Which company makes the best projector? This is a question regularly asked by any home cinema enthusiast planning to move from a flat screen TV to the much larger screen that a projector provides.
The answer, at least according to the results of Projector Shootout 2022, an event held in New York last weekend by local AV retailer Value Electronics, is JVC.
Many of them appeared in Shootout best 4K projectors against each other, with all major brands represented. It is worth noting that the competition focused on long-throw projectors, although a separate event was used to evaluate ultra-short-throw models in a manner similar to Laser television duel where I served as a judge earlier this year.
For the past two decades, Value Electronics has hosted a similar event dedicated to flat screen TVs. This particular shooter collects the best 4K TVs and queues them up for review by a panel of experts. (This year’s winner: Sony XR-A95K QD-OLED, a great looking TV in every way).
The projector evaluation procedure is basically the same as for TVs, with each model being set to the most accurate picture mode and then optimized for both standard and high dynamic range display. To ensure a level playing field, all displays are fed the same test patterns and movie scenes using a video distribution network, and each projector is paired with an identical projection screen.
In the Projector Shootout 2022 competition, long-throw models are grouped into three price categories:
- JVC DLA-NP5 D-ILA ($6999 / £6999) [Winner]
- Sony VPL-XW5000ES SXRD ($5999 / £5999)
- Epson ProCinema LS12000 LCD ($4999/ £4,399)
- LG AU810PB DLP ($3999 / £3999)
- JVC DLA-NZ8 D-ILA ($15,999 / £15,795) [Winner]
- Sony VPL-XW6000ES SXRD ($11,999)
- JVC DLA-NZ7 D-ILA ($10,999 / £10,999)
$25,000 – $30,000
- JVC DLA-NZ9 D-ILA ($26,000 / £25,400) [Winner]
- Sony VPL-XW7000ES SXRD ($28,000 / £14,999)
Analysis: Which JVC projector is the best choice?
Clearly a clean score for JVC, although Sony appears to have put up a good fight, with its projectors slightly behind JVC in the overall score in the budget and mid-range categories. Given that the XW6000ES in the mid-range category and the XW6000ES in the budget category are cheaper than the JVC models (by $4,000 for the XW6000ES), there is a strong value proposition for both models.
The JVC DLA-NZ8 which won the mid-range category topped our list of the best 4K projectors, so we’re not surprised it receives an award. Does its big brother DLA-NZ9, Shootout’s top shooter, really deserve a $10,000 cost increase?
Both of these laser light-driven models use native 4K D-ILA (JVC’s term for liquid crystal on silicon) display chips along with proprietary 8K/e-shiftX technology to efficiently display 8K resolution images. (The HDMI 2.1 ports on both projectors support 8K video input.) They support 120Hz, making them a great option for PS5 or Xbox Series X gaming. Both projectors also support high dynamic range HDR10 and HDR10+ sources and come with a wide range of HDR-specific JVC features, including dynamic HDR tone mapping Frame Adapt HDR and Theater Optimizer, a feature that takes into account the size and gain of a specific projection screen used to further fine-tune HDR presentations.
The main difference between the two is peak brightness, with the NZ9 having 3,000 lumens and the NZ8 2,500 lumens. The two models also have slightly different native contrast ratio specs, with the NZ9 at 100,000:1 and the NZ8 at 80,000:1.
I had the opportunity to see actual 8K footage displayed by the DLA-NZ9 on a 124-inch screen in the demo provided by JVC at CES 2022, and the image quality was breathtaking. If the NZ8 can reach as much as 75% of that level of performance – and based on the accounts I’ve read of Shootout, I have a feeling it can – it would be the projector that I would like to have in my home theater.