Kicking off the testing phase of the review with 2D, the JVC DLA-X70 simply blew us away, to be honest. We’ve already been deeply impressed this year by the 2D performance of the Sony VW95 projector at the same sort of price level - and certainly that model still deserves massive plaudits for the immense distance it has come from its 2011 predecessor. But for us, the X70’s 2D pictures set the bar even slightly higher.
The first thing that struck us, as usual with D-ILA technology, is the image’s phenomenal contrast range. Black levels are as near to perfect as we’ve seen on a projector costing less than five figures. Yet because they’re achieved without the need for a dynamic iris, the inkiest blacks can be joined in the same frame by punchy colours and potent peak whites.
We’re not talking here, it must be said, about dynamism levels to match what a much more expensive projector like the Sim2 Nero 1 or, especially, Sim2 Lumis 3D-S might manage. But certainly the projector does a good job for its price of putting to bed old concerns about movie-optimised D-ILA systems not being able to get particularly bright. Crucially, there’s also enough brightness in the image to ensure that the projector never feels at all short of shadow detailing in dark areas.
Once you’ve managed to see past the impact of the JVC DLA-X70’s deliriously good contrast performance, it's the e-Shift technology that next grabs your attention. For you really can appreciate its presence in almost every frame of an HD image, partly in the flawless look to contoured edges but mostly in the way the image genuinely looks crisper and slightly more detailed than a non e-Shifted image.
We know the system isn’t actually adding extra image data to the HD signal in any way, but simply by doubling the density of the pixels the image really does look sharper. And since there’s no upscaling involved, the e-Shifted picture looks totally natural and unprocessed.
We guess some people might not like the system’s slight tendency to emphasise grain in the picture. And just occasionally, perhaps, e-Shift goes a bit far. For instance, some high-contrast edges can look a touch harsh (though actually this could be the e-Shift system just shining an unforgiving light on edge enhancement systems used by the authors of some Blu-ray discs). Also, sometimes background objects on grainy shots - such as the backdrop behind Bond as he stands outside the Nambutu Embassy with his bomb-making captive in Casino Royale - can look a touch too "alive".
However, for the most part we found ourselves entranced with the enhancement e-Shift brings to images, ultimately finding the resulting pictures looking more like something you might see from a monster-spec digital cinema projector at a commercial movie theatre.
The extreme contrast range of the DLA-X70 helps it produce some terrific colours too. The palette it can reproduce seems vast, as it effortlessly handles everything from the darkest of ‘real’ video tones to the most vibrant of Disney animations. There’s also immense finesse in colour shifts and blends, which contributes further to the sense of precision in the picture.
It’s also possible to get immensely natural colours out of the X70 - though it did seem to us that the presets seemed a touch yellowy out of the box, requiring a little calibration via the slightly fiddly colour management system.
It’s worth adding here that the projector is THX certified, which means there’s a THX picture preset included. This provides a decent image for people who like an accurate picture based on industry standards - though to be honest it feels a bit too warm and soft to really chime with the projector’s extreme capabilities.