JVC has long been a major player in the home theater projector space primarily because of the strength of their D-ILA panels. The DLA-NZ9 like all JVC DILA Home Theater projectors utilizes three JVC's 0.69inch native 4K D-ILA (4096 x 2160) devices. While manufacturers like Sony also make their own LCoS panels, JVC D-ILA panels historically have delivered higher native contrast which translates into superior black levels.
To further improve image clarity, a few years ago JVC introduced 8K e-shift technology in the NX9 which can shift each pixel diagonally 0.5 pixel to increase the unit's projected resolution.
The new and improved 8K/e-shiftX found NZ9/RS4100 along with the DLA-NZ8/RS3100 can now shift the image in four directions (up, down, left, and right) to produce over 35.3 million addressable pixels, which is enough to display 8K resolution faithfully. The D-ILA drive device was improved, and it is now possible to display images at a speed equivalent to 240Hz. The device is moving so fast that it would be difficult to differentiate between a "native" or "shifted" pixel.
While watching upscaled 4K and native 8K content, I switched the e-shiftX feature on and off and the difference was subtle but noticeable from my sitting position. This is because most content just doesn't have enough detail to fully exploit the benefit of native or e-shifted 8K.
The hottest buzzword in home theater is "8K." Most TV manufacturers offer at least one 8K flatpanel. However most flat panel TV range between 65" to 75" so they are too small to show the benefit of 8K from a normal viewing distance. However, the additional resolution provided by 8K could make a big difference in a projection system, particularly if you want to sit as close as possible to a massive screen. The NZ9 also includes a very good all-glass lens assembly to ensure every ounce of resolution is delivered on-screen.
100MM ALL-GLASS LENS ASSEMBLY
Good optics have a major impact on picture quality. The better lens assembly is one of the major reasons why the NZ9 (RS4100) costs $15,000 more than the (NZ7) RS2100.
The lens found in the NZ9 is 35 percent larger in diameter than the unit used in the NZ7. It also utilizes 18 all-glass elements set in 16 groups, with five of these elements featuring low dispersion optical coatings to prevent issues with chromatic aberration and provide a sharper edge-to-edge image
The better lens and selected parts make the NZ9 (RS4100) more efficient than the NZ8 (RS3100). The NZ9 can deliver an extra 500 lumens of brightness and 20 percent more native and dynamic contrast than the NZ* even though it uses using the same BLU-Escent laser light source. The len is the main reason why the NZ9 cost $10,000 more and is 5 pounds heavier than NZ8.
The NZ9 has arguably the best optics found on a projector anywhere near its price range. You would have to buy a more expensive Sony model like the VW1025ES ($40,000 SRP) equipped with ARC-F lens for the same optic quality.
48GBPS HDMI 2.1 INPUTS
While the JVC-DLA NX9 had 8K e-shift capabilities but due to its 18Gpbs HDMI 2.0b inputs, could not accept an 8K signal. However, the unit could upscale 4K content to 8K before it was displayed. All the new 8K-eshift models like the NZ9 include two 48Gbps HDMI 2.1 inputs so that they can accept both 8K@60fps and 4K@120fps.
Currently, there isn't a lot of 8K or high frame rate video content available but 4K@120fps can help deliver a smooth high-quality gaming experience from a high-end gaming PC as well as the latest PlayStation and Xbox gaming consoles.
I connected the NZ9 to a variety of gaming consoles including a PlayStation5, Xbox Series X, and high-end gaming PC. All these systems support 4K gaming at 120 frames per second. In addition, JVC loaned me a media server loaded with 8K/60fps content. The NX9 has no issues playing back both 4K high frame rate and 8K material.
While the inputs can support up to 48Gbps, we should note that HDMI inputs/outputs found on most A/V Receivers, video switchers, and gaming consoles are limited to 40Gbps. This is fine because the video information in a 48Gbps signal far exceeds the capabilities of the 10-bit panels/imagers found in consumer TVs and projectors including the NZ9.
FRAME ADAPT HDR WITH THEATER OPTIMIZER
Many of us have quickly become accustomed to outstanding HDR performance on our flat-panel TVs. However, HDR content doesn't just look good on many projectors. The HDR picture is typically too dark with blown-out, overbright highlights.
When it comes to HD and standard 4K content, most projectors can get the job done and have sufficient brightness to accurately convey all the information. When viewing HDR content, HDR projectors typically can't maintain the required brightness to faithfully reproduce the material. Therefore, projector manufacturers rely on tone mapping – which is a compromise between maintaining bright highlight details and delivering full-screen brightness.
A few years ago, JVC introduced an Auto Tone Mapping feature that automatically adjusts the projector's HDR settings (tone mapping) to optimize HDR10 image quality. The JVC projector used the static HDR metadata (Max CLL and Max FALL) to make tone mapping adjustments to better use the projector's brightness capabilities based on the on-screen image. To learn more about this feature, check out our review of the JVC LX-NZ3.
Auto Tone Mapping is a great step to better HDR, but embedded static MaxCLL and MAXFall metadata is applied throughout the entire movie so sometimes the tone mapping decisions made by the projector are inaccurate. For example, certain scenes can still appear too dark.
JVC determined that it was critical to add the capability to measure HDR metadata to further improve the HDR performance of their projectors. In 2019, JVC started shipping 4K DILA projectors equipped with both Auto Tone Mapping and Dynamic Tone Mapping. This new combination of technologies did an excellent job of balancing average screen brightness with the need to maintain highlight detail.
A flat panel TV's brightness is consistent regardless of the room environment but the brightness of a projected image can change depending on the screen size, screen gain, throw distance, and lamp life. To precisely tone map, the projector's processor needs to account for its exact brightness capability in your specific system.
JVC's new Theater Optimizer feature combines information provided by the user with the projector's current status information to provide a more accurate baseline on which to apply dynamic Tone Mapping.
For example, the user can input information like screen size and gain while the projector takes care of settings like lens zoom position, lamp condition, and other relevant details. By utilizing that user-inputted information and default projector information, the projector can automatically and precisely adjust itself for optimum tone mapping and brightness.
Theater Optimizer and Frame Adapt HDR features result in great-looking HDR10 content while eliminating the hassle of having to constantly make manual Brightness and Contrast adjustments from bright to dark scenes or from movie to movie.
JVC Home Theater projectors also support HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) to ensure that users are ready for live future HDR broadcast. HLG is based on a Gamma curve just like SDR, it does not need to be tone mapped by the projector.
While JVC's Frame Adapt HDR feature does an outstanding job measuring and dynamically tone mapping HDR10 content, the new DILA projectors like DLA-NZ9 also support HDR10+. This format is based on HDR10 but in HDR10+ content, the luminance information for each scene is embedded into the content as dynamic metadata, so tone mapping can be performed according to the specific scene. This helps the projector faithfully reproduce the HDR images as intended by the creators.
While HDR10 and Dolby Vision is the main way HDR content is currently distributed, Amazon Prime Video has announced support for HDR10+. There is also a limited number of 4K UHD Blu-ray discs available and a select number of UHD BD players from companies like Panasonic support it