. NHL hockey is another tremendous test for a top-performing 1080p video projector, as the bright white of the ice and the vibrant colors of the jerseys and fans make for an excellent canvas to see how a projector can perform. I was amazed during a recent Philadelphia Flyers-New Jersey Devils game in 1080i from DirecTV at how, when the HD camera zoomed in on the glass, you could see both the fine detail of the players jerseys and pads and the translucent scuff marks on the glass made by past player collisions in the corners. On Blu-ray at 1080p resolutions, the picture only got better. Iron Man looked less dark than on other systems I have seen it on, but it still had those inky blacks that come from a projector with excellent contrast ratios. With The Godfather, which was recently released on Blu-ray, I could see that even an older film looked notably better. When it was broadcast in HD on DirecTV, there was much more noise. On the JVC DLA-RDS2, the picture was more stable and resolute. The colors were richer, but retained the film-like tone. Never before have I wanted more to try the veal as "it's the best in the city." On the JVC DLA-RS2, it's the best-looking in the city, too.

Read about the high points and the low points of the DLA-RS2 on Page 2.
RS2_jvc.jpgHigh Points
• The JVC DLA-RS2 has excellent contrast that only gets better when professionally calibrated.
• Two HDMI 1.3 inputs are very good and leave you ready for Deep Color if that technology ever comes along.
• There is no rainbow effect with the JVC DLA-RS2 as you see with some other digital projectors, specifically DLP models.
• The DLA-RS2 runs relatively cool at sea level and the fan is nice and quiet.

Low Points

The JVC DLA-RS2's performance out of the box in my system was poor, to
be kind. While I am using a pretty standard video screen and top of the
line associated equipment, I couldn't bare to watch the Super Bowl this
year on the projector uncalibrated. One hour into a quick two-hour
session with my guru, Kevin Miller, and the projector was vastly
improved. If you are handy with Digital Video Essentials and want to
take on the project yourself, that's Kool and the Gang, but otherwise,
if you want the most out of this outstanding projector, I must
recommend you get an ISF calibrator out to calibrate this THX certified
projector. It's worth the money.
• The internal video processor
isn't anywhere near as good as an external unit like the DVDO VP50Pro.
You could live without a VP50Pro out of the gate, but will want to get
one to achieve the best from your DLA-RS2, especially if you want to
get the most from the sports that come via 1080i HDTV. Obviously, the
DVDO comes at additional expense. While you are at it, pop for the
Dtrovision cable and you will have the hot set-up.

Conclusion
My
video has never looked better than with a professionally calibrated JVC
DLA-RS2 in my system. The color resolution is nothing short of vibrant.
The contrast is better than I have ever seen in my room, including with
projectors I have owned or reviewed costing much more than the RS2. JVC
has polished their top 1080p HD-ILA projector into a most refined video
product that is a sheer joy to watch. While there are less expensive
and very good projectors on the market today, I never have regretted
the investment in my JVC DLA-RS2 rig. It has brought my wife and I
countless hours of movie and sports enjoyment.

Additional Resources
• Read more front projector reviews by the staff at HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Explore projector screen options in our Projector Screen Review section.

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