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From the moment JVC first put its new optical wire grid technology inside one of its D-ILA projectors with the near-legendary DLA-HD1, the brand has been a major player in the home projection market - and a real thorn in the side of many more established projector brands. In fact, the arrival each year of the latest refinement of JVC’s proprietary projection engine has become a procession of ecstatic reviews, accompanied by ponderings about just how on earth the brand can improve for its next year’s releases.
Usually, the tweaks are limited to improvements in build quality, calibration aids and, most significantly, contrast ratios. But this year all three of JVC’s new projectors, the DLA-X3, DLA-X7 and DLA-X9, bring something genuinely new to the table: full HD 3D playback.
It’s actually surprising to find JVC fleet of foot enough to get 3D on any of its 2011 projectors. But it’s nothing short of startling to find 3D being added to the entry level X3 model we’re looking at today. After all, while the X7 and X9 cost £6,600 and £9,600 respectively, and Sony’s incoming VPL-VW90ES 3D model costs around £6,000, the X3 costs just £3,500. In other words, it’s barely half the price of any other current UK 3D projector.
Making the X3’s price all the more surprising is the fact that you get the necessary 3D transmitter and a single pair of 3D glasses included with each projector. It’s a shame JVC’s PK-AG1 3D extra active shutter glasses are even more expensive than most, at £160 a pair. But then the projector’s so relatively cheap in the first place that adding, say, £480 for three extra pairs of glasses doesn’t seem as unpalatable as it otherwise might.
You probably noticed that we talked about a 3D transmitter in the previous paragraph. For unlike Sony’s VW90ES (which we’ll be looking at next week), none of JVC’s 3D models feature integrated 3D transmitters. Instead, you have to attach a little IR transmitter to a socket on the projector’s rear. This transmitter is small, though, and operates over a pleasingly wide area, so while the unit and connecting cable will have to be accommodated somewhere, JVC could argue that this external transmitter creates more installation freedom.
Aesthetically, the X3 sits wider than last year’s DLA models by as much as 90mm, with the extra width required to accommodate substantial new venting channels down each of the projector’s sides. These were deemed necessary, we suspect, to help the projector keep its cool while handling the enhanced light output necessary for active 3D playback (to combat the brightness-reducing effect of active shutter glasses). After all, if previous DLA projectors have had a weakness, it’s that they haven’t been particularly bright.
The extra width of the X3 has slightly reduced its aesthetic appeal versus previous DLA models, perhaps. But it’s still a fine looking machine thanks to its ultra-glossy black finish (a white option is also available), and vaguely elliptical fascia. The build quality is superb for the X3’s price level too, with the lens in particular looking superbly heavy duty and robust.