I got the JVC NZ8 a year late, as did a lot of people. The pandemic lead to massive chip shortages which also affected projectors. JVC was also moving their factory from Malaysia back to Japan, at least for the production of their more expensive offerings, the NZ8 and NZ9.
While I was offered a non-Japanese unit a few months prior to receiving my NZ8, I decided to wait so I could get a Japanese one, if for nothing else, peace of mind.
This review isn’t going to be as exhaustive as my NP5 review, partly because we are working on other things that will be of interest to a lot of you, and partly because there has been exhaustive and detailed coverage of the NZ8 on the forums. I might do a follow-up with some further numbers, as time allows. Having said that, a lot of you have been asking me to share my thoughts on the NZ8, so here they are along with some numbers that may be of interest.
Coming in at 23 kgs / 50 pounds, the NZ8 is far from small or light. In fact, this was the first projector I had to 100% make sure to mount onto a beam properly and I needed a helper to lift it up onto the mount. I managed just fine by myself with previous units, but I wasn’t going to risk my back or the NZ8.
Also, not a lot of mounts will fit this beast simply due to the weight, but I found a mount locally in Australia that was meant for commercial installations that was both unobtrusive and relatively cheap. It can handle around 3x the weight of the NZ8 so no risk of and NZ8 accidentally dropping on heads in the back row.
I have been using the NZ8 as my daily driver for around 8 months, both with and without a Lumagen. I calibrated the modes that I was using for both SDR and HDR after about a month of use. The projector arrived with 2.0 firmware installed out of the box so the review is based on this firmware with improvements to HDR and the addition of laser dimming mode 3.
SDR – Overall
One of the main differences between lamp-based and laser-based JVC projectors is the use of the iris. While the lamp-based units use the front iris to improve black levels and contrast, the laser-based JVCs use a static iris with dynamic laser modulation called Laser Dimming (LD). While LD can improve the black floor by lowering overall brightness, it can’t really create additional contrast. This is in contrast to a dynamic iris which can do both: lower the black floor and create a measurably higher contrast in the same frame of video.
So when I got my JVC NZ8, I eyeballed a manual iris position that I felt looked closest to my JVC X7000’s contrast performance which was at medium laser -8 iris. It later turned out that both the -8 iris on the NZ8 and my X7000 at 0 iris were bang on matched for a 40K : 1 on/off contrast with the NZ8 looking brighter than my X7000.
At these settings, the NZ8 looks spectacular, especially because the higher APL contrast (yes, including ANSI) have improved and create an image that looks more 3-dimensional on more of the content.
The NZ8 is also the first projector where 2.4 gamma looks great and doesn’t kill near-black detail. It just looks right. With the X-series projectors I felt like 2.3 – 2.35 gamma was the maximum without obliterating shadow detail, no matter the calibration. This is likely due to how near-black gamma is handled on these units. There’s simply a lot more nuance near black. There’s a catch however, which I’ll get into more in the contrast section – and a separate follow-up article.
Colours are another stand-out for SDR content: they look exceptional likely due to the added brightness and intra-scene contrast.
While the on / off contrast drop from the X7000 was somewhat noticeable in very dark scenes, the Laser Dimming is very effective in lowering the black floor to bring it more in line with the X-series units. While you do lose a bit of contrast in darker scenes, where the X-series units’ dynamic iris can create massive amounts of contrast within the same frame, you gain contrast in brighter scenes. In fact, the NZ8 is probably the most balanced JVC projector I have used in this regard.
Laser Dimming doesn’t call attention to itself, except for movie credits. During a movie or show, it is effectively transparent.
LD Mode 1 is very smooth, but does take a bit of hit to contrast. Mode 2 keeps contrast better, but it isn’t as transparent with a hint of highlight compression at times. However, this isn’t really distracting and is well balanced.
HDR – Overall
The JVC NZ8’s HDR performance is exceptional due to its on-board dynamic tone-mapping capability. The dynamic tone-mapping has 5 levels of granularity from -2 to +2 and now has two different auto modes: auto (normal) and auto (wide).
The auto modes will pick the tone-curve automatically based on the content meta-data. With the wide setting introduced in firmware v2.0, the JVC NZ8 defaults to a brighter tone-curve automatically as it detects content.
