Final more minor bits and bobs include the key facility to deactivate any overscanning, for scaling-free pixel by pixel renditions of full HD sources; and the ability to switch the lamp between high and low output levels. Provided you’ve got a properly blacked out cinema room, we’d recommend you stick with the low output here, as it makes a really big impact on the amount of running noise the projector produces. Indeed, the 19db or so emitted with the lamp set low makes the projector practically inaudible, unless your seating position happens to be right next to it. The single most important thing about all this flexibility within the JVC’s menus, though, is the fact that they provide mere fine-tuning of what are at heart already stunning pictures.
I have to admit that I’d half feared the HD350 wouldn’t really be able to improve sufficiently on the HD1 to win me wholeheartedly to its cause. But the improvements are not only there, but pronounced.
Black levels, for instance, are even more profound. In fact, so superbly deep, stable, rich and free of grey misting and noise are dark areas of the HD350’s pictures that they make the 30,000:1 native contrast claim seem slightly conservative. This can be seen in particular during the night-time sequence where Bond’s Aston Martin chases Le Chiffre and Vesper in Casino Royale, only to end up barrel rolling along the road after Bond loses control. I’ve never seen any projector for anywhere near the HD350’s price reproduce this scene so effectively, in terms of both the depth of black level achieved and the amount of shadow detail visible in the dark backdrop.
This sort of shadow detailing gives dark scenes a superb sense of scale, depth and realism way beyond anything commonly found for less than £5k. And it’s only possible because the HD350 doesn’t need a dynamic iris, and so does not have to reduce the brightness of its image in order to render the darkest parts of the image convincingly. In other words, it’s hard to imagine any LCD or current SXRD projector being able to deliver so winning a combination of black level and brightness.
It’s just about conceivable that a really good DLP projector might be able to serve up similarly dynamic images. But then any that did so, like, perhaps, the InFocus IN83, would also suffer with that dreaded DLP problem of the rainbow effect, where stripes of pure red, green and blue flit around over particularly strong areas of bright/dark contrast. Since the HD350 doesn’t depend on a colour wheel like DLP technology, it suffers no rainbow side effects at all.
In fact, I failed to detect any noise or artefacts at all that might be connected with the D-ILA technology, be they motion blur, rainbowing, evidence of visible pixel structure in the final image, dot noise, poor contrast, flickering brightness levels and so on. And actually, for me, this seeming immunity to technology-induced noise is as big a strength as the HD350’s class-leading black levels, ensuring that there’s nothing getting between you and total immersion in what you’re watching.