Dylan is an expert in audio and video reproduction with a emphasis on home theater projection.
Since 2011, when Sony announced their first consumer 4K projector, I've been looking forward to JVC countering with a sensibly priced 4K projector of their own. Out of the three new native 4K models announced at 2018's CEDIA Expo, the JVC DLA-RS2000 piqued my interest the most. This is the company's mid-tier model, which seems to offer the sweet spot in terms of performance versus its asking price of $7,999, with a compelling combination of class-leading brightness, contrast, and native 4K resolution. Prior to this, no projector offered all three of these traits. You could only have two.
These new projectors constitute a major leap forward in many ways over anything JVC has done before. They've redesigned this new lineup from the ground up, keeping elements that have worked well in the past, while fixing several issues with previous models. More on that later.
The RS2000 (also sold as the DLA-NX7, depending on the market) uses JVC's new third-generation native 4K D-ILA panels. The company claims advancements in planarization help reduce light scatter and light diffraction to increase contrast performance over the previous generation 4K panels found in their flagship RS4500 laser projector. Additionally, JVC is using a brand-new light engine design with higher performing wire-grid polarizers and tighter quality control over the lens. The net result is a more efficient projector producing a sharper image with more contrast and light output.
One focus point JVC had this year was improving HDR10 performance. This is a sore topic for projector owners, since even with a claimed 1900 lumens on tap, the RS2000 falls drastically behind most flat panel TVs when it comes to image brightness. Even on a modestly sized projection screen, most users won't see more than 200 nits of peak brightness. This is a far cry from flat panels reaching over 1000 nits.
The fix is JVC's new auto tone mapping software. This new software can automatically adjust the dynamic range of HDR10 content to better suit the brightness capabilities of the image on screen. This new feature aims to bring the already stellar SDR performance JVC projectors are known for to HDR content.
The RS2000 is a relatively large projector, measuring 19.8 inches by 19.5 inches by 9.3 inches, with a weight of 44 pounds. This makes the RS2000 over 30 percent larger in volume and more than 9 pounds heavier than JVC's previous generation lamp-based models. JVC claims this new larger chassis design helps for better airflow and less audible fan noise. The RS2000 employs the same fully motorized lens from previous years, offering 2x zoom, a 1.4 to 2.8 throw ratio, and a generous 80 percent vertical and 34 percent horizontal lens shift. JVC claims 1900 lumens of light output, >100 percent P3 color gamut support, an 80,000:1 native contrast ratio, and an 800,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. The 265-watt UHP lamp is rated for 4,500 hours.
On the back of the projector you'll find two 18 Gbps HDMI 2.0b ports, a 3D emitter sync port, a USB port for firmware updates, a 12-volt trigger port, an RS-232 port for legacy system control, and a LAN port for IP system control.
I found the redesigned, backlit remote control included with the projector to be intuitively laid out and comfortable to hold. The centrally mounted, fully motorized lens also makes setup a breeze. It took all of two minutes to achieve a proper image size and focus on my screen. Setting focus correctly is something I find particularly important with native 4K projectors to gain as much benefit over 1080p as possible, and in the past, JVC has been a class leader when it came to pixel delineation and focus uniformity across the image. The RS2000 is no different. The lens on the RS2000 had no issues focusing tightly across the whole image, which really lets you take advantage of all 8.8 million pixels. Convergence, once the projector was warmed up, was also excellent. Should your projector come with less than ideal convergence, correction software is included to fix any deficiencies.
The menu system of the RS2000 is well laid out, with options unambiguously named to avoid confusion about what each one does. Such options include basic Brightness, Contrast, Color, and Tint control, and myriad other picture controls are available for more advanced calibration. Preset color temperature options range from 5500K to 9300k, preset gamma options range from 2.2 to 2.6 with additional HDR gamma presets ranging from 1.8 to 2.6 in the user settings, and you have several preset color gamut options to choose from, including REC709, DCI-P3, and REC2020. JVC includes different preset picture modes that are tailored towards different types of content. Natural mode is best for REC709 SDR content, while HDR10 mode is best suited for HDR10 content. There are also six User modes that allow you to custom set a combination of settings to memory. On top of all this, there are custom modes for gamma, color temperature, and color gamut that can be altered through calibration. Simply put, the RS2000 allows unprecedented control over almost every aspect of its image should you feel the need to venture past the preset factory picture modes.
