The JVC DLA-RS3100 (also known as the NZ8 when sold to professional customers) builds on JVC’s success with their previous NX series of projectors, but adds several new features that make a large difference. JVC’s 2022 lineup of laser projectors starts with the DLA-RS2100 (or NZ7) which retails for $10,999 and is topped by the DLA-RS4100 (or NZ9) which retails for $25,999. The DLA-RS3100 (or NZ8) is JVC’s middle model in their new lineup, retailing for $15,999.95.
With their most recent revision of their projector lineup, JVC has brought solid state BLU-Escent laser light sources to all three models, a tremendous technological advance in terms of light source longevity and contrast capabilities. JVC claims that the laser diode has a lifespan of 20,000 hours, equivalent to watching a 2.5-hour movie every day for 20 years, before its brightness reduces to half. The primary difference between the RS3100 and its more expensive sibling the RS4100 are in light output and lens. The step up from the RS3100, the RS4100 offers 500 additional lumens of light output, and upgrades the RS3100’s 65mm, 17-element, 15-group all glass lens to a 100m, 18-element, 16-group all glass lens.
The lens of the RS3100 offers both vertical and horizontal motorized lens shift, with a range of ±80% for the vertical and ±34% for the horizontal. Additionally, it supports a 2.0x motorized optical zoom, which supports screen sizes between 60 inches and 200 inches in a 16:9 aspect ratio, based on zoom and throw distance. With ten memory slots available to save various settings, such as zoom, focus, lens shift, pixel adjustments, and anamorphic modes, and multiple installation modes, the projector can be installed within the throw ratio of 1.4:1 to 2:8:1 for nearly any configuration. The lens can project a 200-inch image from as close as 20 feet, 4 inches and as far as 40 feet, 8 inches, while a 100-inch image would require a distance between 10 feet, 2 inches and 20 feet, 4 inches from the screen.
The RS3100 supports the new HDR10+ format, which allows for dynamic metadata on a frame-by-frame basis, allowing the projector’s new Frame Adapt HDR mode (more on that later). Additionally, the RS3100 and RS4100 both support the full CI-P3 color gamut using the Cinema Filter, which slightly lowers light output in favor of a broader color space. 3D support can be added with a $99 emitter.
In typical JVC fashion no compromises are made when it comes to contrast and black levels, and the JVC DLA-RS3100 offers a native contrast ratio of 80,000:1 and an infinite dynamic contrast ratio, courtesy of the on/off laser light source when in dynamic control Mode 3.
The RS3100 utilizes JVC’s D-ILA (Direct-Drive Image Light Amplification) 0.69-inch native 4K (4096×2160) chipset, which employs one chip for each primary color (red, green, and blue). The D-ILA technology has been enhanced in the NZ series when compared to the previous NX series, by doubling the speed of JVC’s e-shift pixel-shifting process from 120Hz to 240Hz. This improvement enables the NZ8/RS3100 and NZ9/RS4100 to achieve a complete 8K addressable pixel resolution using the latest 8K e-shiftX technology.
Unboxing & Build Quality
The first thing I noticed about this projector as I removed it from the shipping case was that it was extremely heavy, and larger than most projectors I had reviewed in the past. At approximately 40% larger by volume than my aging Sony VPL-VW675ES, this is not an insignificant difference. The RS3100 measures 19.75 inches wide, 20 inches long and 9.25 inches tall and weighs a whopping 51 pounds.
At the rear of the RS3100, owners will find all the input/output (I/O) options, such as two HDMI 2.1 inputs. These HDMI inputs are non-CEC compliant, but offer full support for 48 Gbps bandwidth and HDCP 2.3 in addition to the newer HDR standards of HLG and HDR10+. Also on the rear panel are an RS232 connection, a USB port for firmware service, a 3.5mm mini-jack for DC 12v trigger support, an RJ45 port for LAN connectivity, and a 3D Synchro port to connect a compatible 3D emitter. In addition, two large fan intake vents are present at the back, while the projector exhausts from the front. Tucked away you will also find on-board controls to navigate menus and power the projector on and off.
Installation & Calibration
Like previous generations, the RS3100 is both large and heavy, and barely fit on my shelf. I strongly recommend that potential buyers measure their current shelf first to ensure that the RS3100 will fit their viewing environment. For those using an overhead mount, you’ll want to be extra careful to ensure it supports the weight of the JVC DLA-RS3100.