However, I admit I feel like the normal mode is not bright enough and wide is a bit too bright so I just settled on using 0 for a balanced medium. While this doesn’t automatically alter the tone-curve based on meta-data, it still looks great and is pretty much hands off with 99% of content.
The JVC NZ8 covers pretty much 100% of P3 with the colour filter in place. While this reduces brightness by around 30%, it can be a good trade-off for content that has a lot of greens and cyans as this is where the gamut-extension is most obvious. Since I find the NZ8 plenty bright on medium laser even for HDR content, there’s headroom to kick it into high laser when using the P3 filter with challenging material. It is this flexibility which makes these laser units so compelling.
I decided to check out Avatar and Pacific Rim in 3D. Since there’s no specific 3D mode, you need to set up one of the picture modes for 3D. I set the projector to high laser, fully open iris, CMD on low and put in Avatar.
As the movie started, I was treated to the best 3D image I had seen on any projector to date. The excellent brightness and contrast of the image was just striking. I saw details in that movie that I hadn’t seen before. It was simply breathtaking.
I found the motion to be rather good and there was only very minimal ghosting if any. I was fully immersed in the movie.
Then I put in Pacific Rim in 3D and again I was treated to a gorgeous image dripping in neon hues against pitch black backgrounds. The NZ8 is no joke in terms of its 3D performance and it very easily bests the X series, the NX series, the NP5 and in fact any DLP I have seen, because of the combination of contrast and brightness.
Even though the X series had excellent contrast, its brightness was still lacking to do 3D justice on anything larger than a 100″ screen. The NZ8 is simply in another league. I recon to get anything better, you’d need to see 3D on a Christie 6DLP laser.
Now let’s go through the projector’s individual performance characteristics.
I am using the NZ8 on a 125″ 16:9 Acoustically Transparent screen with top masking to enable transforming the screen into cinemascope – and other aspect ratios. The AT screen has around 20% of light loss compared to unity gain white.
The NZ8 feels plenty bright on this screen in medium laser for both SDR and HDR. With SDR at -6 iris and HDR at 0 iris, I am getting 60nits in SDR and close to 90nits in HDR. This is an insane level of performance considering I used to get only around 60nits on my JVC X7000 beyond around 1000hrs on the lamp in high lamp on a unity gain white screen!
However, if I want a lot of pop and brightness, I can kick the unit into high laser and be left with a very bright image. I have included a table below that summarises how brightness fluctuates based on laser power and filter position.
|Normal Filter||Wide Filter (P3)|
Now let’s translate this to lumens based on achievable calibration with a 10% window size (which btw you shouldn’t do if you use LD Mode 1 or LD Mode 2 – calibrate at 100% window size, but content will benefit with increased brightness at lower APLs.)
The below numbers are a bit of a fudge in that you cannot really get 2400 lumens as lumens is measured with 100% window size, but actually content will look brighter to a point that it might reach the equivalent of a 2400 lumens image after calibration. This is due to these new laser projectors putting out more light with lower APL scenes due to the effect of “light recycling” with unused light being directed back into the light path. So please don’t email me to say you cannot get 2400 lumens after calibration. These numbers are to illustrate the point of what content will look like when comparing to other projectors.
|Normal Filter||Wide Filter (P3)|
|High Laser||2400 lumens||1680 lumens|
|Medium Laser||1920 lumens||1320 lumens|
|Low Laser||1440 lumens||960 lumens|
Lastly, I wanted to share how brightness changes based on manual iris position. With the first table and the one below, you can calculate expected brightness for all modes, as long as you measured one of the modes.
I now use -6 iris for SDR on my AT screen. This is to offset the AT screen brightness loss but still improve contrast , as -6 iris still gives around 37,000:1 on/off. In comparison, -8 iris is bang on 40,000:1, and is more ideal but not with regards to brightness on my AT screen, unless it’s very dark sci fi content. To give you more of an idea of how contrast changes based on iris position at my minimum throw, please see the below table.
As you can see, the unit measures much higher than the NP5 as the iris is closed down, so I am getting a considerable uplift in on/off. If I wanted even more contrast, I could kick the unit into high laser and close down the iris more, to around -10.