New this year is something JVC refers to as Installation Modes. These are memory slots that allow you to customize up to ten items found in the menu system that aren't image settings. Some of these items include digital mask, lens memories, anamorphic stretch modes, and 12-volt trigger modes.
JVC has listened to the criticisms of previous models and set out to fix several with this year's models. HDMI sync times, the time it takes for the projector to lock onto a signal and display an image, has been dramatically improved. It now takes less than 10 seconds for an image to be displayed on screen after locking on to a signal. Those who switch between sources or channels with different frame rates and resolutions often will be happy with this improvement. JVC has also completely redesigned their proprietary C.M.D. (Clear Motion Drive) software, which is what JVC calls their motion smoothing software. They claim fewer artifacts and subjectively better motion, and the software now supports resolutions up to 4K (4:4:4 chroma) at 60p. This is a welcome improvement for those who plan to game and watch sports at 4K resolution on the RS2000.
As mentioned earlier, this year we see the inclusion of what JVC refers to as auto tone mapping. Projectors are often criticized as having an overly dark appearance with the HDR10 content. JVC has now implemented software that will automatically adjust the HDR picture settings to best match the image characteristics the HDR10 video has. This is done on a video-by-video basis by looking at the static HDR metadata sent from certain source components. Through this metadata, the RS2000 knows the maximum and average light level of the video and adjusts the picture settings automatically to best suit the content on your screen. HDR10, in general, is an overly complicated and technical standard, and through this new software JVC is trying to take as much guesswork out of the equation as possible and automate things so their projector owners need to do as little as possible to get the best image.
Click over to Page Two for Performance, Measurements, The Downside, Comparison & Competition, and Conclusion...
Out of the box, the RS2000 offers several picture modes that require little to no adjust to get a near reference image. With SDR content, choosing either Natural or one of the custom User modes, while opting for the REC709, D65, and 2.2 gamma preset options, offers respectable out-of-the-box performance. Deficiencies in accuracy remained under five dE in Natural mode. After a quick calibration using the built-in controls, the RS2000 tracked well under three dE, the threshold for perceptible errors, offering a truly reference image.
After calibration, the RS2000 allows up to 1600 lumens of light output. This number can change depending on a number of setup factors, including lamp mode, manual iris position, and the amount of zoom you're using on the lens. Unless you have a massive screen, for 2D SDR content you may want to consider using the manual iris control. Not only will this lower your peak lumen output, as 1,600 lumens may be too bright, but you'll gain an exponential increase in native contrast as you engage the iris more. In my particular setup, on my 120-inch 2.35:1 unity gain screen, I ended up with the -7 iris setting, which sets the iris halfway closed. This offered 2D SDR content a subjective increase in contrast while sacrificing superfluous light output. From here you can choose to enable one of two auto-iris modes that will dynamically adjust the iris below your manual iris setting to further enhance contrast when video content gets dark. Auto Two mode is less aggressive overall and, in general, worked well in my testing.
Pulling up some test patterns revealed that the RS2000 does most things correct with the default out-of-the-box settings. The RS2000 does proper 1:1 pixel mapping with no overscan issues. For SDR content, leaving the brightness and contrast settings at their default positions, the RS2000 clips and crushes video appropriately.
To test out SDR performance of the RS2000, I chose the film A Quiet Place (2018) on Blu-ray. I first let my Panasonic DP-UB820 UHD Blu-ray player upscale the video from 1080p to UHD. Everything looked great, with no apparent artifacts. I turned off the Panasonic's upscaling and let the RS2000 upscale the video. I wasn't particularly impressed by comparison. I witnessed some aliasing artifacts and, overall, the image didn't quite look as defined and resolved as it did via the Panasonic's upscaling. It seemed the upscaling quality is middle of the road. I found these same aliasing artifacts with most content the RS2000 upscaled.
