Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB vs. Sony VPL-VW40

This comparison is between two really excellent, and reasonably affordable (both selling for under $3000), 1080p home theater projectors. While I have my favorite, the Epson, many may decide differently and choose the Sony.

Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB vs. Sony VPL-VW40

When it comes to the physical attributes of these two projectors, they are extremely similar. Both have very flexible zoom lenses (actually, the Sony offers 1.8:1 while the Epson is 2.1:1, but that’s not a huge difference). Note, though that the Sony’s lens, overall, is slightly shorter throw, so it definitely cannot be as far back as the Epson can get.

So far, that gives the advantage, although not great, to the Epson, but the Sony does have one advantage as well. Its zoom, focus, and vertical lens shift are motorized, while the Epson is manual. That’s also not a big difference, but it sure makes it a lot easier to get the best possible focus when you are able to stand 2 feet from the screen, rather than back by the projector.

The Basics: What is similar about these two home theater projectors - features?

When it comes to the physical attributes of these two projectors, they are extremely similar. Both have very flexible zoom lenses (actually, the Sony offers 1.8:1 while the Epson is 2.1:1, but that’s not a huge difference). Note, though that the Sony’s lens, overall, is slightly shorter throw, so it definitely cannot be as far back as the Epson can get.

If you are shelf mounting, the Epson almost certainly will work, unless your room is very, very deep. The Sony, though, may not quite be able to get as far back in some more “normal” rooms. Both have vertical lens shift, as well, combining for easy placement, although the Epson again, has a bit more range.

When it comes to horizontal lens shift, the Epson has the usual significant amount typical of projectors with horizontal lens shift. The Sony, does have horizontal lens shift, but its very minimal, there for people with minor mounting problems. To use the horizontal lens shift, it has to be manually adjusted, by first removing the lens trim ring.

So far, that gives the advantage, although not great, to the Epson, but the Sony does have one advantage as well. Its zoom, focus, and vertical lens shift are motorized, while the Epson is manual. That’s also not a big difference, but it sure makes it a lot easier to get the best possible focus when you are able to stand 2 feet from the screen, rather than back by the projector.

Above: Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB (left) Sony VPL-VW40 (right), not to scale, the Sony is much larger, with the two similar in width, and the Sony taller, and much deeper.

Both have two HDMI inputs, and both support HDMI 1.3. Of the two, however, only the Epson supports Deep Color, an new feature, that requires HDMI 1.3, but having 1.3 doesn’t assure a projector supports Deep Color. In that sense, the Epson is more “future proof”, than the VW40. Both support 1080p 24fps, a definite major feature.

Both the Sony VPL-VW40 and Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB lack built in support (vertical stretch aspect ratio) for using a 3rd party anamorphic lens, for the very small percentage of people conisering that option. With an anamorphic lens, you can watch movies, without the black bars at top and bottom, but you need to own the proper screen – with 2.35:1 aspect ratio, instead of the usual 16×9 screen (1.78:1 aspect ratio).

That doesn’t stop Epson, however, from selling an anamorphic lens as an option. Just keep in mind that you’ll need a separate outboard processor box to make it all work, and those run $1000 to $3000+. (Anamorphic lenses are typically also $3000 plus, however there are some lower cost alternatives for the DIY crowd). Bottom line, deciding to go Cinemascope (2.35:1) with an anamorphic lens, is never a low cost option. That’s especially true for those who have to change out their screens, in addition to buying the lens, and possibly an outboard processor box, depending on the projector.

Sony also can accomodate an anamorphic lens if you buy an outboard processor, but considering the price difference between the VW40 and the more expensive VW60, which does support anamorphic lenses, most will buy the more expensive VW60 and save money by not needing the processor.

Both Sony and Epson three panel devices, with the Epson being 3LCD, and the Sony, being three LCoS panels (which they call SXRD panels, just as JVC calls theirs D-iLA).

The Sony’s remote is pretty good but not great. I definitely favor the Epson remote control.

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