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Sony VPL VW50 "Pearl" SXRD Video Projector Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 March 2007
Article Index
Sony VPL VW50 "Pearl" SXRD Video Projector
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The Downside
While I think the Sony Pearl is nothing short of a marvel in terms of performance, there were a few areas, mainly in ergonomics, that keep it from being the absolute best component ever sold to the world of home theater. For starters, the lack of any sort of manual lens adjustment is a major omission, compared to other projectors in the Sony’s class both above and below its price point. Lacking the ability to focus the projector is beyond a pain in the butt when setting it up. If your system engineers have everything mapped out perfectly for your installation, then maybe it’s no big deal, but I think we all live more in the real world than a perfect world. Focus and other screen adjustments are many times quite helpful.

Next is the issue of fan noise. The Pearl is quieter than my old Panasonic LCD projector, but it is by no means silent. Those mounting or placing the Pearl in open view need to be aware that the projector will emit a slight whirring noise that is audible during quiet passages. If you can swing it, I would recommend a hush box of some sort to combat the issue.

Like all HD displays these days, the issue of standard definition keeps coming up and the Pearl is not exempt from this issue at all. While the Pearl is simply stunning with HD material and rather impressive even with DVD, it can’t turn water into wine and standard-definition material often looks average compared to the outrageously good video you see from DVD, HDTV broadcasts and 1080p HD disc formats such as Blu-ray. There are a few work-arounds: the easiest, perhaps, is watching only HD content, but this is not necessarily practical. I would suggest adding an external scaler, such as DVDO’s VP50, to aide in spicing up less than stellar standard-definition programming.

The gauntlet has been thrown down, the line drawn in the sand, and there is no turning back. The Sony Pearl is all that and more and I’m here to say to the competition, you’ve been warned. While I like Sony’s code name of choice (Pearl), I feel perhaps, a new name might be in order. I would be so bold as to call it “The Bar,” for it is. The Pearl is the new benchmark for its price point and beyond. It is the best projector real money can buy, and while I don’t want to get into the habit of proverbially calling the Super Bowl in week one, I will say that I’m confident I’ve just spent time with’s 2007 product of the year. How confident am I that this projector is an incredible value? I bought one.

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