Once I re-engaged the Panasonic's upscaling, I was enamored with what I saw. This is a movie with many scenes that take place at night and in dark rooms. This is where the RS2000's class-leading contrast performance shines. I was treated to inky blacks, thanks in part to the dynamic iris adding a boost of contrast in these scenes, but also brilliant highlights in these scenes that gave me the impression of a lot of dynamic range. Colors looked well-saturated and natural due in part to the RS2000's accuracy in greyscale and color. The image was also tack sharp thanks to the RS2000's excellent lens.
As I said earlier, HDR is a very complicated format in general. It's a format that requires your display to deliver certain levels of image brightness to be able to faithfully reproduce the content. Some displays meet these brightness requirements. But for those who don't, it means the image needs to be attenuated, aka "tone mapped," so the content can look subjectively correct. The RS2000, like most projectors, falls into this latter category. JVC's auto tone mapping feature reads metadata from HDR10 content and sets a global tone map to adjust the image to better suit the real-world dynamic range of the projector. Prior to this, JVC projector owners had to manually adjust settings in the menu to get a relatively good image with HDR10 content.
In general, using my Panasonic DP-UB820 UHD Blu-ray player, this automated feature worked well. However, not all UHD Blu-rays have the correct metadata, or any at all, included on the disc, so caution should be taken. In the cases where metadata is incorrect or missing, the RS2000 allows for manual control to adjust the tone map. I would suggest owners read through the user manual on how to set this feature up properly.
The RS2000 includes an optical light filter that can be placed in the light path to broaden the color gamut capabilities of the projector to better match UHD Blu-ray content. Without this filter, the RS2000 reaches 90 percent of the P3 color gamut within the REC2020 gamut. Enabling this filter, I measured coverage up to 99 percent, not over 100 percent as JVC claims. This wider coverage yields subjectively more saturated colors should they be present in the video. However, there is some light loss when using the filter. In high lamp mode, I measured a 10 percent decrease, which is a fair trade off to gain the extra color saturation, in my opinion.
One of my go-to HDR titles is the film Lucy on UHD Blu-ray. Shot on 35-millimeter film, scanned and mastered in 4K, Lucy looks marvelous on the RS2000. This is one of those titles that really shows off the benefits of native 4K and HDR10, revealing subtle details not found on the 1080p Blu-ray. Simply put, the image had a true 'looking through a window' quality I've never seen before from a projector. The extra resolution gave the image a sense of solidity that I've never seen from a 1080p projector. I also found the RS2000's auto tone mapping feature to work well on this disc. Compared to the default HDR10 settings, the metadata augmented settings resulted in a much brighter appearing image overall, with natural looking color and excellent dynamic range. Shadow detail, in particular, was far better than the default HDR settings.
I next tested out the RS2000 to see how well it performed with video games. I have a pretty high-end gaming PC that's able to push relatively high frame rates at 4K resolution, something most gaming consoles struggle to do due to the high pixel count of 4K. The game Metro Exodus is an absolutely gorgeous first-person shooter set in the near future of, mostly, the underground metro system of a dystopian Moscow after nuclear fallout. As you can imagine, the game has a dark and dirty aesthetic that I think perfectly suits the performance capabilities of the RS2000. I used this opportunity to test out the RS2000's motion enhancing software, CMD. This is something that gamers can use to their advantage during game play, allowing you to see things in motion a little bit better. JVC's claims turned out to be true. Not only does this new software work with a 4K 60p image now, but I noticed very few artifacts introduced by the software. Enabling the projector's Low Latency mode also allowed for faster response time between my button presses and the actions taking place on screen. Overall, I'd have to say gamers will love the RS2000.
Here are the measurement charts for the JVC DLA-RS2000 projector, taken using ChromaPure 3 Professional. These measurements show how close the display gets to our current standards. For both gray scale and color, a Delta Error under 10 is considered tolerable, under five is considered good, and under three is considered imperceptible to the human eye.
Using a Minolta CL-200 meter, I measured the RS2000's contrast performance. With the manual iris fully open, lens set to maximum zoom, and lamp mode set to high, I measured 23,450:1 native on/off contrast. With the lens switched to minimum zoom, in high lamp mode, with the iris closed fully, I measured 62,100:1 native on/off contrast, and a maximum dynamic on/off contrast ratio of 176,850:1.
