JVC DLA-NZ8 4K Laser Projector Review

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JVC DLA-NZ8 4K Laser Projector Review

Image source: JVC
JVC sets a new standard with its latest laser-powered HDR 4K projectors lineup. The JVC DLA-NZ8 rightfully maintains its position as the premier choice in our best 4K projectors guide, as no new long-throw projectors have emerged to rival its performance. Boasting advanced HDR capabilities and 8K support, this laser-powered D-ILA model epitomizes the pinnacle of projector technology, albeit with a matching price tag. Despite a decline in price in the US market since our initial review, the DLA-NZ8 still commands $13,999. While this may seem steep, for those seeking the ultimate projector for a customized home theater experience, the DLA-NZ8 reigns supreme. The following review maintains its original assessment, reflecting the enduring excellence of the JVC DLA-NZ8.

The JVC DLA-NZ8 represents the company’s latest native 4K projector, departing from previous lamp-based iterations by adopting a BLU-Escent laser light source. This transition results in brighter images, enhanced consistency, and an extended lifespan without compromising black levels or increasing fan noise. Consequently, this outstanding projector builds upon JVC’s established strengths while introducing cutting-edge features.

Native 4K imagery is exceptionally detailed and precise, augmented by 8K/e-shiftX processing to elevate the visual quality of compatible content. The overall picture accuracy is remarkable, with superb SDR images and class-leading HDR performance, courtesy of JVC’s dynamic tone mapping and Theatre Optimiser feature. Moreover, support for HDR10+ ensures compatibility with the latest standards, while the 3D capabilities deliver vibrant, artifact-free visuals.

In addition to its stellar imaging capabilities, the DLA-NZ8 boasts two HDMI 2.1 inputs with support for 8K/60p and 4K/120p, catering to the needs of gamers. With an input lag of just 38ms, gaming enthusiasts will appreciate the responsiveness afforded by this projector. Furthermore, implementing HDMI 2.1 results in quicker signal detection, enhancing the overall user experience. Coupled with an intuitive remote, user-friendly menu system, and flexible installation options, including ceiling or stand mounting, it’s evident that the DLA-NZ8 prioritizes user convenience.

However, it’s worth noting that the DLA-NZ8 commands a premium price, albeit justified by its unparalleled performance. JVC’s new lineup aims to align with Sony’s pricing of 4K laser projectors, positioning the NZ8 as a compelling alternative. Notably, the absence of a direct competitor underscores the unique proposition of this projector. For those unwilling to compromise on performance, HDR tone mapping, feature comprehensiveness, and future-proofing, the DLA-NZ8 stands alone in its class.

Price and Availability

JVC’s new NZ series of laser-powered projectors retain the features of their lamp-based predecessors while introducing HDMI 2.1 inputs capable of supporting 8K/60p and 4K/120p, 8K/e-shiftX with actual 8K resolution, enhanced optics, and HDR10+ compatibility.

The flagship model, the DLA-NZ9 (also known as the DLA-RS4100 in select markets), leads the range with a staggering price tag of £24,999/$25,999. Boasting a claimed brightness of 3,000 Lumens, a native contrast ratio of 100,000:1, and a 100mm all-glass lens with ultra-high contrast optics, the NZ9 sets a new standard for projector excellence.

The DLA-NZ8 (DLA-RS3100) reviewed herein is priced at £15,800/$15,999. Offering similar features to the NZ9, albeit with reduced brightness at 2,500 Lumens and a contrast ratio of 80,000:1, the NZ8 maintains a formidable position in the lineup. While equipped with a smaller 65mm all-glass lens, the NZ8 benefits from the same enhanced optical path and premium features found in its higher-priced counterpart.

The DLA-NZ7 (DLA-RS2100) presents a more accessible option at £11,500/$10,999. Although resembling the NZ8 in many respects, the NZ7 lacks upgraded optics, boasting a brightness of 2,200 Lumens and a contrast ratio of 40,000:1. Additionally, it foregoes the broad color gamut filter present in higher-tier models and employs bi-directional 8K/e-shift technology, as opposed to the four-directional 8K/e-shiftX featured in the NZ8 and NZ9.

Performance

JVC DLA-NZ8 4K Laser Projector Review

Image source: JVC
The JVC DLA-NZ8 delivers the gorgeous, film-like imagery for which the company is justly famous. With its native 4K D-ILA chipset and 65mm all-glass lens, it ensures pictures are clear and detailed, satisfying even the most demanding pixel-peepers. The overall uniformity and geometry of the projected images are equally precise, covering all the basics flawlessly.

Color accuracy is exceptional, offering a beautifully natural reproduction that meets industry standards effortlessly. The light path has improved for more excellent contrast, complementing the deep blacks characteristic of JVC projectors. When combined with the increased brightness of the laser light source, the NZ8 produces images that truly stand out.

The projector excels in motion handling, delivering smooth pictures without blurring and unwanted artifacts. Its processing capabilities are superb, effectively upscaling lower-quality content to the NZ8’s 4K capabilities. The 8K/e-shiftX device is imposing, shifting pixels in four directions to create images with a perceived resolution of 8K.

While the NZ8 performs admirably with SDR content, it truly shines with HDR. In this regard, JVC projectors are in a class of their own. Apart from offering the necessary latitude from deep blacks to bright highlights, their cutting-edge tone mapping analyzes HDR content in real-time, rendering it perfectly to match the increased brightness and wider color gamut.