JVC’s included remote for the RS3100 is in a word, underwhelming. While JVC seems to handily beat Sony in most areas with this projector, the remote is one area that leaves a great deal to be desired, which a cheap feel, and a minimal design. This remote frustration was magnified by the amount of time I spent in the OSD menu for my review.
Upon initially powering the unit on, I used the RS3100’s motorized focus and lens shift to adjust the picture to fit my screen. A quick perusal of the OSD shows that the RS3100 is quite intuitive to operate and shouldn’t require hours of intensive manual studying unless you enjoy that sort of thing. There are a few menus that aren’t entirely intuitive, however a few moments of exploration should suffice for most to learn their way around.
The RS3100 like all modern TVs and projectors ships with a factory calibration. While most higher end display manufacturers have managed to achieve a very satisfactory level of color accuracy and image quality out of the box thanks to factory calibration procedures, at this price point and in this reviewer’s opinion, it is well worth the additional investment to get a professional calibration. JVC has continued to offer a free Projector Calibration application that can be used with a compatible colorimeter (SpyderX Elite/Pro by Datacolor or the i1 Pro2 by X-Rite), which is a very nice feature for those who do not want to pay for a professional ISF calibration.
Using my SpectraCal C6-HDR colorimeter and a copy of CalMan Ultimate generously provided by Portrait Displays, I performed some quick baseline measurements of the out of the box picture modes and found that for SDR content, the User or Natural setting was quite close to reference.
Grayscale and gamma accuracy were quite good out of the box, with a total dE2000 of 3.74 and a measured gamma of 2.17 with the factory 2.2 Gamma selected.
Using JVC’s Projector Calibration software for SDR content took about an hour to complete, and yielded the below results:
In Use – Viewing Impressions
Viewing Impressions – SDR Content
With JVC’s long history of excellent contrast, and aided by a laser light source, the DLA-RS3100 is stellar for SDR content, and held up extremely well with a variety of titles. As usual in my reviews, I began my impressions with Disney Pixar’s Coco in UHD, a standard test disc for me regardless of display type. Due to the animation style used by Pixar, Coco offers intense colors with great saturation, and the RS3100’s performance was spectacular. Throughout my demo, color reproduction was accurate and black levels were inky without any noticeable crushing of detail. Shadows and highlights were also well resolved, with excellent overall image quality.
Another favorite demo disc of mine is Avatar on Blu-ray, and despite its humble 1080p resolution, this film looked fantastic on the RS3100, particularly nighttime jungle scenes as Jake and Neytiri make their way home after meeting the first time.
To evaluate contrast, I spent some time watching UHD favorites Dune and Passengers, both of which offer scenes with a great deal of shadow detail. In Dune, the landing scene on Arrakis is particularly excellent, as it features poorly lit scenes inside the landing ship. The laser light source of the RS3100 did a tremendous job here, yielding a bright high contrast image when required, but unerringly resolving shadow detail.
Going back to the slightly older Passengers, I watched the intro sequence where the ship moves against a background of stars. The black of space was inky, while foreground detail was well resolved with no loss of detail in shadowed and poorly lit areas.
HDR Performance Improvements
As mentioned above, JVC continues to lean heavily into improving the HDR viewing experience with their projectors, and in the case of the RS3100’s firmware version 2.00, JVC has released further enhancements to Frame Adapt HDR, including an adjustable HDR level setting, and two additional picture modes that can be adjusted based on Frame Adapt HDR. In this same firmware upgrade, JVC also added a dynamic control for the laser light engine, FILMMAKER MODE, and added additional screens for Screen Adjustment mode.
JVC offers three different dynamic control modes in HDR, each with their own benefits. The recently added Mode 3 turns off the laser light engine completely when the image fades to black. This may sound minor but is truly special to experience when watching in a dark room, as projector owners rarely get to experience this complete darkness as many directors intend.
After some initial playing, I settled on watching almost all HDR content in JVC’s Frame-Adapt HDR mode, which consistently delivered an excellent picture.
Viewing Impressions – HDR Content
Dune and Passengers are excellent candidates as both SDR and HDR review material, so I watched the same set of scenes from each with the RS3100 in Auto HDR mode, using my trusty Oppo UDP-205 as a source.
