Heading up a frighteningly impressive list of talents is, as we’d hoped, the HD1’s black level response. The opening space battle of The Revenge of the Sith thus takes place against a backdrop of outer space that looks almost completely, convincingly black, with practically zero of the greyness that flattens the same scene out to some extent on practically every other projector at this price point.
It should be said, too, that the deep, utterly convincing black level on show during this scene isn’t forced in any way, by which we mean that it isn’t achieved at the expense of the subtle shadow details that give dark picture elements depth. Even the blackest parts of the picture look like natural parts of the picture as a whole rather than empty holes ripped out of it.
Once you’ve recovered from the shock of such cinematic black levels, you’ll then have to take in another startling talent: the HD1’s sharpness. For the HD1’s rendition of the high levels of clarity and detail in top HD sources like Casino Royale on Blu-ray is simply second to none. In fact, couple its full HD sharpness and purity (when watching a full HD source) with the remarkable depth the image gains from its black levels, and you’ve got a contender for the clearest picture ever seen on any projector other than vastly more expensive three-chip DLP affairs.
It does no harm to this clarity either that the HD1’s D-ILA technology pretty much precludes any types of noise. There’s nothing to be seen like DLP’s rainbow effect or motion dither, and the exceptional density of the pixel placement in the D-ILA chipset means there’s no sign of the pixellisation or ‘chicken wire effect’ like you might get with an LCD projector.
Yet another strength of the HD1 concerns its colours, which are remarkably vibrant for an LCOS-type technology, as well as being unusually natural in tone – a side benefit, we suspect, of the groundbreaking black level achievements.
So does the HD1 have any weaknesses? Well, we guess the picture isn’t especially bright, and so probably won’t suit a room that has any ambient light in it. But if this is the price that has to be paid for the HD1’s amazing black levels, then we’ll happily pay it.
JVC has arrived on the home cinema scene with one heck of a bang. The HD1 is not just a good projector, or even a great one; it’s actually nothing short of revolutionary for its price point, and gives its DLP and LCD rivals some serious food for thought…