JVC’s DLA-X3 projector is arguably the bargain AV product of the year to date. The step up DLA-X7 was the strongest-performing projector we’ve seen in 2011 to date. Which kind of begs the question of exactly where JVC can go with the X9: another step up model with a price tag only just shy of £10k. Can it really add enough to the quality of the £6.5k X7 to justify the price hike?
There’s nothing about the X9’s aesthetics to explain the price difference. It’s got the same large, exceptionally heavy body, clad in indomitable gloss black with a centrally mounted lens that’s covered by a mechanical door when the projector is off. Plus there are the same two jutting ‘buttresses’ down each side of the projector designed to improve the unit’s cooling efficiency in light of its 3D-aiding brightness boost from last year’s JVC projectors.
It’s worth adding while scrutinising the X9’s exterior that emblazoned on its top edge in rather bold white lettering are the words THX 3D, indicating that, as with the X7, the projector’s 2D and 3D performance has been endorsed by the THX group
Connections are sensibly mounted on the X9’s rear, and are reasonably plentiful, with highlights of two HDMIs, a component video input, a 12V trigger port for driving a motorised screen or cinemascope lens, a D-Sub PC port (something missing from the X3), plus LAN and RS-232C ports for system integration. These latter ports are key, of course, given that a projector at the X9’s price level is most likely to sell through custom installation channels.
Maybe a third HDMI might have been nice on such a premium projector, and maybe two 12V triggers could have gone on there rather than just one. But if you can afford to spend the best part of 10 grand on a projector, you can doubtless also find ways around the trigger and HDMI limitations.
One final connection we’ve deliberately ignored thus far is a potentially controversial one: a jack for adding an external 3D transmitter. For some, the fact that the 3D transmitter isn’t built into the projector but ships as an external extra could be annoying. But having an external transmitter arguably allows you more flexibility over where you site the projector in relation to your seating position.
At this point, we should probably get into how the X9 differs from the X7. The most significant difference on the spec sheet is a remarkable 100,000:1 native contrast ratio versus the 70,000:1 of the X7. This contrast boost has been achieved, apparently, simply by hand-selecting only the most perfect components, including, most significantly, the best of JVC’s DLA chips and proprietary optical wire grid polarising devices. Avoiding imperfections in the optical wire grid device is particularly important, since these will cause ‘accidental’ light to pollute the optical path.