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JVC DLA-HD350 D-ILA Projector review

John Archer

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JVC DLA-HD350 D-ILA Projector

Summary

Our Score

10/10

Review Price free/subscription

I've got to admit that today is a day I've been looking forward to for a very long time. For it marks the arrival on our test benches of the first true second-generation incarnation of JVC's startling D-ILA Wire Grid projection technology - a technology which caused one hell of a stir among high-end cinema aficionados and custom installation engineers when it debuted to stunning effect two years ago in the shape of the DLA-HD1.

The thing - or at least, the main thing - that makes D-ILA Wire Grid technology so intriguing to movie fans is the way it can deliver truly cinematic contrasts and black levels without the need for a dynamic iris of the sort required by LCD projectors, Sony's similar SXRD projectors, and even one or two recent DLP projectors.

In other words, the new DLA-HD350 doesn't need to reduce the brightness of the image to produce convincing, grey-free blacks during predominantly dark scenes, and so can produce images that look much more consistent and dynamic.

What's more, not needing a dynamic iris also aids the image's stability, since you don't have to worry about seeing obvious brightness ‘jumps' as a dynamic iris tries to adjust the light output in real time in response to the image content being shown. A further fringe benefit still is the lack of any mechanical noise that might be caused by a dynamic iris constantly opening and closing.

The strange thing about all this, in some ways, is the fact that it's JVC's D-ILA technology that's delivered such a contrast coup. For while D-ILA has in fact been round for quite a number of years now, prior to the HD1 it had always looked like an over-priced ‘also-ran', particularly because, ironically, it lacked the black level response of rival technologies.

The thing that changed with the HD1 was the addition of the Wire Grid optical system to the DLA spec. Trying to keep an explanation of this as simple and brief as possible given that we've covered it in previous reviews, the Wire Grid Optical Engine is effectively an ultra-efficient replacement for the normal glass prism polariser/multi-layer interface optical system. It works by placing aluminium ribs with precise spacing onto a flat glass substrate mounted on an inorganic reflective polarising plate, producing a grid effect that hugely reduces the angle dependency for polarised light. The result is a substantial drop in light leakage within the optical array, and much better black levels during dark scenes.

It's worth saying, too, that further light efficiencies have been delivered by improvements in the manufacturing process of the D-ILA chipsets, with new ultra-smoothing technology reducing irregularities in the liquid crystal alignment. And all the projector's 1,920 x 1,080 pixels are fitted onto a tiny 0.7in D-ILA device with a gap between each crystal of just 2.3 microns - yet another fact that helps keeps more light focussed onto your screen and less bouncing around inside the optical engine, polluting black levels.

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MarioM

December 3, 2008, 5:53 pm

I'm yet to dive in on the projector front, but please would you mention noise from the device itself in reviews? I find that's the number one put-off for people with projectors (after 'where do you put it?' I guess).

Riyad

December 3, 2008, 9:04 pm

@MarioM - You mean like this?





"Provided you've got a properly blacked out cinema room, we'd recommend you stick with the low output here, as it makes a really big impact on the amount of running noise the projector produces. Indeed, the 19db or so emitted with the lamp set low makes the projector practically inaudible, unless your seating position happens to be right next to it."





OK, John didn't mention how loud it is when the lamp isn't set to low, but I'd hope that anyone thinking of spending over ١,000 on a projector can afford black-out blinds or curtains for the room it's in :)

Robert Farquharson

March 1, 2009, 1:58 am

The HD1 did not have direct access to each aspect ratio (you had to scroll through them) and you could not turn all of the on screen display off. The first problem meant that the projector did not integrate well into control systems such as the Crestron, and the second issue is just plain annoying as on screen display messages are a sure fire way of destroying the home cinema illusion. Why? My previous Infocus projector offered these options but I upgraded to the HD1 to avoid the rainbow effect. JVC simply ignore any comments about this or enquiries about a possible firmware upgrade to solve the problem. They even ignored my specialist HiFi store! The HD1 has a superb image but these problems are annoying. I hope the new projectors have improved on this.

Darren Daniell

March 5, 2012, 12:19 am

I brought one of these, the picture was great until the unit clocked up 400 hours at which time the lamp lost around 40% of it's brightness,i am very disappointed i would not recommend this unit because of this issue. I contacted JVC who wrote back once and then nothing, very poor aftercare back up.

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