I was immediately struck by the marked improvement in HDR from my old but reliable Sony VPL-VW675ES. In a variety of scenes, the RS3100 had accurate, vibrant colors and significantly increased peak brightness without the red push or washed out color reproduction the VW675ES suffers without manual adjustment. Thanks to the laser light source, overall contrast doesn’t have to be compromised to deliver the light output HDR requires, making the RS3100 a quantum leap above the RS1000 I reviewed just a few years ago. In Dune’s landing sequence in HDR, the JVC DLA-RS3100 handled the dark opening frames perfectly, but managed to combine this with tremendous brightness in the highlights as the desert sun enters the ship when the doors open. This sequence is almost impossible to represent well in HDR on a conventional projector, as the darker background details are easily lost with the lamp in high output.
JVC’s expertise pushing the envelope in contrast performance for SDR over the past two decades is clearly paying off in the era of HDR. Their laser light engine implementation is truly impressive and combined with the Auto HDR picture setting, Dynamic Control Mode 3 and JVC’s Frame Adapt HDR technology, delivered a consistently excellent picture regardless of content.
Viewing Impressions – Gaming
Input lag (latency) is the bane of most gamers’ existence, particularly with shooters and games that depend on twitch reaction. JVC offers a low latency mode on the RS3100 that I put to the test while playing the newly released Dead Space Remake, and was pleasantly surprised by the experience. I was able to handle most jump-scare scenes well, and didn’t struggle more than I do on my LG OLED. As an added benefit, this game’s dark environments full of shadow contrasted with light, were practically built to showcase HDR, as the below screenshot demonstrates.
Playing games that are less latency sensitive like Horizon Forbidden West and The Last of Us Remake on the PS5, the RS3100 was a treat, allowing me to feel immersed in the game’s world like never before.
While PC gamers used to NVidia’s G-Sync or the open standard FreeSync on a conventional display may find a projector a step back in latency and smoothness while gaming, this is a relatively small trade-off to enable gaming on a 100+ inch screen. JVC does support refresh rates up to 240Hz, and regardless of the picture setting used, gaming was extremely enjoyable on the RS3100.
Three short years ago, I reviewed JVC’s first foray into true native 4K projectors with their DLA-RS1000, and walked away impressed. While HDR performance was good, the RS1000 still suffered from the basic limitations of a lamp based light source, poor contrast in scenes with extremely bright highlights. The introduction of laser light sources has solved this problem and catapulted this latest generation of JVC projectors from good to great, offering an uncompromising picture that will please even the choosiest videophile.
At a retail price of $15,999, the JVC DLA-RS3100 is not just premium, but expensive. This is not an impulse buy or a purchase to be taken lightly, yet once experienced, it is a piece of engineering that truly feels worth the cost. Whether it’s the fifty-one pound weight and Japanese built chassis, the 17-element, 15-group all glass lens or the overall picture quality almost everything about the RS3100 reeks of quality.
While PQ is fantastic, no product is perfect, and there are a few minor downsides to the RS3100. JVC has inexplicably chosen to pair this near perfect projector with a truly abysmal remote. Particularly in an era where Harmony remotes are a dying breed and more enthusiasts may have to use the included remote, JVC should have put more effort into a remote design that feels premium and exposes the many controls hidden without an aftermarket control solution. The RS3100 also takes a very long time to switch between picture modes, with the entire picture blanking for several seconds. This is not the end of the world, but I did find it frustrating on occasion. And finally, JVC has some work to do on fan noise, with the JVC DLA-RS3100 being quite loud at approximately 45 dB at my listening position 6 feet from the projector when the laser is in High mode. This drops substantially in Mid power mode but does make me wish I had a hush box in my room.
These quibbles aside, we all ultimately invest in a projector to reliably project a quality image, and in this most critical of areas the RS3100 delivers in spades. JVC’s laser light engine has improved contrast and black levels to a massive extent, largely solving for the most common shortfall of projectors vs newer OLED displays, while enabling extremely bright and pleasing highlights that make HDR content a revelation to re-watch.
It’s refreshing to see projector manufacturers like JVC innovating, pushing the envelope with their products and focusing like never before on an optimal home theater viewing experience. It’s rare in my experience for a manufacturer to add so much value to an already excellent product with a firmware update, but that’s exactly what JVC has done with their last 2 generations of projectors. JVC has added a laser light engine and improved dynamic tone mapping capabilities that enable a truly pleasing HDR experience with a light source that will last 20,000 hours. These improvements, coupled with the now ubiquitous availability of HDR content, makes this the perfect time to consider upgrading an aging projection setup. The RS3100 is big, expensive, and absolutely amazing. After living with it for the past few weeks, I can offer no higher endorsement of this projector than admitting it won’t be going back to JVC as this review concludes. I’ve found my new display. Highly Recommended.
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