JVC DLA-RS40 First Impressions

As I mentioned in a post earlier this week, my home theater got a major overhaul this past weekend. I installed both a new video processor and (perhaps more importantly) a whole new projector: the JVC DLA-RS40. Ironically, the latter turned out to be much easier to install than the former. With both of these now in place, I’ve finally joined the 3D revolution. Keeping in mind that I still have very few hours on the projector at the time of this writing, here are some initial impressions.

I’m coming to the RS40 from JVC’s older DLA-HD100 (equivalent to the RS2), which is a late 2007 / early 2008 model – in other words, three years old. I’ve been very happy with that unit’s 2D performance. In my experience, no other projection method can match the picture quality of JVC’s D-ILA line, mainly due to its exceptional native contrast. Displays that attempt to fool the eye with dynamic or adaptive contrast features just don’t look nearly as good. Prior the HD100, I used to be a die-hard DLP advocate, but I really couldn’t go back after switching to D-ILA. So, when it came time to upgrade to 3D, what I essentially wanted was a projector more-or-less the same as my old one with 3D added. And that’s just what the RS40 looked like. In fact, based on the company’s advertised specs, the three product generations since my model should have seen a pretty sizable improvement in contrast over what I was already happy with.

Early user reports had me a little concerned. It appears that JVC didn’t merely add 3D to the prior year’s model. The company made a significant overhaul to the design. Some early adopters complained of serious convergence problems with the red, green and blue color panels, while others said that everything was fine in that respect. Some people insisted that the lamp was very dim out of the box, others that it starts bright and then dramatically loses intensity after some hours of usage, and (again) still others that there’s no problem with brightness at all. A friend of mine installed an RS40 a couple months ago and has been pretty pleased with the one he received. So, even with all this conflicting information, I decided that the time was right for an upgrade. I placed an order about a month ago and had been waiting for new stock to come in. (The unit has been in very short supply since release earlier this year.)

As far as the first problem goes, I appear to have received a good unit. Panel convergence is spot-on. Test patterns show no color fringing on any part of the screen. That’s pretty impressive for any three-panel projection design. Most have at least some moderate degree of tolerance that’s considered acceptable. Mine looks perfect so far. This may be a luck-of-the-draw situation, and I got lucky.

I don’t think I have enough time on the projector to make definitive statements on the brightness issue. Out of the box and still with little usage, the projector is very bright on my screen, even in low lamp mode (my default). It’s decidedly brighter than my HD100, which just had a fresh lamp installed not too long ago. But I need to give it at least a couple hundred hours of use to see if the lamp drops as dramatically as some people claim. Also keep in mind that, at six-feet wide, my screen is on the small side for front projection. Some projector owners try to push an image almost twice that size, for which maintaining decent brightness is a much bigger challenge. Personally, since I’m in a small room and prefer a brighter, punchier picture, this size works better for me.

Several reviews I’ve read, as well as my own friend’s report, have said that the RS40’s provided presets can achieve surprisingly accurate color and grayscale results without the need for extensive calibration. (A full calibration could improve the picture further, but it’s quite close out of the box.) I don’t have a colorimeter here, and it’s too soon to bring in a professional calibrator, but at least to my eye the “User 1” mode, “6500k” color temperature, “Normal” gamma, and “Enhanced” black level provide an excellent picture right away with just some basic Brightness, Contrast, and Color adjustment from a simple calibration disc.

Not that the HD100 was loud or anything, but the RS40 is truly whisper quite in low lamp mode. I keep my projector on a shelf near my head, and I can barely hear it at all. Again, even though I was already plenty happy with picture contrast on the HD100, the RS40 is a definite improvement there as well. The black floor is darker, whites are whiter (perhaps owing to the high brightness at low lamp hours), and shadow detail in the range in between is better delineated.

So, I’m pretty pleased with those initial findings for standard 2D content, which of course will remain 99% of my viewing for the foreseeable future. The projector is exactly what I wanted it to be – pretty much the same as my old model with some noticeable and worthwhile improvements.

Of course, it has 3D too. I haven’t had too much time to experiment with that yet, so I’ll have to get to my first impressions in that regard in a later post.

[Update: The 3D impressions are here.]


  1. Paul Frederick

    I’m anxious to hear about the 3d capabilities. I’ve heard projection systems arent as good yet at conveying the depth that plasmas can give. I have a Sony vpl-50 and plan to update it soon. Probably to a jvc as I read lots of good things about them. Thanks for the info!

