The JVC DLA-NZ8 is the latest native 4K projector from the company, and unlike previous lamp-based generations it uses a BLU-Escent laser light source. This results in brighter images, greater consistency and a longer lifespan without compromising the black levels or increasing the fan noise. As a result, this excellent projector builds on JVC’s existing strengths, expanding them in some areas and adding a host of new cutting-edge features in others.
The native 4K images are detailed and precise, while the addition of 8K/e-shiftX processing helps make good content look even better. The overall picture accuracy is impressive, the SDR images are superb, and the HDR performance remains class-leading thanks to JVC's dynamic tone mapping and Theatre Optimiser feature. There's even support for HDR10+, plus 3D pictures that are bright, punchy and free of crosstalk.
In terms of other features, there are two HDMI 2.1 inputs with support for 8K/60p and 4K/120p. This will be welcome news for gamers, as will an input lag of 38ms. An added benefit of HDMI 2.1 is that the projector is also much faster at locking onto video signals. There’s an effective remote, intuitive menu system, and flexible installation – although whether stand or ceiling mounting, bear in mind that this beamer is big and heavy.
The NZ8 is also very expensive, although the pricing of JVC’s new line-up is intended to reflect the comparative cost of 4K laser projectors from Sony. Interestingly the NZ8 currently has no direct competitor, so if you want uncompromising performance, peerless HDR tone mapping, comprehensive features and a high degree of future-proofing performance, this remarkable projector is in a class of its own.
Price and availability
JVC’s new NZ series of laser-powered projectors include all the features found on the previous lamp-based generation, but add HDMI 2.1 inputs capable of handling 8K/60p and 4K/120p, 8K/e-shiftX with an actual resolution of 8K, improved optics, and support for HDR10+.
The new range is headlined by the DLA-NZ9, which is also called the DLA-RS4100 in some markets. This flagship projector will set you back an eye-watering £24,999/$25,999, but is state of the art, with a claimed brightness of 3,000 Lumens, a native contrast of 100,000:1, and a 100mm all-glass lens with ultra-high contrast optics.
The DLA-NZ8 (DLA-RS3100) reviewed here costs £15,800/$15,999, and is largely the same as the NZ9 but hits 2,500 Lumens, has a contrast of 80,000:1, and smaller 65mm all-glass lens. However it does have the same improved optical path, and other features found on the high-end model.
Finally, there's the DLA-NZ7 (DLA-RS2100), which retails for a slightly more reasonable £11,500/$10,999. This projector is similar to the NZ8 but doesn’t use upgraded optics, with a brightness of 2,200 Lumens, and contrast of 40,000:1. It also lacks the wide colour gamut filter found on the more expensive models, and uses the same bi-directional 8K/e-shift found on the earlier DLA-NX9, rather than the new four-directional 8K/e-shiftX employed on the NZ8 and NZ9.
- 65mm all-glass lens
- 2 x HDMI 2.1 inputs
- Backlit remote control
The JVC DLA-NZ8 looks identical to the previous generation, with the same matte black chassis and fantastic level of build quality. The only difference is at the rear, where there are slightly larger air vents and no removable dust filter. Despite its size, the design cleverly builds curves into the shape of the chassis to help offset the projector’s overall bulk.
It’s worth pointing out that the NZ8 is huge – measuring 500 x 234 x 505mm (WxHxD), and weighing in at a back-breaking 23.1kg. So it’s not the kind of beamer you whip out for movie night or to watch the big game. This is a serious product that’s designed for permanent installation in a dedicated home cinema, using either a stand or ceiling mount.
The new model contains the same 17-element, 15-group all-glass 65mm lens that was introduced on JVC’s previous generation of 4K projectors. However, it has been upgraded to improve the contrast performance by adding an inside coating designed to suppress any reflected light. This upgrade explains how the brighter NZ8 can have the same contrast ratio as the previous DLA-N7.
One of the biggest upgrades on this new generation of 4K projectors is the inclusion of HDMI 2.1 inputs, with JVC being the first manufacturer to do so. These 48Gbps ports accept both 8K/60p and 4K/120p, plus they support HDCP 2.3, 3D and high dynamic range – specifically HDR10, HLG, and HDR10+, with the latter also being a new addition. An unexpected benefit of HDMI 2.1 is that the NZ8 locks onto video signals faster than previous JVCs, which were painfully slow.
The provided remote is identical to the previous generation, which is welcome news because it's an excellent controller. It's comfortable to hold and easy to use with one hand, laying out all the buttons in a sensible manner. There's a dedicated backlight, which works really well because it illuminates the actual writing on the buttons, making them easy to read in the dark.
- BLU-Escent laser light source
- Native 4K D-ILA chipset
- 8K/e-shiftX image processing
- HDR Dynamic tone mapping
The JVC DLA-NZ8 uses the company’s BLU-Escent laser diode light source that was first introduced on the ultra-expensive DLA-Z1. As a result, the NZ8 has increased brightness, greater consistency, and a 20,000-hour lifespan. In practical terms that means you could watch a film a day for the next 20 years without worrying about dimming or having to change the lamp.
The NZ8 uses the same three-chip 4K D-ILA device as JVC’s previous generation, but also includes 8K/e-shiftX processing. When first introduced this feature shifted pixels in two directions to increase the perceived resolution, which the NZ7 still does, but the NZ8 and NZ9 employ an upgraded technology that shifts the pixels in four directions to display a full 8K resolution.
When it comes to HDR the NZ8 sports a number of class-leading features such as Auto Tone Mapping, which reads static metadata and immediately adjusts the tone mapping. There’s also Frame Adapt HDR, which analyses a signal and changes the tone mapping dynamically, while the Theatre Optimiser tweaks the HDR delivery to match your screen’s size and gain.
