The X3’s connections are good enough without being amazing. Obviously, the main things are its twin v1.4 HDMI inputs, with their ability to handle full HD 3D signals. But you also get a 12V trigger port, a component video input, a remote control port, and an RS232C control jack. Sadly, if you want a D-Sub PC port – or a LAN port – you’ll have to save up for an X7 or higher.
Further inspection of the X3’s specifications and features uncovers more evidence of its entry-level status. For instance, while the X7 and X9 use an advanced lamp and lens aperture, the X3 only has a 16-step lens aperture. The X3 has a native contrast ratio of 50,000:1 versus the X7’s 70,000:1 and the X9’s 100,000:1. Though of course, with these being native figures even the X3’s 50,000:1 looks a class apart from other projectors in its class.
More worrying to serious AV fans is the relative lack of calibration aids on the X3. Particularly significantly, the X7 and X9 models pack a new and promising 7-axis colour management system that the X3 does not. This doubtless explains why the X3 doesn’t join its X7 and X9 siblings in receiving certification from THX and the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF).
One impressive new number the X3 does share with its brothers, though, is a 1,300 Lumen brightness output. This is almost a third as bright again as the maximum light output of JVC’s previous DLA generation, and bodes well for increased punch to 2D images as well as more engaging 3D ones.
Also, while the lack of a true colour management system is unfortunate, the X3 isn’t wholly without helpful calibration tools. There are Gamma and colour temperature presets to experiment with, as well as a custom gamma tool where you can adjust the white, green, red and blue input and output values across a 12-point gamma curve. Plus there’s JVC’s Clear Motion Drive for ‘improving’ the appearance of movement in the projector’s pictures.
We personally didn’t bother with the CMD much, since it seemed to us to make films look more like videos – despite the welcome addition to the engine of black frame insertion modes.
While we realise you’re probably chomping at the bit to find out how the X3’s 3D pictures hold up, we’re actually going to start our testing phase with its 2D pictures. For the simple reason that they’re so utterly brilliant.
This being a JVC DLA projector, we’d usually start out by stressing how amazing its black level response is. But actually, this time round our attention has been caught by something else: brightness.
As noted earlier, JVC’s DLA projectors haven’t so far been particularly awesome at pumping out raw lumens, but the X3 displays a quantum leap in this respect. Bright, colour-rich scenes look much more dramatic and solid, while dark scenes enjoy even more visible contrast than we’ve seen before from a JVC projector. No projector in the X3’s class gets close to delivering the same dynamism and ‘pop’ with dark scenes.