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JVC DLA-X3 - A Whole New Picture Ball Game
Actually, the X3’s new-found brightness is so considerable that it might present a problem to people with light-coloured walls and ceilings. For even using a very neutral screen, the potency of the X3‘s output can cause some pretty substantial reflections off light walls, leading to a perceived reduction in contrast and shadow detail versus last year’s models.
With our dark curtains drawn into place, though, and applying masking on our 16:9 screen when watching 2.35:1 films instantly transformed the blacks into something mighty close to the ground-breaking JVC black levels we’ve come to know and love.
We say 'mighty close' there because even after calibration and sorting our room out we still didn’t feel the X3’s blacks were quite as inky as those of last year’s DLA models. If you’re a fan of really deep blacks, this might be another reason to consider saving up for the X7 model with its fancy-sounding dual-iris control - though we can’t be totally sure about anything until we actually get our hands on an X7!
One thing we will say in defence of the X3’s reproduction of dark image content, though, is that the extra brightness underpinning the image does increase shadow detailing if you can control your room reflections.
The X3’s extra potency helps it deliver markedly richer and more aggressive colours than previous DLA models too. Initially, again, we weren’t totally on board with this, as some colour tones looked a bit ripe for our tastes. But the Cinema and Film modes both immediately make things look much more natural - even though more fine-tuning flexibility would have been appreciated.
Perhaps as a result of its extra brightness/contrast, the X3’s pictures also look sharper and more detailed than those of all previous entry-level JVC projectors - maybe even all previous DLA projectors period, bar the HD990/HD950.
There’s a minor downside to this in the shape of a touch more video noise. But this is seldom even slightly distracting from any sort of sensible distance. And in any case, it’s a fair price to pay for the increased image punch and colour richness.
When it comes to that other type of noise that can damage projector performance, fan noise, provided you stick with its Normal lamp output, the X3 is remarkably quiet considering how much brighter it is than its predecessors.
The X3’s final claim to fame concerns its motion handling. For there’s something refreshingly natural and cinematic about its motion reproduction when watching Blu-rays that really doesn’t need any processing help. Firing up the Clear Motion Drive (CMD) can make motion and camera pans in Blu-rays look silky smooth without generating too many artefacts, but this tends to make films look too much like video for our tastes.
The only CMD mode movie buffs might want to at least try is the new Inverse Telecine mode, which takes the 2-3 pulldown out of telecined video films to recreate the original 24 frames per second effect. We thought this was surprisingly effective, but acknowledge that it’s probably a matter of taste.
Provided you can cope with its new-found brightness, there’s no doubt that the X3’s 2D pictures are class-leadingly good. However, things aren’t quite so clear cut with 3D...