To get the basics out of the way first, the X90R’s video processing was very good. It picked up a 3:2 film cadence with 480i and 1080i signals, and showed minimal jaggies when deinterlacing video sourced material. Upconverted standard-def images looked detailed, though I’ve seen better.
In other words, it’s similar to last year’s model. What’s new is 4K.
To test if e-Shift added any visible resolution, I stacked a Samsung SP-A900B projector on top of the JVC. I chose the Samsung because it’s one of the sharpest-looking projectors I’ve reviewed, even with motion, largely because it’s a DLP model. The source was an Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player, which has dual HDMI outputs. I tried blanking one projector at a time, but the delay between images made comparisons nearly impossible. Instead, I blocked off half of each lens so that half the screen was the Samsung and the other half was the JVC. This proved quite nauseating, as the JVC was a few frames behind the Samsung. Ah, the things that I do for S+V . . .
Imminent chunk-blowing aside, this method was most revealing. Or should I say, not revealing. There was little difference in apparent resolution. If anything, the Samsung was fractionally sharper. In a way, this is a partial win for JVC: Its projector line has many strengths, but absolute sharpness and detail hasn’t been one of them. Increasing the “MPC Level,” a sort of 4K edge-enhancement feature, didn’t help much, and on some content it caused noticeable edge-enhancing artifacts.
So what’s the point, then? Well, if you want a really, really big screen — or want to sit really, really close — there is essentially no visible pixel structure with the JVC. Its focus-/panel-alignment issues partially conspired to create this situation, but after playing with the settings for a while, I got it so that I could see some slightly soft pixels on the screen.
I’m not sure how big a deal 4K, faux or otherwise, ultimately is. I hadn’t heard that 1080p was a limiting factor in home screen sizes lately. For that matter, I’d bet that light output would be more of a limiting factor before resolution became an issue. (Unless you’re sitting freakishly close, that is.)
Here’s the thing. The human eye can only resolve a certain level of detail. Most people sit about 10 feet away from their TVs. At that distance, your eye can’t even tell the difference between 1080p and 720p at screen sizes below 65 inches. And at 100 inches diagonal (a decent-size projection screen), you can’t see the pixels in a projected 1080p image. So, unless you’re sitting unusually close, you’re not going to “see” the difference in detail with 4K. That’s the real value here: either sitting closer or getting a larger screen.
While 4K is what makes the X90R interesting, it isn’t what makes it good. For many years, the D-ILA projectors have delivered measurably better native contrast than any other display technology. I watched a ton of content with this projector, from Friday Night Lights on Netflix to No Reservations on U-verse to Star Wars: The Old Republic via my HTPC. I also played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on my Xbox 360. With each, and with all the other content I watched, the picture was stunning. I wish the color was a little more accurate, but there is so much depth and realism to the image that it’s just a joy to watch, even with 3D.
When I attached the PK-EM1 emitter (included) and put on the rechargeable PK-AG2 glasses (two pair included), the JVC’s 3D image had impressive depth. The beautiful but boring Cars 2 showed a small amount of crosstalk/ghosting, but overall the 3D image was compelling. The projector offers Crosstalk Cancel and Parallax controls, but they couldn’t quite remove all the ghosting.
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