On paper, JVC’s HD990 looks like it might be a hard sell. Not because it doesn’t look likely to be much cop; chances are it will be very good indeed, in fact. But rather because it costs the best part of £2,500 more than JVC’s already outstanding HD950, while only delivering what appears from the spec sheet to be a mere incremental advance, rather than the considerable leap we might have hoped for.
But this is all starting to sound dangerously like we’ve already made our minds up about the HD990 before we’ve even switched it on. So let’s swiftly put our clinical, unprejudiced reviewing cap on, and get down to business.
At first glance the HD990 looks the same as the HD950. Which means it wears a glossy black body with a vaguely lozenge-like shape (as you look at it from the front), and the lens offset slightly to the left. This makes for quite an attractive design in itself, but the icing on the cake comes from the quality and lustre of its finish.
Closer examination reveals that the HD990 actually is slightly different to the HD950 after all, thanks to a large silver D-ILA logo - referring to JVC’s proprietary, LCOS-like projection technology - splashed on its top edge. This helps give the design a suitably sports car-like extra flourish.
The HD990’s connections are, like those of the HD550 and HD950 in JVC’s current projector series, ranged down the projector’s right-hand side. This seems a slightly odd arrangement, in that it makes it tougher for installers to hide the cables than would be the case if the cables entered the projector’s rear. But at least the array of connections on offer is satisfying enough, with highlights of a couple of HDMIs, a D-Sub PC port (something you don’t get on JVC’s entry-level HD550 model), and a 12v trigger output for driving motorised screens.
A second 12V trigger and perhaps a third HDMI would have been really cool to find on an £8k projector with custom installation ambitions. But then to be fair, there are plenty of vastly more expensive projectors out there that don’t actually offer anything more than the HD990.
At this point we should probably focus in on what makes the HD990 different from the HD950 we reviewed a few weeks ago. And as we intimated in our opening paragraph, the differences aren’t necessarily as far-reaching as you might expect.
In fact, the only truly significant one is that the HD990 claims a native contrast ratio of 70,000:1 compared with the ‘mere’ 50,000:1 of the HD950. But before you get alarmed by this, the contrast difference is potentially amplified by the fact that JVC’s quoted contrast ratios are native rather than dynamic ones (by which we mean that the claimed contrast figures don’t depend on the projector dynamically adjusting its light output).