However, it doesn’t measure better than the X7000 sample.
|Iris Position||NZ8 On/Off||NP5 On/Off||JVC X7000 On/Off|
|-16 (dynamic iris min step)||N/A||100,000:1||500,000:1|
All Measured using 100% window patterns at the same distance from screen
You could argue that achieving such contrast with the X7000 in the real world is not feasible. However, that statement is not entirely accurate, as you can indeed achieve that level using the dynamic iris feature. The lack of a dynamic iris system on the NZ8 as compared to the NX and the X series means you are limited to the contrast you created with the manual iris step, more or less. Since laser dimming cannot physically create more contrast, there is some digital manipulation of the image in the Laser Dimming Modes to create deeper blacks.
In contrast, the NX, NP and X series units were able to close down the iris in dark scenes to restrict light and therefore physically improve contrast with up to around 500,000:1 dynamic contrast in Auto 1 mode or 250,000:1 in Auto 2 mode for the X-series units, which the NZ8 cannot match.
If you have a look at the below table which has the rounded numbers for dynamic APL contrast for the three units, you will see that there is approximately a 40% uplift in contrast at 1% APL. This actually means that very dark scenes will render with AT LEAST 40% more contrast on the X series JVCs, but this grows exponentially under 1% APL. Even though the NZ8 has higher theoretical contrast at 0% black, that is an abrupt shift due to laser shutoff as opposed to usable contrast near black like on X series.
However, on the opposite end, JVC has improved ANSI contrast substantially, by up to 65%. While there isn’t a lot of content near ANSI, this improvement is due to less reflections within the light path and therefore improve my main issue with the NP5: inter-pixel contrast. Since there is a lot less streaking and blooming with bright pixels over dark backgrounds, it actually improves perceived local contrast and perceived sharpness even at APLs below ANSI.
If you remember from the NP5 review, the Epson UB6050 measured approx 330:1 for ANSI contrast as well, so JVC has basically caught up with LCD projectors in this area, even if not quite in DLP territory, which can achieve essentially double this.
|APL||NZ8 Dynamic||NP5 Dynamic||NX7 Dynamic||JVC X7000 Dynamic|
/ Too dark to measure
Data is Auto 1 on NP5 and X7000, while LD1 on NZ8
With regards to lower contrast under 2% ADL, I am not going to lie: this backwards step is visible in the darkest of scenes, with blacks being just ever so slightly lifted compared to the X series units. However, laser dimming works well enough to make up for some of this reduction in performance, so let’s look at how JVC implemented this feature.
Laser Dimming Mode 1
The aim of LD Mode 1 is to
- Lower the black floor as much as possible
- Don’t mess with highlights or tone mapping of the image in general
- Make laser dimming as seamless as possible by not having large jumps in brightness all of a sudden
I think this mode is actually really good for dark sci fi such as The Expanse or the Alien movies. While this mode comes at the cost of some ADL contrast, it allows the black floor to approach that of the X series without much distraction. That is unless you are standing at the screen with a light meter measuring contrast numbers.
Laser Dimming Mode 2
The aim of LD Mode 2 is to
- Keep the black floor as low as possible (a bit more aggressively compared to LD Mode 1)
- Keep ADL contrast intact compared to no laser dimming engaged
To achieve these two aims, LD Mode 2 brightens the overall image on the screen and compresses highlights. This allows the image to not appear overly dim as the laser is dimmed, and it retains more contrast. However, the highlight compression might create some slight artefacts. There can also be a bit of a black crush in some very very dark scenes (like some very dark space scenes in the Expanse), but I think it’s rare.
Now I mentioned this in my tone mapping article that unfortunately, LD Mode 2 does not work very well with external tone-mapping solutions. This is likely because JVC ‘s algorithm needs to know how HDR tone-mappping is performed so that highlights and especially midrange are not destroyed. So I find LD Mode 2 works extremely well as long as you don’t employ outboard tone mapping – such as with a Lumagen. Unfortunately, since this is my favourite LD mode, it put a nail in the coffin for the Lumagen – or for MADVR for that matter, as I wasn’t willing to give up the black level and contrast offered by this laser-dimming mode, but I could also see the artefacts created by the mix of external tone-mapping and LD Mode 2.