While the RS2000 measures and performs well, it is not without flaws. As detailed above, upscaling quality on the RS2000 is middle of the road. I often witnessed issues with aliasing if I let the projector scale 1080p content to UHD. As this is partly a software issue, this might be something JVC can fix with a firmware update. However, as it stands, I would recommend owners use something else to scale their video.
The RS2000's dynamic iris also has some issues that I haven't seen before from previous JVC projectors. I witnessed gamma shifts during some movie scene transitions and clipped whites on certain dark movie content that had brighter elements on screen simultaneously. This is another problem that is based in software, and JVC informed us that a fix is in the works, adding that the gamma shift only happens on certain transition scenes when using the auto iris. Overall, in my opinion, the dynamic iris still works well enough to be left on at all times. Just be aware, in its current state, you may notice it working on occasion.
It's also worth noting that the specified throw range of the lens is a little deceiving. Consumer video content adheres to a 16:9 standard, which 1080p Blu-ray, UHD Blu-ray, and broadcast HDTV follows. The issue is that the RS2000 uses true 4K 4096 by 2160 panels, not UHD 3840 by 2160 panels, making the native image 1.89:1. This means that any consumer video format played through the RS2000 will show black bars on the sides. So, the throw ratio is really 6.5 percent less if you are watching video encoded in a 16:9 aspect ratio.
Lastly, as with previous JVC projectors, the RS2000 has issues with bright corners. This issue shows itself as black field nonuniformity and is typically only visible to the eye when the entire image is black, in which case the corners will appear slightly brighter. As this type of content is rare, I didn't encounter many instances of this issue being visible, but it's still something worth noting.
Comparison and Competition
Near the RS2000's price point, only one projector comes to mind that offers true competition to the JVC: the Sony VPL-VW695ES priced at $9,999. Like the RS2000, the Sony is a native 4K HDR capable projector offering, on paper, very similar performance and features. I was fortunate enough to have both of these projectors here at the same time and was able to do a shootout between them. The most obvious difference between these two projectors was in contrast performance on darker video content. The JVC simply has more apparent contrast and a much darker level of black. Beyond that, both projectors looked remarkably similar in terms of image sharpness, native motion handling, shadow detail, and color reproduction. While the Sony gives up a little in ultimate contrast performance, it makes up for it with better video processing. Sony's motion smoothing software, called Motion Flow, offers better subjective performance and more modes over the RS2000. Input lag on the Sony, an important metric for gamers, is more than 10 ms faster. I also think Sony's smart sharpening software, called Reality Creation, does a noticeably better job compared to JVC's smart sharpening software, called Enhance in the MPC menu, for those who like to artificially sharpen the image.
If you're someone who is primarily watching movies, I'd recommend the JVC. If you're someone who plans on gaming or watching a lot of sports, I think the Sony is a better fit. Both projectors offer good performance in all areas; however, each have a small lead in these specific areas. Choosing which to buy ultimately comes down to the type of content you view more.
Those looking to upgrade from a JVC e-shift model will be pleased overall with the RS2000. While falling a little behind in contrast performance from the previous mid-tier models, it's an upgrade in most areas. Even though it's using the same lens found on previous models, I found the increase in native resolution made a large difference in perceived sharpness, image stability and three-dimensionality. Especially with UHD and HDR10 content, the RS2000 possesses a level of image finesse that overtakes anything I've witnessed from previous JVC projectors.
With the RS2000 (aka DLA-NX7), we now have a high-performance home video projector that delivers native 4K resolution, high contrast, and high brightness for under $10,000. It's not perfect, nor the best fit for everyone, but for the most part, the RS2000 lives up to the hype. It shines best with HD or UHD movie or TV show content, while still offering good performance for those who want to game or view sports. It also only requires minor adjustments to get a reference image. For those looking for one of the best performing projectors in the under $10,000 market, you owe it to yourself to check out the RS2000.
• Visit the JVC Pro website for more product information.
• Check out our Front Projector Reviews category page to read reviews of similar products.
• JVC Crosses the 8K Projector Rubicon with E-Shift at HomeTheaterReview.com.