What we have here is a case of honesty as detriment. JVC’s effort to be
realistic, perhaps even honest, in its marketing, has resulted in a string of
excellent projectors that on paper seem lackluster. Take the DLA-X30. JVC
claims a contrast ratio of 50,000:1. They smartly, and rightly, point out that
this is the native contrast ratio. This is what the projector does without the
assist of adjustable irises, variable lamps, or other trickery. The problem is
that most people shop on numbers alone. So when the competition boasts
1,000,000:1 this and a googleplex:1 that, 50,000 seems paltry.
Aesthetically, the simple exterior of JVC ‘s X30 belies the performance within.
The truth, however, is the opposite. Over the
past several years, JVC’s D-ILA projectors have
produced the best contrast ratios I’ve measured
with any display technology. There’s no agreed
upon standard to measure contrast ratio, so
manufactures can make up whatever numbers they
see fit. I, however, measure it in about as sane a way
as I can devise: a 0 percent black image and a 100
percent white image, from the same source, in the
same picture mode, after a full calibration. Done
in a reasonable method like this, good displays will
measure in the low thousands-to-one, really good
displays will measure in the teens-to-one range.
The X30? How about 28,544:1. That’s among the
best I’ve ever measured.
Aesthetically, the X30’s simple exterior belies
the performance within. The black cabinet has few
visual flourishes, but for something that’s likely going
to sit on the ceiling, flamboyant and flashy aren’t
necessary. Motorized zoom, lens shift, and focus make
setup simple. It’s quiet enough that you don’t need
a softbox though, which is impressive. The remote
has a great rubberized texture, and its backlighting is
activated by a glow-in-the-dark button. Direct input
access and a dedicated button for the lens memory
are all there for those going to use the remote.
Lens memory is one of my favorite features; an
auto lens shift with three user-set presets allows you
to program different zoom/shift settings depending
on your screen and the movie. I have a 2.35:1 aspect
ratio screen, of which I normally use just the center
16x9 (1.78:1) section for HDTV. If I want to fill
the screen, I either need to use an anamorphic lens,
or manually zoom the projector out. With the lens
memory feature, the projector automatically zooms
out and re-shifts to fill the full screen. It seems pretty
spot on. However, if you’re pedantic for perfect
pixel placement, the projector ends its lens shift
shuffle in the adjustment mode, with a green line
pattern for you to fudge the final few millimeters.
Given JVC’s prowess with contrast, I figured
I’d test that first. The most recent Star Trek movie
certainly works great for testing black levels and
contrast. The inky blacks of space disappeared
into the darkness of the room, while at the same
time, the stars, exquisite planets, and gorgeous ships
brightly popped. Try doing that with an LCD or
DLP. Though the basic picture settings were pretty
close to accurate, I recommend turning down the
sharpness control, as this adds a bit of noise, but
little actual “sharpness.”
The colors, however, are off slightly from the
HDTV standard: green is slightly yellowish-green,
and red is slightly oversaturated. They’re close
enough though that this doesn’t negatively impact
the image. Scaling up from DVD or other standarddefinition
sources is ok, but a decent scaling Blu-ray
player will likely do better.
The JVC X30 features two HDMI and one component input, an RS-232 jack, a 12-volt trigger input, remote in, and an Ethernet port.
If you’re going the 3D route, you’ll need the PKEM1
IR 3D emitter ($97.99) and the PK-AG2 glasses
($179). The emitter is about the size of a deck of cards
and connects to the projector via a proprietary cable.
It bounces off the screen just fine, so you shouldn’t
need to mount it too far from the projector (a swivel
stand is included). The glasses are USB rechargeable,
quite light, and fairly comfortable.
For outright 3D fun, the family Christmas classic
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is a treat.
The 3D effect is well pronounced, but there is
some crosstalk you really can’t get rid of. If the 2D
performance is an “A,” 3D is more like a “C+.”
I suppose some grade curve should be in place, as
I’ve yet to see an “A” 3D at home.
A dark, murky film like Harry Potter and the
Deathly Hallows: Part 2 perhaps best shows off this
projector’s strengths. The blacks really disappear
into the surrounding room, making the bright
explosions and effects really burst with light. It’s
truly excellent and highly cinematic.
At $3,499.95, the DLA-X30 faces some stiff
competition except in contrast ratio, which is the
biggest battle. For everything other than 3D, the
X30 is hard to beat; the picture is just that good.
An excellent contrast ratio
makes for an incredible
image. Overall, one of the
best projectors going.
Adding 3D glasses and the
emitter gets pricy, and 3D
performance itself is fairly
• 50,000:1 native contrast
• 1,300 lumens
• 120 Hz “Clear Motion
• 20 dB in normal lamp mode
• 80 percent (V) 34 percent
(H) lens shift
• HDMI (2), Component
(1), RS-232, 12 v trigger,
Remote in, Ethernet
• 2-year warranty