The NZ8 includes motorised focus, zoom and shift controls, which makes installation a doddle, and there are also lens memories for different screen aspect ratios. The menu system has been tweaked, and now has six settings for the Frame Adapt HDR features, while the Theatre Optimiser allows you to specify if your screen uses a 16:9 or 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
The laser light source has three LD Power options (low, mid, and high), along with two Dynamic CTRL settings that dynamically adjust the brightness of the laser. The laser is surprisingly quiet in operation, even in the brighter mid option, and the high mode isn’t significantly louder, making it a viable choice for those looking for a punchier HDR image or using a very large screen.
- HDR10/HLG/HDR10+ support
- Wide colour gamut filter
- 3D with optional emitter and glasses
The JVC DLA-NZ8 delivers the kind of gorgeous film-like imagery for which the company is justly famous. The native 4K D-ILA chipset and 65mm all-glass ensure pictures so clear and detailed that even the most demanding pixel-peepers will be happy. The overall uniformity and geometry of the projected images are equally as precise, so all the basics are covered.
The colour accuracy is also exceptional, with a beautifully natural reproduction that hits all the industry standards right out of the box. The light path has been improved for greater contrast, and when combined with those deep blacks the benefits of a JVC projector are there for all to see, while the increased brightness of the laser light source produces images that really pop.
This projector is equally impressive with motion handling, producing buttery smooth pictures that are free of blurring and unwanted artefacts. The processing is also superb, taking lower quality content and upscaling it to the NZ8’s 4K capabilities, while the 8K/e-shiftX device is a revelation, shifting pixels in four directions to create images with a perceived resolution of 8K.
This projector is a stellar performer with SDR (standard dynamic range) content, but it’s with HDR (high dynamic range) that the JVCs are in a class of their own. Aside from having the necessary latitude from deep blacks to bright highlights, their cutting-edge tone mapping analyses the HDR content in real time, rendering it perfectly to match the increased brightness and wider colours.
These class-leading HDR capabilities are perfectly demonstrated in the film Allied, during the scene here Brad Pitt is watching an air raid. The combination of unrivalled contrast and flawless tone-mapping produce deep blacks in the night sky, and amazing shadow detail. The HDR also picks out the bright tracer fire and flak, allowing both to be highlighted against the darkness.
The NZ8 uses a filter to create a wider colour gamut, and this is perfectly demonstrated in The Greatest Showman, where the detailed 4K image pops with wonderfully saturated primaries. The HDR uses its increased dynamic range to great effect, bringing out all the details in the brightly lit scenes under the big top spotlights, and ensuring the specular highlights are never clipped.
The HDR is frequently breathtaking, retaining all the detail in the shadows and delivering bright pictures that are never blown out. The HDR images are clearly superior to SDR with saturated colours and a punchier dynamic range, while HDR10+ support allows the JVC to take advantage of the format’s added tone mapping information, ensuring content is perfectly displayed.
This added capability is expertly demonstrated in the film 1917, which includes HDR10+ dynamic metadata. The Oscar-winning 4K photography from Roger Deakins is beautifully reproduced by the NZ8, with every shot looking great, but it’s the nighttime scenes lit only by flares that really show what this projector can do with deep blacks and detailed shadows.
Although 3D is waning in popularity these days, there are still plenty of supporting Blu-rays, and the NZ8 displays them with pictures that are bright, accurate, and free of any ghosting. You’ll need to purchase the optional RF transmitter and glasses, but if you do decide to add them you’ll be rewarded with big screen 3D images that are probably superior to your local multiplex.
Finally, the NZ8 delivers a 38ms input lag with low latency turned on, which might not be as impressive as the sub-10 second measurements routinely delivered by TVs these days, but is good for a projector and results in some enjoyably responsive game play. Once you include the 4K/120p support and laser light source, the NZ8 makes for an excellent gaming projector.
Should I buy the JVC DLA-NZ8 4K laser projector?
Buy it if...
You want gorgeous 4K images with that elusive film-like quality
The combination of a 4K chipset and all-glass lens produces fantastically pin-sharp images, while JVC’s justifiably famous deep blacks and superior contrast performance result in that all-important film-like quality, separating this projector from the competition.
You want class-leading HDR tone mapping
The implementation of state-of-the-art dynamic tone mapping and a feature that optimises the overall performance for specific home cinema setups, produces stunningly detailed and impactful HDR images, making JVC’s projectors superior to any other manufacturer.
You want 8K/60p and 4K/120p support for next-gen gaming
The inclusion of HDMI 2.1 supports 8K/60p and 4K/120p signals, while the addition of 8K/e-shiftX image processing ensures the NZ8 can also project an 8K image with no perceivable loss in resolution. So despite its hefty price tag, this projector will remain relevant for years to come.
Don’y buy it if…
You want something small or portable for occasional use
The NZ8 is a serious home cinema projector, with a massive chassis and a high-end price tag. It’s designed for a dedicated room with a permanent installation using a stand or wall mount, and for the optimal performance you will need a proper screen as well.
You want a projector to use in a white room or during the day
While the NZ8 is bright, it will struggle in a room with white walls, windows or any other light source. The darker the room the better the results, because any reflected light will wash-out JVC’s class-leading contrast performance.
You want really bright HDR like on a TV
This really applies to all projectors, but none of them can get close to a TV in terms of their peak brightness for HDR. So if you’re looking for really bright specular highlights, you should be considering a big-screen TV rather than a projector.