Four Home Theater Projector Comparison

We have here two very different home theater projectors. First of all, the HD91 is a single chip DLP projector, while the VPL-HW40ES projector is a three panel LCoS design. Both are 3D capable.

The Sony is exceptionally bright, a proverbial light canon, while the Optoma HD91 is one of the least bright that we have reviewed in the past year.  (Still, it’s calibrated brightness was typical of projector just a few years ago, pre 3D.)

Please remember brightness is important when you need it. There have been a number of great, but not overly bright projectors that we’ve reviewed over the years. If you want a really large-screen, one of them probably isn’t for you. On the other hand, if you are planning on a 100 inch screen or smaller, such projectors can definitely hold their own.

Let’s get started:

Brightness

Since I mentioned brightness, let’s deal with that first.  At mid-point on the zoom lens, the Sony offers 1500 lm calibrated!  By comparison, the HD91 has what is still a very respectable 550 lumens calibrated, even if its less than 40% of the Sony’s massive calibrated output.

Of course when you need maximum brightness, the Sony only has an extra couple hundred lumens under the hood, While the Optoma jumps to almost 1000 lm. Bottom-line, when you need maximum brightness the Sony still wins but it’s a closer contest.

In the accompanying video, and some stills found here, we show the two projectors in some cases with their images being the same size, While at other times, I have reduced the size of the Optoma, so the two projectors are similar in brightness.

I consider the HD91 suitable for dedicated theaters and caves – with very good lighting control.  The Sony, by comparison is extremely versatile, with the ability to tackle a wide variety of room conditions.

 

Click Image to Enlarge

Color Handling and Calibration

When it comes to color handling, the Sony, right out of the box, is gorgeous, and really does not need to be further calibrated.  The Optoma HD91 is the opposite!  Not one preset color mode is even good looking.  But it does calibrate reasonably well, and can produce very good color!

In the above images, the Optoma comes first and the Sony comes second. Note the color differences.

Black Level Performance

As you can see in the video clip, where we compare the two projectors for black level performance, the HD91 has it’s Dynamic Black lamp dimming (instead of a dynamic iris) on the middle setting, but still can’t match the blacks of the Sony HW40ES, even though the Sony has no dynamic iris.  To make matters worse for the HD91, the lamp dimming is often slow and visible.

Watch the comparison!

Check out this video, and also these side-by-side comparison images (below).  The video has its own audio so otherwise isn’t further discussed here.

For our subscribers only: We also have more videos for you exclusively, located here, that show how these two projectors compare in terms of black level performance, shadow detail, color, and brightness.

EXTRA: Subscriber-Only Videos!

We have 3 additional subscriber-only videos comparing these two projectors. The video clips have their own commentary, with additional thoughts about black levels, color, brightness, etc.

If you’re a subscriber, you can view them HERE or simply move forward 2 pages through either the drop-down navigation at the top of the page, or by clicking the “NEXT” button at the bottom of the page.

Side by side images, the HD91 is on the left in all of these:

  1. Bond Plane scene, comparative brightness, and color – calibrated
  2. Bond Train (B/W) Dynamic black ON (highest setting)
  3. Bond Train (B/W)  Dynamic black OFF
  4. The Fifth Element Priest – sized for similar brightness

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News And Comments

  • John OC

    Awesome article! Will definitely start focusing on the specifics not that I have read over it once.

    It would be nice if you guys offered a drop down list to let readers select which section of the article they want to read. Clicking through all the pages to get to something is pretty tedious at times.