Laser Dimming Mode 3
The aim of LD Mode 3 is as follows:
- Retain ADL contrast at all costs
- Retain all highlights
- Try and lower the black floor but only if it doesn’t contradict with aims 1 and 2
LD Mode 3 basically checks for the brightest pixel on the screen and will not engage laser dimming unless the brightest pixel is lower than 100% luminance – and the average picture level calls for it (it is dark enough).
Unfortunately, this has its own draw-backs. Black levels are noticably higher, and there can be large jumps in laser dimming levels that can be a bit jarring. That is unless you lower the manual iris where contrast is large enough that this isn’t as much of an issue. However, I just don’t find LD Mode 3 transparent enough for darker or mixed content.
However, there are things that JVC could do to bring back some contrast on future models: a second-generation dynamic iris working alongside laser dimming. There were instances of this with Sony trying its hand at such a hybrid solution . Of course, one issue why JVC was so keen to phase out a dynamic iris system was reliability. JVC has had to replace dynamic irises under warranty due to failure when run over around 6000- 8000hrs on the X series. Such mean time between failures isn’t exactly stellar. So any such dynamic iris system would need to be more reliable.
Another option that I wish JVC would entertain would be a 4K unit that uses a 1080p panel with eShiftX: that is shifting the panels 4x to achieve native 4K projection. Considering how well eShiftX works on the new NZ units, this could be utilised on lower-end 4K units that aim to deliver ultimate black levels alongside a second-generation dynamic iris system. This way prices could be lowered while performance with regards to black-levels improved for those that value black levels over native 4K and 8K compatibility.
Please note that the above comments apply to the NZ8 in its factory modes and calibrated to reference. However, there will be a follow-up article on emulating the X-series with the NP and NZ series units which change the game somewhat. It is linked here.
In my NP5 review, I was complaining about sharpness. At the time I did say that I had a hunch that it was due to the inter-pixel bleed due to the reflections within the light path, more than issues with failing to resolve the pixels.
I think this is now confirmed for me. Partly because my NZ8 is less able to resole the pixel grid than the NP5 I had here, but at the same time looks sharper. Now granted, eShiftX helps to up the detail even further, but even without it, I feel like the picture from the NZ8 looks sharper.
Ok, so why is the pixel grid more difficult to see on this NZ8 unit than the NP5 I had here? There could be two reasons:
- Lens lottery: some lenses are simply sharper than others
- For JVC to improve contrast on D-ILA panels, they need to lower the inter-pixel gap to reduce reflections back into the light path from the grid. This is just a wild guess, but it could be that higher-contrast panels meant for NZ8 and NZ9 do have somewhat lower inter-pixel-gap and hence the pixels are more difficult to resolve. Now with an NZ9, JVC does include a better lens with more resolving power, but that is not something the NZ8 gets. So it is possible that less NZ8 units would have the pixel grid resolved than lower-end (and therefore lower-contrast) units.
Turning on eShiftX helps with sharpness and the picture appears higher-resolution both on static but especially on moving images, as motion resolution also seems to improve with eShiftX. Additionally, if you use the zoom aspect ratio for cinemascope content which uses the full panel width and full panel resolution, scaling done in 8K will likely be less detrimental to the image. This is likely adding to the difference in sharpness with eShiftX on and off.
Ultimately, the NZ8 has a very organic look to its projection, at any seating distance, without any inter-pixel gap. It looks a lot more like a very pristine optical print than digital projection in a very good way. There is no other projector I have seen to deliver such a thing, certainly no DLP or LCD projector.
The NZ8 has exceptional colour processing without any banding or artefacts. While we may take this for granted, even Sony has struggled with this on their SXRD projectors.
The NZ8 covers 98% of REC709 without the colour filter and 98% of P3 with the colour filter, which is excellent. Without the filter it only covers around 85% of P3 which isn’t amazing but it is also not the end of the world if you wanted more light output. Since only green and cyan are affected in any meaningful way, the saturation might be a good trade-off for higher peak brightness.
Image processing is very good, although not exceptional. I feel that for the price, JVC should include better sharpening algorithms than the onboard MPC (Multiple Pixel Control). For example, contrast-adaptive sharpening in the form of the previous Clear Black control from the X series is missing.
To compensate, I am using Darbee and light sharpness processing for Blu Ray (in the form of an Oppo BDP-103D) and just sharpness processing for UHD Blu Ray on the Panasonic UB420 – which has the same processing as the UB9000 in a (much) cheaper chassis and without the additional audio circuitry.
