Sony VPL-HW10 Projector Review

VPL-HW10 vs. Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB

The HW10, considering it’s street price around $3000, is more expensive than the current closeout price of the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB. That Epson gets replaced this month, by the Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB. The older Epson was our best in class winner, in this past year’s 1080p home theater projector comparison report.

The Sony is definitely the quieter projector of the two. They are pretty much equal in terms of image sharpness, although the Epson tends to display a touch more softness in the corners when both are the most focused in the center. The Epson is selling for significantly less right now, as it is being phased out.

Both exhibit excellent black level performance, although the Sony has a slight edge in revealing shadow details. Both projectors provide a dynamic looking image (pop and wow), but I’ll give the Sony the slight advantage in producing a more natural looking image.

The Epson has more placement flexibility in terms of zoom lens range, and lens shift, although the Sony’s range is still very good. The Epson, of note, can be placed significantly further back, making it more likely that it will work in your room, in a rear shelf mounting situation. The Sony, which can only be about 16 feet back from a 100 inch diagonal screen, may have to sit too close to the screen, to work in the back of a longer room, or one with a smaller screen.

Both have two year warranties, but the Sony’s warranty is pretty standard, while the Epson includes an overnight replacement program for both years.

Perhaps the biggest difference is brightness. While the Sony is significantly brighter in “best” mode (about 70%), the Epson has roughly double the brightness of the Sony, in brightest mode. For movie only watchers, that gives the Sony a real advantage, while those who have to deal with ambient light at times, and also like to watch HDTV/Sports, will prefer the extra horsepower the Epson provides. (The Epson has multiple ciniema modes, and one is a step up in brightness (although not quite as good) as the Theatre Black 1 mode we use as the Epson’s Best mode.

There are definite trade-offs between these two, but one is likely to work better for your situation, than the other. And it’s just as likely that the other one will work better for the next person.

 

Sony VPL-HW10 vs. Mitsubishi HC7000

Let’s start with the pricing difference. From a street price standpoint, the Sony is less money, thanks to being available online. Whether that holds true if you buy the Sony from a local dealer, is hard to say.

In this case I have a preference. If you are not going the larger screen route, I favor theHC7000 slightly over the Sony. The HC7000 has a visibly sharper image, it’s even quieter, has black levels at least as good, and I’d give it the edge in just looking “right”, as it has a very film-like image. The Mitsubishi left me more impressed after extended watching, then the Sony did.

Both projectors are in the same range of brightness in brightest mode, but the Sony is almost twice as bright, in best mode. Once again, your room setup, and what you like to view will be a critical deciding factor. If you are really movies only (and/or everything else in an equally dark room), then the Sony has the lumen advantage, but otherwise, the more expensive (likely) HC7000, is the one I favor slightly. Both have 1.6:1 zoom lenses, with almost identical throw ranges.

Sony VPL-HW10 vs. Sanyo PLV-Z3000

The Sanyo PLV-Z3000 projector for review just arrived. Having viewed it for only a couple of hours, I’m not prepared to offer an accurate comparision. Instead look for the comparision in the Sanyo PLV-Z3000′s competitors section, when it publishes later this week. In short, however, the Sanyo is less bright in best mode, and brighter in brightest (a real surprise). The Z3000 has the edge in terms of sharpness

The PLV-Z3000 offers more placement flexibility in terms of both lens shift and zoom range, and comes with an extra year warranty. All that and the Sanyo sells for less than the Sony VPL-HW10.

Sony VPL-HW10 vs. Panasonic PT-AE3000

Overall, the Panasonic is an excellent 1080p projector, especially considering it’s $2500 price point. The Sony most likely will cost you at least a few hundred dollars more.

Both are about equally sharp in terms of image (perhaps a “not enough to matter” advantage to the Sony). Both are quiet. Both are medium sized projectors although the Sony is the larger of the two. Certainly, the Sony is the better looking box.

Black level performance favors the Sony, as seen in the comparison images in the image section. Still, both projectors are pretty comparable. The Sony can, on the right type of scenes – those that are all prety dark, produce blacker blacks. Shadow detail is comparable, with, perhaps a slight advantage to the Panasonic.

The Sony projector though, does look more dynamic on those dark scenes, which I feel does add something to the viewing experience.

When it comes to key features, the differences favor the Panasonic, as the Sony lacks these:
96/120fps support with creative frame interpolation for smooth fast moving scenes and pans.
Support for a 2.35:1 Cinemascope shaped screen, without needing an anamorphic lens (the Sony has no support for an anamorphic lens. Tthe Panasonic can either use an anamorphic lens, or emulate one!

In addition, the PT-AE3000 offers more placement flexibility, in terms of the range of its zoom lens, and in the amount of lens shift

Both projectors support standard 24fps and Deep Color.

From a practical standpoint, the Panasonic is an easier choice. It’s better out of the box, adjusts more easily, and has more cool, and practical features. The Sony is more work, for sure, but can best the Panasonic in subtle ways. The Sony may be brighter in movie mode, but the Panasonic can muster up a brighter image when you need it.

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