  2. javier aleman

    I’m curious too. My 52 Samsung is getting old and I want to purchase a new set with 3D. I also play a lot of games so I would like to know how those look on a projector.

  3. Josh Zyber

    Believe me, I intend to do a lot more testing with 3D. I just haven’t had a ton of time lately. I also need to re-arrange my connections so that I can try 3D gaming on my PS3. Any recommendations for good 3D games?

  4. javier aleman

    Killzone 3, GT5 for ps3 and yesterday I noticed that call of duty black ops on xbox 360 also supports 3D!

      • Josh Zyber

        There are versions of the Xbox 360 with HDMI. However, I wasn’t aware that the 360 could do 3D either.

        In any case, I don’t have a 360. Is there a complete list of 3D games for PS3 somewhere? True 3D, of course. I was interested in Arkham Asylum, but then I found out that it’s just crappy anaglyph 3D.

  5. i was not a fan of the 3D in Black Ops. on my plasma 3D, it made the front layers AMAZING, don’t get me wrong, but the game is already pretty iffy on aim and accuracy on anything further than six feet away, and the 3D made it worse, a bit blurry, so you become sniper bait. not that sniping is all that easy in the Treyarch COD games (due to the rapid movement speed), but you know what i mean.

  6. Barsoom Bob

    Hi Josh, good luck with the new set up. I too am very curious about how the 3D works out on your projection set up. I have abeen an owner of a Panasonic 50″ 3D TV for 8 months now.

    Add Crysis 2 – NBA 2K11 and The Sony baseball title The Show (?) to the list of Full 3D games that the PS3 offers.

    My favorite 3D tiles available are Tangled, Alice in Wonderland, Piranha 3D, Tron Legacy (although that one slips in and out of the third dimension) and of course your favorite movie (sic) Avatar.

    Surprising to me was that, if the time and forethought is put into a film that is post converted, it isn’t bad at all. Actually if you didn’t know I don’t think you would be able to tell.

  7. Josh Zyber

    For someone who isn’t much of a gamer (and who hasn’t played any of the previous entries in the series – or even heard of them, frankly), which would you recommend: Killzone 3 or Crysis 2? Are these both first person shooters?

    I’m not into sports games, but like racers, so I might check out Gran Turismo 5.

  8. Barroom Bob

    Have not played Killzone, just getting started on Crysis. It is kind of confusing, but got high ratings. I think Black Ops is probably best entry point. I am personally anxiously awaiting Uncharted 3 which is being released 3D enabled.

    • Josh Zyber

      Is Black Ops also 3D on the PS3, or just the Xbox 360?

      The HD Advisor will return at some point. I just needed a break due to an overload of work and no time to do it all. The last several columns were written at midnight on Thursday night for posting the following day. I couldn’t keep up that pace. 🙂

  9. Barroom Bob

    P.S. Put me down as another one who sorely misses the HD Advisor. My Friday afternoons are just not the same. If you stopped doing it because it was too much of a brain drain to come up with the clever titles don’t worry about them. You were very informative on how things worked and sometimes didn’t work.

  10. Barroom Bob

    Oh yes, it is on the PS3. Put me down as another one that doesn’t know how they can do this on the Xbox 360.

  11. Tony

    I’m curious about your impression of crosstalk and brightness in 3D mode. Do DLA projectors have a lot xtalk like LCD TVs typically do?

    I wimped out myself and went with the new HD250 instead of the RS40. I’ll go 3D in a year or 2.

    • Josh Zyber

      I’m in the process of writing up a post about my experiences with 3D, but it won’t be ready until next week. Brightness is a big problem on my screen. The screen material itself interacts with that in a big way, so it’s hard to say how much is the projector’s fault.

      I’ve only played 3D Blu-rays so far. I haven’t had problems with crosstalk, but then again I’ve been watching discs reported to be good in that regard.

      Also, from what I understand, the RS40 has minimal crosstalk with 24 fps sources (Blu-ray), but a lot more with 60 Hz sources (broadcast or videogames). I still need to buy a 3D game to test that out.

  12. Dave Bambaloff

    I to have a JVC RS2 pushing on a 119″ diagonal screen. Brightness, lumen’s, FL has been a challenge to say the least. Everyone says it can do it but MY RS2 has been plagued with issues.

    I’m interested in moving up to the RS40 but want to hear more of your assessment.