These class-leading HDR capabilities are aptly demonstrated in the film “Allied.” During a scene where Brad Pitt observes an air raid, the NZ8 showcases unrivaled contrast and flawless tone-mapping, depicting deep blacks in the night sky and intricate shadow detail. The HDR also accentuates bright tracer fire and flak, allowing them to stand out against the darkness.

The NZ8 utilizes a filter to expand the color gamut, as evidenced in “The Greatest Showman,” where the detailed 4K image bursts with saturated primaries. HDR further leverages its increased dynamic range, highlighting all the details in brightly lit scenes under spotlights and ensuring specular highlights remain intact. The HDR experience is frequently breathtaking, preserving all details in shadows and delivering bright pictures without being overexposed. HDR images surpass SDR with their saturated colors and punchier dynamic range. Moreover, HDR10+ support enables the JVC to leverage additional tone mapping information, ensuring flawless content display.

This added capability is expertly showcased in the film “1917,” which incorporates HDR10+ dynamic metadata. The NZ8 beautifully reproduces the Oscar-winning 4K photography by Roger Deakins, with nighttime scenes lit only by flares demonstrating its prowess in rendering deep blacks and detailed shadows. While 3D technology may decline in popularity, the NZ8 still supports it admirably, delivering bright, accurate pictures free of ghosting when playing sustained Blu-rays. Optional RF transmitters and glasses enhance the experience, providing superior 3D images on a big screen compared to local theaters.
Lastly, the NZ8 boasts a 38ms input lag with low latency turned on, offering enjoyable, responsive gameplay. With 4K/120p support and a laser light source, it proves to be an excellent gaming projector.

Design

JVC DLA-NZ8 4K Laser Projector Review
Image source: JVC

The JVC DLA-NZ8 retains the design of its predecessor, featuring a matte black chassis known for its fantastic build quality. The only discernible difference lies at the rear, where slightly larger air vents are present, and there is no removable dust filter. The design incorporates curved elements into the chassis despite its size to mitigate its overall bulkiness. It’s worth noting that the NZ8 is substantial, measuring 500 x 234 x 505mm (WxHxD) and weighing a hefty 23.1kg. Consequently, it’s different from the projector one casually brings out for movie nights or watching sports events. This serious product is designed for permanent installation in a dedicated home cinema, utilizing a stand or ceiling mount.

The new model retains the 17-element, 15-group all-glass 65mm lens introduced in JVC’s previous generation of 4K projectors. However, it has been enhanced to improve contrast performance by adding an inside coating to suppress any reflected light. This upgrade allows the brighter NZ8 to maintain the same contrast ratio as its predecessor, the DLA-N7.

One of the most significant upgrades in this new generation of 4K projectors is the inclusion of HDMI 2.1 inputs, making JVC the first manufacturer to do so. These 48Gbps ports support both 8K/60p and 4K/120p, along with HDCP 2.3, 3D, and high dynamic range formats—specifically HDR10, HLG, and HDR10+, with the latter being a new addition. An unexpected benefit of HDMI 2.1 is that the NZ8 quickly locks onto video signals compared to previous JVC models, which were notably slow.

The included remote remains unchanged from the previous generation, and that’s good news because it’s an excellent controller. Comfortable to hold and easy to operate with one hand, it lays out all the buttons sensibly. The dedicated backlight enhances usability, effectively illuminating the button labels for easy, dark reading.

Features

The JVC DLA-NZ8 employs the company’s BLU-Escent laser diode light source, initially introduced in the ultra-expensive DLA-Z1. As a result, the NZ8 boasts increased brightness, greater consistency, and an impressive 20,000-hour lifespan. In practical terms, this means you could enjoy a film a day for the next 20 years without concerns about dimming or needing to replace the lamp. While utilizing the same three-chip 4K D-ILA device as JVC’s previous generation, the NZ8 also incorporates 8K/e-shiftX processing. This feature, which initially shifted pixels in two directions to enhance perceived resolution, now turns pixels in four directions to achieve full 8K resolution—a significant enhancement over its predecessor.

Regarding HDR, the NZ8 offers several class-leading features, including Auto Tone Mapping, which adjusts tone mapping based on static metadata. It also features Frame Adapt HDR, dynamically changing tone mapping in response to signal analysis, and Theatre Optimizer, which tailors HDR delivery to match screen size and gain. The NZ8 has motorized focus, zoom, and shift controls, simplifying installation. Lens memories for different screen aspect ratios further enhance user convenience. The menu system has been refined, now offering six Frame Adapt HDR features settings, while the Theatre Optimizer allows users to specify screen aspect ratios.

The laser light source offers three LD Power options (low, mid, and high) and two Dynamic CTRL settings for dynamically adjusting laser brightness. Surprisingly quiet in operation, even at higher settings, the laser makes a viable choice for those seeking punchier HDR images or using larger screens.

The Bottom Line

The JVC DLA-NZ8 may be costly, but for serious home cinema enthusiasts, it represents the pinnacle of 4K projectors regarding specifications and features. Its picture quality benefits from class-leading blacks, state-of-the-art HDR tone mapping, and cutting-edge 8K/e-shiftX processing. With a long-lasting laser light source and HDMI 2.1 inputs for future-proofing, the NZ8 is a compelling choice for those seeking top-tier cinematic experiences at home.

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