8K upscaling is certainly effective, and it is great that this is available on a projector. However, it is rather basic in its operation – very much like the previous MPC algorithms. Ultimately, we have Sony and Samsung doing AI upscaling on their higher-end TVs for a few years now so I do wonder what AI upscaling could achieve here.
One huge bonus is that there is the possibility to feed 8K content to the unit down the line once outboard 8K upscaling is available, which is only a matter of time. In any case, this is a minor quibble as the image presented with 8K eShiftX on is simply exceptional. What’s more, the NZ8 is future proof in terms of its 8K HDMI input for many years to come. In fact, you do wonder if we will need any other HDMI upgrade beyond this point.
I thought I’d cover gaming after image processing as it is closely related. I was a bit apprehensive connecting up my Xbox Series X to the NZ8 after my rather lacklustre experience – and headache – with the NP5. However, I shouldn’t have been concerned.
I first started up Forza Horizon 3, which is a 30fps game on my normal SDR mode. I had CMD on high and laser dimming on. Since Forza Horizon is already rather laggy in terms of controls, I didn’t notice anything. Until that is I started up Halo 5 and Halo MCC. The controls all of a sudden felt really laggy, so clearly there was a lot of lag introduced by JVC’s CMD and laser dimming combined. Turning both of these features off remedied some of the lag nicely. However, the JVC NZ8 was the first projector where I felt like I needed to turn on Low Latency Mode (LLM).
I was again a little apprehensive about this as JVC’s D-ILA tech isn’t exactly known for excellent pixel response times, so I was expecting to see some blurry mess – akin to the NP5. I was pleasantly surprised, however… the NZ8 looked and felt great to game on in LLM. As a positive, you can also use eShiftX to upscale things to 8K which also improves motion resolution. I feel like this is a huge advantage compared to the NP5 and puts the JVC in the same league for gaming performance – and enjoyment – as Epson’s LCD units, especially with the improved brightness and ANSI.
As a side note, LLM will be greyed out until you turn off laser dimming. This was a bit confusing to me first as it’s not explained on the user interface, so needed to dig into the manual for this. Surely, I would expect JVC to allow you to turn LLM on regardless and automatically turn off the other features not compatible with it, but that is not how it works. It’s not a huge deal but a bit of a usability issue in my opinion.
Also a positive is that the NZ8 goes very bright in high laser for that added pop, so much so that I didn’t feel the need to use the HDR mode on my Xbox Series X. However, for completeness, I did switch on HDR. Unfortunately, Dynamic Tone Mapping introduces delay as well, but static tone mapping looked a bit lackluster. I could have uploaded a custom tone curve into the JVC’s custom gamma slots, which would have remedied the low HDR brightness for static HDR, but it’s kind of annoying to have to do that. I kind of wished for Epson’s HDR brightness slider for the static HDR mode.
The JVC NZ8 is the most hands-off projector I have ever had the pleasure of using, and is a massive upgrade in terms of usability from the JVC X series or even Epson’s projectors.
The JVC has the ability to automatically switch to the correct picture mode dependent on the input signal. This automatic switching can be configured for SDR, HDR10, HLG and 3D content. As long as you don’t need to switch installation modes between different aspect ratios, you do not need to fiddle with the remote once the projector is set up.
This is also aided by the automatic selection of dynamic tone mapping brightness, which can be further configured with the Theatre Optimiser. The Theatre Optimiser can alter the tone-map for HDR processing on the fly based on laser life, laser brightness, manual iris position and screen size, which makes this even more hands off – especially if you need to use different zoom settings for 16:9 and cinemascope content. Absolutely exceptional work on this by JVC.
The only thing I wished for was a separate automatic slot for HDR10+ and Game Mode which would be triggered by the auto low latency mode on the Xbox.
The JVC NZ8 is very well made and feels like a piece of high-end electronics, more so than the X series did. The unit is built like a tank and is substantial both in size and weight.
While there are still some issues with bright corners reported by users, I feel this isn’t as much of an issue as I saw with the NP5. My unit has more bright corners than my X7000 which pretty much has none. But they aren’t visible with content or on a black screen – as long as laser dimming is on. If laser dimming is off, it takes a few seconds on a black screen to see them and even then you would have to be looking for them. While this isn’t ideal, it is also not as much of a deal-breaker as I thought it would be.
