JVC might lag a little behind its rivals in the TV market, but it's one of the biggest names in big-screen home cinema. And the new DLA-HD550 will only add to its reputation. Essentially this is a stripped out, cheaper version of the DLA-950. It omits the THX certification and ISF calibration modes of its sibling, and sports a reduced contrast ratio of 'only' 30,000:1; but it shaves $2500 off the 950's price.
Extensive inputs and a motorised lens adjustment system make installation a doddle, while six picture modes help get you up and running in moments. Dedicated tweakers can first correct the white balance to suit different types of screen, then dig into two individual user-adjustable memory settings for almost every conceivable aspect of image adjustment.
Up and running, the JVC's exemplary image quality gives still more reason to be cheerful. Contrast levels may be reduced, but they're still fabulous: Up's vivid animation springs from the screen, its colours and edges snapping to the fore, while The Dark Knight's murky night-time ambush sequence is laid bare.
There's a Clear Motion mode which can, depending on source, help with panning stability, but to us movement looked more natural with the mode off.
Upscaling of standard-def sources is first-rate too, the JVC benefiting from Silicon Optix HQV video processing - but we'd recommend using a projector this capable with HD sources wherever possible.
The 550 is even uncannily quiet, at 19dB. It all adds up to another sensational JVC projector.
Exemplary picture; quiet; easy to install; good value