The setup was similar to CEDIA and this has been well covered so I'll just say that it was well light controlled with black curtains on the ceilings and sides. The HD10K was by itself with the Sharp 1080p DLP side by side with the DLA-RS1 and projecting an identical source (HD-DVD U-571) onto identical screens.
JVC actually brought a Pearl to the show, but they made the point that it wasn't about ripping on the Pearl, Sharp or any one manufacturer as much as showing the differences in the technology. So it was the turn of 1080p DLP to get ripped er I mean compared lol.
The setup and image on the HD10K was really amazing. The colors, shadow detail and overall image on this projector is awesome. There really isn't anything that I can knock on this projector other than saying that the depth of image in the really dark scenes is better on the RS1. I think anyone who has one of these should be happy with it for a long time to come.
The color temp on the Sharp was noticeably different from the RS1. The RS1 looked dead on D65, but the Sharp was slightly cold (blue). When I asked about this JVC said that they tried to calibrate it closer to D65 but it ran out of adjustment range. I'm not a Sharp aficionado so I don't know if the image looked representative of a typical sample or not, but I assume that this was the case as JVC stressed that they wanted a fair comparison and they've been nothing but honest during this demo.Black level
I asked if I could check the black uniformity by blanking the video. The JVC rep (I believe it was Ken at the time) said no problem and we were treated to a pretty dark screen. I was still somewhat surprised at how much light was hitting the screen though which was when we noticed that if you put the lens cap on the RS1, the black level on the screen stayed the same! Yup, the ambient lighting even in the dark environment was enough to swamp the screen. This was due to the blue rope lighting used in the back hallway. When we switched it off, we could start to see the true black level on this projector and were able to see shadows on the screen when holding our hands over the lens. Even still the screen was not completely blacked out owing to light from the Exit sign (outside the room!) diffusing into the room from the hallway.
So what this means is that everyone who saw the demo with the rope lighting on (which for safety reasons meant everyone), didn't see the true capability of this projector when it comes down to absolute black levels!!! The ambient lighting was close to the black level but slightly over it. I don't think it affected the HD10K at all and probably not the Sharp much but it did affect the RS1, but not to a huge degree.
This is an important real world test when talking about on/off CR as it points out that a room has to be nearly pitch black to see the true black level on a projector with this sort of CR. If this machine is going into a room with any ambient lighting you'll never see the full 15,000:1. The other thing that was interesting is that the glow on the screen is still readily apparent even with on/off CR this high. I think most people will be very happy if not ecstatic with the image depth in the really low APL scenes but some black level videophiles will still be wanting more (big surprise).Shadow / low level detail:
The image depth in the dark scenes on the RS1 is excellent and it was noticeably better than the Sharp (in high CR mode) which pretty much everyone has commented on. I also thought that the RS1 was better in this respect than the HD10K. The slight haze in low APL scenes is replaced with more realistic looking detail which makes the scene more convincing and the image therefore more 3D-ish. There is a psyco-perceptual link in this in that it's my belief that there is a subconcious tendency for most digital viewers to focus on the bright material in low APL scenes so as to not be taken out of the movie. With a high CR projector the eye is free to roam around the scene and pick out detail in the haze that it may have otherwise avoided. The net result is a much more convincing viewing experience.The true beauty of dynamic range
The really killer thing about the RS1 that I didn't expect and which took me awhile to recognize is what happens to the bright but small elements of the image during the dark scenes. The high native contrast makes the bright detail really jump out during the dark scenes. A good example of this was looking at the perspiration on the faces during the dark underwater scenes on U-571. The bright detail was noticeably muted on the iris equipped Sharp. The picture detail was still there, but there was much more pop and depth to the image, but not because of the black detail, but because of the whites!
People tend to focus on what the iris does to the overall black level but even if the black detail ends up the same, the higher dynamic range of native CR makes a noticeable impact on the image. The CRT guys no doubt knew this all along but us digital guys are still getting accustomed to this. This could be one reason why the CRT guys felt that the Ruby looked dull in comparison to a CRT because the iris equipped Sharp had the same sort of look to it. A dullness due to the lack of small but bright detail in the dark scenes.Sharpness
Sharpness vs smoothness has been a hot topic on this forum recently. The RS1 looked very sharp. I had worries that the optical lens quality would be significantly less on the RS1 than the HD series because of the price point but after seeing it, I'm not worried. The RS1 looked just as sharp as the HD10K (even more actually owing to the fact that the HD10K had a few more layers of glass in the form of the anamorphic lens). My personal belief is that the RS1 is both smooth and sharp and that they don't necessarily have to be polar opposites. If one were to increase the pixel resolution and/or the fill ratio for example the image will become both smoother and sharper. As I mentioned in another thread I would love to see the actual MTF specs on the RS1 because I think it will be higher than many people think.
Before spending time with the RS1, I spent an hour or so watching a well setup Marantz 11S1 a few days ago. I really liked the image it throws and if a person sits closely (like 1x screen width) it does have a much edgier (digital) look to it. I really don't think that this represents more sharpness as much as it's the look of the pixels. It's analogous to running up the sharpness setting, which can give a picture the perception of sharpness but it's a perception only.
Bottom line though, is that it really comes down to personal preference. Some people like to set sharpness settings high, others don't. I don't think that either setting is wrong just as I don't think that the look of either DLP or LCOS is wrong. My own personal preferences tilt towards LCOS however.
To be continued