As Compared to Other Projectors
JVC X Series
I have had the pleasure of seeing pretty much all models of the X series. Currently, I have an X7000 as a spare which is an incredibly good sample. However, I have had the X9500 and watched countless movies on an X9900, also.
The X series still reigns supreme when it comes to black levels and on/off contrast, no doubt about it. The NZ8 had quite big shoes to fill and it didn’t quite fill them. However, the NZ8 is better in every other respect: resolution, brightness, usability, HDR processing and even contrast in brighter scenes.
The NZ8 has 3 laser dimming modes to offset the contrast disadvantage which work very well. But there’s no higher compliment than this: the X7000 hasn’t been turned on beyond testing since I got the NZ8. I do miss the crazy good blacks in the occasional scene in very dark movies, but ultimately, the NZ8 holds its own and is a very good performer all-around.
Compared to the NP5, the NZ8 has better blacks and contrast, as well as better motion handling, especially with eShiftX on. While I couldn’t game on the NP5 due to the motion not being smooth enough for my liking – and because it gave me a headache – I had no such issue with the NZ8.
The NZ8 also gets much brighter due to the laser – and light recycling. So much so that it feels like a huge uptick in performance, as the brightness difference isn’t subtle. Add to this the convenience of laser compared to a lamp and it is a much better projector – as the price also reflects.
JVC NX Series
When compared to the NX7 and NX9, the NZ8 loses some contrast near black, however this is offset by the much better ANSI contrast. While the NX7 and NX9 units had issues with streaking and keeping contrast in brighter scenes, the NZ8 has no such issue.
Add to this the inclusion of laser, native 8K input and full-fat 8K upscaling – and the NZ8 is a better value than both NX series units. However, an NX9 will look better with very dark movies, than the NZ8, simply due to the dynamic iris being able to create more contrast near black.
The Sony XW7000 is price matched to the NZ8 in Australia / New Zealand, while it is price matched to the NZ9 in the US.
The Sony has the clear brightness advantage with 3200 lumens vs NZ8’s 2500 lumens. However, light recycling closes the gap somewhat after calibration.
Having said that, the Sony is better suited to larger screen sizes above 140″. It also has much better upscaling and sharpening in the form of Sony’s own Reality Creation, although has no 8K upscaling or 8K capability like the NZ8. While the Sony doesn’t have DTM, it has incredibly well-judged tone-mapping which can create the illusion of the unit having more contrast than it actually does. Sony’s movie mastering background really shines through here, and can at times best the JVC in terms of accuracy – especially as we see Sony’s TVs do the same when compared to a mastering monitor.
ANSI / Higher APL contrast has always been Sony’s strong suit, which also shows with the XW7000. However, the NZ8 has caught up here to a point where this isn’t really much of a difference.
The XW7000 is let down by much worse black levels in dark scenes (10,000:1 vs 25,000:1 on off contrast), some considerable black crush, and a laser dimming algorithm that is not nearly as effective as JVC’s. Sony has really dropped the ball with laser dimming, as a well-implemented algorithm could have closed the gap between the two units to a significant margin. Alas, Sony didn’t do its homework in this area.
There is no comparison really. While the UB6050 is a very good projector in its price range, the NZ8 delivers a complete knockout here. The main issue with the UB6050 is its lamp and calibration stability over time, which needs adjustment regularly. The stability of laser pays dividends for the NZ8 here.
Brightness is also no longer better on the UB6050 after calibration. The NZ8 looks brighter, especially after around 300hrs on the lamp of the UB6050.
The laser dimming is much more transparent on the JVC compared to the dynamic iris on the Epson, especially in dynamic mode which has the most contrast on the Epson.
The NZ8 delivers dimensionality in both dark and bright scenes that eclipses the UB6050.
The Epson LS12000 is again an excellent projector in its price-range. While on paper the LS12000 has a brightness advantage, this isn’t quite the case after calibration.
Laser dimming is better implemented on the JVC and is more flexible. The only picture mode where the Epson has impressive laser dimming is in its Dynamic picture mode which isn’t as accurate or easy to calibrate as the rest of the picture modes.
