February 2007 saw the debut of JVC’s DLA-HD1.

Out of the blue, this remarkable projector suddenly carried the company’s previously interesting, but ultimately flawed, Digital Light Amplification technology right into the thick of the AV battlefield.

And now D-ILA is in improved form, in the step-up HD100. If this really does deliver a performance boost over the HD1, it should be very special indeed.

Astounding contrast ratio

The HD1’s most remarkable feature was its black level response that delivered a 15,000:1 contrast ratio. The HD100 blasts that out of the water, by promising double that as standard and with a maximum (extendable) figure of 40,000:1.

This is made possible through refinements made to the already revolutionary ‘Wire Grid Optical Engine’ that gave this model’s predecessor such a leg up over previous D-ILA models.

This engine employs a new smoothing technology that reduces imperfections in the liquid crystal alignment construction process, helping cut down on stray light bouncing around the system.

Also, the HD100’s engine dispenses with the conventional, but inefficient prism for splitting light into colour, and replaces it with a flat device featuring an inorganic reflective polarising surface and aluminium strips arrayed along the top. This means you end up with less unwanted light spillage and much enhanced brightness and black level response.

Impressive connectivity

Connectivity hits the spot with two v1.3a HDMI inputs, making the unit compatible with the much hyped Deep Color system, with its enhanced colours.

You also a get component video input, an RS232C jack for system integration and S-video and composite video fallbacks, too. As with the HD1, the HD100 delivers a 1080p resolution, and provides a zero overscan mode for unscaled reproduction of 1,080-line sources.

Plus, of course, it can handle any hi-def material you might throw at it, including the new 1080p/24fps format found on most next-generation discs. The HD100 allegedly improves on the HD1, meanwhile, by reproducing a broader colour space for more natural and richer tones.

Plus – rather crucially, given that the HD1 sold well through custom installation channels – it provides much more setup flexibility, including onscreen customised gamma controls, noise reduction, and much more comprehensive colour tweaking.

Straightforward setup

For such a sophisticated projector, the HD100 is surprisingly straightforward to set up and use.

Adapting it to your particular room is helped immeasurably, for instance, by an unusually flexible 2x optical zoom, plus the facility to shift the image by an enormous +/- 80 per cent vertically, or +/- 34 per cent horizontally.

JVC has also thoughtfully provided the facility to store up to three preferred image settings for different source types, while the onscreen menus are clean and clear and the remote control is no more complicated to master than your average TV zapper.

Remarkable pictures

Even though the pictures from the HD1 still look stunning nine months after their debut, the HD100’s pictures are, remarkably, better.

The most immediately obvious improvement is in the new machine’s colour saturations. Slightly pallid colour tones were pretty much the only gripe we had with the HD1, but here hues enjoy fuller, more vibrant saturations and more natural tones.

In fact, the colour response is now approaching the sort of saturation levels seen with DLP technology. Happily, D-ILA appears to create no unwanted side effects whatsoever.

Its pictures are among the very cleanest and purest we’ve ever seen. They’re also among the sharpest, with mesmerising amounts of fine detail appearing during HD viewing. And this only gets more jaw-droppingly impressive the bigger you make the picture.

We’ve saved the HD100’s best feature till last, though: its black levels. These are nothing short of revolutionary at this price, especially since the near total darkness achieved is delivered without any dynamic iris trickery.

In other words, you don’t have to sacrifice brightness in order to enjoy the richest and most subtly detailed black response we’ve seen on a sub-£10,000 projector.

With surprisingly little running noise for such a powerful machine, there isn’t anything bad to say about the HD100’s performance at all.

Value for money

Spend double the HD100’s £5,000 price tag and you might get yourself a richer colour palette. But for its money the HD100’s performance is nigh-on miraculous