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If you ask me, JVC’s D-ILA projectors deserve some sort of distinguished service medal. After all, from the jaw-dropping (and totally out of the blue) moment they adopted JVC’s innovative new Optical Wire Grid system, D-ILA projectors have been setting new standards that have forced rival technologies (DLP, LCD, D-ILA) into unparalleled levels of R&D as they try to keep up. In other words, I honestly believe that the D-ILA/optical wire grid combination has made the whole projector world a better place - and that’s got to be a good thing.
Actually, given the problems JVC seems to be having with many of its other consumer electronics wings right now, it’s possible the brand’s D-ILA projectors are even keeping the company afloat, at least in the UK. But that’s a discussion for another day. All that matters here, as I place the HD950 gently onto my projector stand, is whether it significantly betters previous JVC models, and whether it remains significantly ahead of the ever-improving chasing pack.
At £5,675, you can probably guess that the HD950 isn’t JVC’s new entry-level D-ILA model; that honour belongs to the HD550, which we’ll hopefully be having a look at soon. The HD950 is actually the ‘middle’ model from a new three-strong range, sitting below the higher-contrast, more heavily featured (and eight grand!) HD990.
So what exactly does the HD950’s middle-man status get you in terms of design and features?
Aesthetically you get a projector that seems identical to the much costlier HD990 - and which closely resembles JVC’s previous generation of projectors. Which is fine by me, for the curved corners, vaguely elliptical shape, silvery highlights and extremely opulent, high-gloss, heavy duty finish all cut a very pleasant dash indeed in your average home cinema room.
The HD950 perhaps loses something aesthetically versus Sony’s SXRD models on account of its lens sitting slightly awkwardly to the left, whereas Sony’s sits in the centre, satisfying our desire for symmetry. But this is a pathetically small niggle, really.
At least the lens barrel is tucked away inside the HD950’s robust chassis, rather than sticking out and therefore being prone to damage as was the case with JVC’s first D-ILA/optical grid models. For further protection, a cover slides over the lens automatically when the projector is off.
The HD950’s resolution is, of course, Full HD native. But of much greater interest is the HD950’s vast 50,000:1 native contrast ratio - which is to say, 50,000:1 without having to use the sort of dynamic iris systems most rival technologies have to use to produce their often outlandish maximum contrast ratio figures. This native contrast performance on the HD950 has the potential to produce the most stable, natural and detailed dark scenes in the projector’s class.