JVC is well-known for its D-ILA (Direct Drive Image Light Amplifier) projectors, which are based on the company’s implementation of LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) imaging technology. Today, the JVC unveiled the LX-UH1, adding a DLP-based model to the JVC stable.
Both types of JVC projectors are touted as having 4K/UHD resolution, and both use lower-resolution imagers and “pixel shifting” to achieve it—sort of. All the D-ILA models (except the flagship DLA-RS4500) have 1080p imagers, and each pixel is quickly shifted back and forth between two positions to display two pixels on the screen. JVC calls this e-Shift, and it doubles the number of pixels on the screen from 2 million to 4 million. (Epson does the same thing with some of its LCD projectors, calling the technique “4K Enhancement.”) However, that’s still half the number of pixels in a true UHD image.
The JVC LX-UH1 uses the same technique with its new 0.47″ DMD (Digital Micromirror Device) imaging chip, which also has a native resolution of 1080p. But instead of shifting the pixels back and forth between two positions, it shifts them back and forth between four positions, displaying a total of 8 million pixels on the screen. Texas Instruments, the developer of DLP technology, calls this technique TRP (tilt-roll pixels).
Other important specs include a peak luminance of 2000 lumens with a purported dynamic contrast ratio of 100,000:1. An RGBRGB color-filter wheel yields a color gamut encompassing 100% of BT.709, and the unit can accept a BT.2020 signal. In addition, the LX-UH1 is compatible with HDR10 and HLG high-dynamic-range content. One of the two HDMI inputs operates at full 2.0 bandwidth—18 Gbps—allowing it to accept 4K/60p HDR signals.
Focus, zoom, and lens shift are all manual. I’m happy to see horizontal and vertical lens shift, which have a wide range (±60% vertical, ±23% horizontal). The zoom range is fairly wide as well (1.36-2.18:1).
And the price? $2500! The least-expensive D-ILA model is $4000, which makes the LX-UH1 seem like a real bargain. However, there are even less-expensive DLP-based UHD HDR projectors on the market, such as the Optoma UHD60 ($2000) and BenQ HT2550 ($1500), both of which claim higher peak brightness than the JVC. In addition, the UHD60 uses a larger DMD chip with a native resolution of 2716×1528 and 2x pixel shifting. The HT2550 uses the smaller 1080p DMD with 4x pixel shifting.
Overall, I have not been all that impressed with the low-cost DLP-based 4K/UHD projectors I’ve seen, especially their poor black levels. By contrast, the JVC D-ILA models have exceptional black levels, making them among the most popular projectors for videophiles. I look forward to seeing if the JVC LX-UH1 improves upon the other projectors in its class.