Additionally, even there, it isn’t nearly as transparent as it is on the JVC, simply due to the lower black floor on the JVC and somewhat better-judged dimming algorithm.
One of the big omissions on the LS12000 is the lack of a manual iris, which would have allowed for much better on/off contrast when closed down. Along with a better dimming algorithm, the inclusion of one could have narrowed the gap between the Epson and JVC.
DTM is also better on the JVC, since the Epson doesn’t have a fully implemented DTM solution. However, Epson’s approach to HDR is still very well implemented and usable. In fact, once it’s set up properly in capable hands, it rarely needs adjustment just like on the JVC. In fact, I feel that it is somewhat better for gaming due to its flexibility and better static tone curves out of the box.
Having said that, the Epson is an excellent projector in its price range, just not quite on the level of the NZ8. It is more suited to mixed content such as TV, games and movies as opposed to a pure movie monster that the NZ8 is.
I thoroughly enjoy gaming on an Epson projector for example, and the LS12000 is better than the NP5 in this area. It is a tie with the NZ8, as HDR gaming will be better on the Epson, while SDR gaming on the JVC NZ8 – out of the box that is.
AutoCal & Calibration
One area where the new JVC laser units excel is with AutoCal. AutoCal will calibrate all laser levels and laser dimming when you run a colour AutoCal which is miles ahead compared to the lamp-based units, where you had to calibrate each iris range. So instead of calibrating colour 4 times per lamp and filter position, now you only need to do it once – at the exact manual iris position you are going to use.
So for example, for SDR I use -6 iris at medium laser and no filter. So I can run a gamma-only autocal from the lens using my colorimeter and then run a colour-only autocal from the screen using my spectro. Calibration is done for SDR. On the lamp-based units, I would need to run colour another three times to ensure the dynamic iris will work ok. Not here, it has been taken care of during colour autocal with the unit shifting through the laser power levels. Huge time-saving.
I may go into the calibration details a bit more in a follow-up article, but I will leave it here for now.
If you want to know more about AutoCal, there is a new Pro Guide available here. I would also recommend you get The Display Calibration Guide to learn more about display calibration. This will allow you to touch up the calibration from time to time, but also verify your AutoCal results.
We need to keep things in perspective: the only projector that is better on the consumer market (not prosumer market) at the moment is the JVC NZ9, which is almost double the price. So any quibbles around contrast performance is only relative to the X series, and even then the X-series would only win in a very limited number of scenes. For any other content, and in any other aspect of the image quality, the NZ8 is a massive leap forward.
What’s more, the NZ8 and NZ9 are the most future-proof projectors on the market right now with their ability to accept and display all pixels of an 8K input. While this isn’t going to be needed for a while, still it is only a matter of time for 8K streaming boxes and content to become available. If rumours are to be believed, Sony is preparing a Playstation 5 Pro console which will have 8K output enabled. If such a thing comes to pass, then you can bet that the 8K output will be enabled on the Xbox Series X and PS5 standard consoles as well, as they have the capability for 8K output, even if not rending games at 8K, minus a select few such as the Touryst.
The laser is a massive leap forward, as I remember the times – not so long ago – where lamps would age rapidly and would require continuous touch-up to the projector’s calibration to keep image quality at peak performance. Now with laser, this isn’t nearly as much of an issue. While calibration will still drift, it will not drift nearly to the same degree as with a lamp.
What’s more, the projector’s brightness will keep a lot more constant for a lot longer. This is especially true if the projector is used in mid laser and / or with laser dimming which will prolong laser stability and laser life to an even greater degree. After all, people who bought JVC’s first consumer laser projector, the Z1, did not lose much brightness if any at all over 4000 – 8000 hours of use, which bodes well for JVC’s new laser units over their lifespan.
In conclusion, the major draw for the NZ8 is that it does a LOT of things right. Sure, it might not have the very best on/off contrast we have seen in a JVC, but it is an incredibly balanced projector, much more so than anything that came before it and does better with a variety of content than previous JVCs.
It is also the most user-friendly and hands-off projector to date, beyond its initial setup that is.
So then – this is an absolute recommendation. After almost a year of ownership, I have no regrets investing in a JVC NZ8, even though it is the most money I have spent on a projector thus far.