|Sony VPL VW200 SXRD Video Projector|
|Home Theater Front Projectors SXRD Projectors|
|Written by Kevin Miller|
|Tuesday, 01 April 2008|
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Television and Movies
The VPL-VW200 is the most impressive effort from Sony in front projection to date. If you know where to set the key features of the VPL-VW200, and have it professionally calibrated, this projector is capable of stunningly accurate pictures. In fact, other than my Samsung SP-H710AE 720p resolution one-chip DLP projector, the Sony’s VPL-VW200 is the most color-accurate projector under $30,000 I have tested. If you’ve read any of my projector reviews in the last two years, you know that I am a stickler for overall color accuracy, and that means the accuracy of the color decoding, grayscale tracking and the primary and secondary colors all combined. On the Sony, color decoding is dead on, and grayscale tracking is excellent. The biggest single improvement over Sony’s VPL-VW100 from last year and the original Qualia 004 comes with the Color Space setting to Normal that gives us accurate primary and secondary colors. Although they are not exactly perfect, in my opinion they are so close to the HDTV standard that I don’t think any improvement is necessary, as it is extremely unlikely that anyone, even a seasoned pro, would be able to see the difference.
White field uniformity, a known performance issue with all LCD and LCoS-based displays, looked to be reasonably good for an LCD-based projector. The scene in the beginning of Chapter 5 of the Blu-ray version of The Italian Job (Paramount Home Entertainment), where they are celebrating in the snow-capped Austrian Alps, is an excellent test for this. The snow had some color splotches in it. Actually, some red blotches were visible in the upper right side of the picture. Other movies where this might be apparent would include Ice Age and Vertical Limit, both of which have a lot of bright white material. The lens on the VPL-VW200, made by Carl Zeiss, is also a step up from the VPL-VW100, and panel alignment is far superior.
I did find that the resolution is slightly rolled-off, which is an issue I see with most front projectors. It is not a major issue, as it is only a slight loss on the 200, due to the internal scaling. Amplitude is down slightly at the edge of a resolution test pattern for 1080i and 1080p at the HDMI inputs. The same thing was visible on the excellent HD DVD version of Silicon Optix HQV test disc for 1080i de-interlacing and film resolution.
With the iris set to off, I got a reasonably bright image on my 80-inch-wide Stewart Grayhawk RS screen. I measured 13 foot-lamberts, which is just slightly above 12, the reference for projected film in a movie theater. I couldn’t get more then that with the iris off without losing detail in the picture. I must say the 400-watt Xenon lamp in the projector is not capable of as much light output as I would’ve expected. The Auto iris modes will give you a little more light output, but you don’t want to use any of them, as both black level and white level changes depending on how bright or dark the picture elements are.
As you might expect, Blu-ray and HD DVD discs both looked excellent on the VPL-VW200 projector. Both Chapters Four and Five of the excellent transfer of The Italian Job on Blu-ray looked awesome, with excellent color saturation, and the overall accuracy of color was exceptional. To test the Motionflow 120Hz video processing feature, I repeatedly played back the beginning of Chapter 5. Motionflow, whether high or low, definitely made motion look strange, almost as though you were behind the camera instead of watching the film. Also, substantial artifacts were introduced around Mark Wahlberg’s head when Motionflow was engaged. In the opening diner scene of The Departed (Warner Home Video), the motion looks very odd, especially the pan from right to left down the counter. These two scenes were enough for me to realize this was just another over-hyped video feature that is best left off.
Next, I checked the Blu-ray version of Casino Royale (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) to test black-level performance on the projector. Chapter Seven, where Bond is chasing the bad guy on the tarmac of Miami International Airport, has a lot of visible shadow detail in the dark parts of the picture. The VPL-VW200 delivered all of this detail with aplomb. Blacks were deep rich and inky on the 200, and there was little or no visible low-level noise.