JVC DLA-X3 3D review

JVC's affordable 3D lightbox ushers in a new era for D-ILA home projectors

A D-ILA projector delivers deep blacks and peak whites without the need for a mechanical iris

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JVC dla-x3

Punchy performance

I was expecting the DLA-X3 to be a wow and I wasn't disappointed. This is home cinema on a near professional scale. Motion picture resolution is excellent; JVC's proprietary double-speed Clear Motion Drive technology has been tweaked to better reduce motion blur, and now offers the choice of both frame interpolation and black frame insertion techniques.

You'll find these lurking under the Mode settings. Modes 1 & 2 utilise black insertion between frames, while Modes 3 & 4 use frame interpolation. Even if you choose not to use Clear Motion Drive, the projector is largely free from panning judder.

As a 2D full HD projector, the X3 is fabulously good for the ticket price. Images are richly detailed, with excellent black levels and intense colours. Shadow detail and textures create image depth, even without the need to don 3D glasses.

Going native

A standard scrolling test pattern, without the projector's Clear Motion picture processing engaged, delivers a native moving resolution of less than 700 lines at 6.5ppf (pixels per frame). With Blu-ray footage, this translates to a naturalistic cinematic picture.

However, engage Clear Motion (I preferred Mode 1 from the several available) and detail bristles up to 1080 lines. This translates to a super-crisp image. I did note a slight, left-hand shadow on our scrolling test image, although this was not apparent on real world footage.

When I increase the speed of the scrolling pattern to 12.5ppf, image detail is still held, but that greenish shadow became more prevalent.

The wider colour gamut offered by the projector needs to be treated with caution. Wider gamut may seem a good idea, and look nice on a chromaticity chart, but switched on some hues become far too vivid (particularly red) with standard HD content. Perhaps some might like it for video games (if you want to add a level of glam to FPS gore), but for movies? I don't think so. My advice is keep colour on the Standard setting.

As a standard-def projector, the model also shines. Interpolation is excellent and the model aced our jaggies tests. Good news if you have a large DVD collection.

The projector's 3D performance raises some issues, however. To compensate for light lost through the JVC-branded ExpanD 3D glasses, there is a dedicated 3D mode in the menu. Activate this and the projector immediately boosts colour and brightness; the lamp similarly leaps to its High setting with a corresponding increase in fan noise.

Although the optimised 3D mode works well with some content, I actually felt it was often too glary. With Ice Age 3, the image was bathed in an icy glaze. A better balance could be obtained with the settings fine-tuned for 2D.

Seeing double

Which brings us to the ongoing phenomenon of crosstalk: regretfully, I have to confirm that the DLA-X3 does suffer from double-imaging. This became immediately apparent on the positive parallax credits of Monsters Vs Aliens, as well as the positive parallax verticals of the accompanying church steeple.

Similarly, when Scully comes out of cryo at the beginning of Avatar (3D Blu-ray), it's also evident on the fins and struts of his space ship. It's worth noting that the projector offers no specific onboard parallax control, unlike Sony's rival VPLEW90ES. You can't tune out double imaging in the foreground or minimise crosstalk manually. What you see is what you get.

On the plus side, the 3D images can be as bright as you want and there's demonstrable depth to its stereoscopy. It's worth noting that the Clear Motion Drive picture processing is switched off when the projector is handling a 3D source, and you can't manually opt to activate it.

Steve May
Home entertainment AV specialist

Steve has been writing about AV and home cinema since the dawn of time, or more accurately, since the glory days of VHS and Betamax. He has strong opinions on the latest TV technology, Hi-Fi and Blu-ray/media players, and likes nothing better than to crank up his ludicrously powerful home theatre system to binge-watch TV shows.