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The first thing to say about the X3 with 3D is that oddly, it doesn’t automatically switch into its 3D picture preset even when it detects a 3D input. While we certainly wouldn’t want to only be able to watch 3D using the settings predefined by JVC, the fact that the projector doesn’t default to its 3D mode does raise concerns that some people will just watch 3D with their normal picture preset - and thus be left feeling underwhelmed by how dull and listless 3D pictures look.
Activating the 3D picture preset immediately cranks the brightness much higher, while the colour temperature rises to around 8,500 Kelvins, and the noise from the cooling fans hits much more noticeable levels. All part of the need to compensate for the impact of donning JVC’s (actually quite comfortable and effective) 3D glasses.
The results of the X3’s efforts are generally worth it though, as it delivers a 3D image of punch and dynamism, and which even contains detail in dark areas. Being able to see 3D in action on projection screens of 80in plus is a revelation too, utterly reaffirming the old adage that size really does matter where 3D is concerned. For the many of you who we know still doubt the point of 3D in the home, the visceral, even jaw-dropping impact of full HD 3D on a 100in screen really is undeniable. Projectors, it seems, are 3D’s most natural home.
The frustrating thing about the X3’s full HD 3D pictures, though, is that they suffer with the dreaded crosstalk phenomenon. In fact, the double ghosting problem seems particularly evident at projection-screen size; for instance, during the legendarily bad-for-crosstalk Golden Gate bridge scene in Monsters Vs Aliens, you can see ghostly echoes of the bridge’s suspension cables all over the place.
To be fair, there’s less evidence of crosstalk in Avatar, which has apparently been mastered with a greater sensitivity to the issues that cause crosstalk. But this doesn’t alter the fact that Panasonic’s plasma TVs have proved you can show even Monsters Vs Aliens with practically no crosstalk if your technology’s up to the job.
Turning to Sky’s side-by-side, not full HD 3D broadcasts, watching them on a really massive screen does rather emphasise their lack of resolution versus full HD 3D Blu-rays. Plus there’s still noticeable crosstalk. But the experience, especially with some sports, can still be engaging enough to warrant the effort of donning your glasses.
A couple of other 3D points we should raise before wrapping up are the facts that the projector doesn’t carry any 2D-3D conversion, and makes the manual job of switching the projector into side-by-side 3D mode more of a faff than it should be.
The UK’s first 3D projector has both impressed and disappointed. Hugely impressive is just how much more you get the point of 3D when it’s writ as large as 80in or more in your living or home cinema room. JVC has done a terrific job, too, of revamping its D-ILA engine to produce the sort of brightness and colour intensity active 3D tech really requires. There are times, most notably with Avatar, when 3D on the X3 is a truly jaw-dropping experience.
Yet undermining the whole 3D story is crosstalk. We live in hope that the X7 and X9 might solve this, but we have our doubts.
When it comes to 2D projection, though, the X3 is another barnstorming effort from JVC. By bringing significantly more brightness to the table, it’s taken D-ILA’s already remarkable contrast performance to a new level, as well as making colours richer and more satisfying.
All of which brings the X3’s price into play. For the bottom line is that JVC has effectively added 3D and an improved 2D performance to the X3 while adding hardly anything to the price of 2008’s HD350. So while 3D aficionados may feel the need to look elsewhere, this shouldn’t distract us from the fact that the X3 remains a truly outstanding and great value 2D projector.