JVC might have been ahead of the 3D projection curve with its X3, X7 and X9 models last year, but it’s fair to say the brand has a heck of a lot more 3D competition to worry about as we trundle into 2012.
Just as well, then, that JVC’s new entry-level X30 model gets off to a great start right away with its price and its build quality. Its sub-£3k price is startlingly low for a projector boasting the sort of spec we’re about to get into in a moment, while the projector’s surprisingly attractive chassis is remarkably, reassuringly large – and heavy - for an entry-level machine. Basically it’s a brilliantly serious-looking bit of home cinema kit which looks like it should cost thousands of pounds more. In fact, the much more expensive X70 and X90 models we’ll be looking at in the coming weeks look pretty much the same, and do indeed cost thousands of pounds more.
Turning to the inner specifications we mentioned, the most important ones are a full HD resolution JVC D-ILA chipset, active 3D playback (two pairs of glasses and an external transmitter are included), and a native contrast ratio of 50,000:1.
A key word back there is ‘native’. For while other digital projectors might boast similarly high or even much higher contrast ratio figures, those figures will almost always have been derived via dynamic iris systems that continually adjust the amount of light emerging from the lens. With the X30, the 50,000:1 figure is genuinely down to the light-handling precision of its LCOS-based optical engine, with no continual ‘manipulation’ of the image’s brightness required.
This matters because it should enable the X30’s image to be more stable and rich, as well as allowing it to produce deep black colours without having to compromise the overall image brightness.
Looking further down the X30’s spec sheet, it also, oddly, enjoys slightly more claimed brightness than the X70 and X90. There’s 2D to 3D conversion available too if that tickles your fancy, as well as adjustments for the parallax and intensity (depth) of the 3D experience, and a Clear Motion Drive processing system for reducing judder from the image and/or making the image look more like a ‘celluloid’ experience.
Serious movie fans with ‘cinemascope’ screens will also be happy to hear that JVC has added a ‘lens memory’ feature to the X30, which allows the projector to remember different zoom/focus settings to suit different aspect ratio material. This system can be used in 3D mode too, unlike the lens memory of Panasonic’s AT5000E.
JVC claims to have improved the X30’s active 3D performance versus its X3 predecessor, at least where crosstalk is concerned. If this proves true it will be great news indeed.
The X30’s connections are pretty much in line with expectations, with highlights of two v1.4 HDMIs, a 12V trigger port, an RS-232C control port, the 3D sync port where you attach the external transmitter, and new for this year, a LAN port as another system integration option. The only disappointment is that JVC continues to exclude a D-Sub PC port from its entry-level projectors.
While we’re on the subject of omissions, unlike its posher siblings it also doesn’t have a full colour management system, doesn’t come with the endorsement of the THX group, doesn’t have the endorsement of the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF), doesn’t have a motorised lens cover, and potentially most significantly of all, doesn’t have the ‘e-shift’ kind-of-4K system that’s causing such a stir with the X70 and X90.