Sony VPL-VWPRO1 Projector Review

The Sony VPL-PRO1 screen image photos below are from either Blu-ray or HDTV, Note, if comparing images with older Sony projectors, the PRO1 images from Lord of the Rings are from the Blu-ray version. Older Sony’s were reviewed with the standard DVD version, prior to Blu-ray release. These Sony VPL-PRO1 projector images come to you, through a dSLR camera, software, browsers, and even your monitor, all with their own color inaccuracies. there are definite color shifts, saturation differences, etc. The images of the Sony VPL-VWPRO1 are provided to support the commentary, but keep in mind the limitations when trying to compare images from the VPL-PRO1 with other home theater projectors. Take them all, “with a grain of salt”

In reality, all projectors, including the VPL-PRO1, always look better live, than the images in our reviews – ask anyone who already owns a home theater projector!

VPL-VWPRO1 Out of the Box Picture Quality

Whoa, out of the box performance for the VWPRO1 is dissapointing, but you can easily make it much better. Not sure why Sony did what they did, with the default Cinema settings, but the color temp for Cinema at default, averages almost 9000K across the range, when 6500K is ideal. That’s a huge shift towards blue, and very, very, thin reds.

To quote Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: “Don’t Panic” Even if you don’t intend to calibrate or really fool with settings, just changing one single setting makes a world of improvement, catapaulting the out of the box quality from so-so, to very good.

All you need to do, is change the Color Temp from its default of Custom 2, to Low. Dropping it to Low Color Temp, reduces the average color temp across the range, down to about 7200K. That’s still a bit cool, but has to be considered at least as good as most other projectors, overall, in terms of general out of the box performance.

Check out our recommended settings for items like Brightness, Color, etc. on the Calibration page of this review.

VPL-VWPRO1 Projector - Flesh Tones

After calibration, skin tones were excellent, and, while not the very best I’ve seen, certainly better than most, including almost all other home theater projectors selling for under $3000. To calibrate the projector we started with the Sony’s Cinema mode, which is the same as the default User 3. We placed our new calibrated settings into User 3, for all images taken in “best” mode.

Above and below are images from the Blu-ray release of Lord of the Rings, and skin tones of both Gandalf and Arwen appear very natural. The blue caste you see in the walls above, accurately reflect what I saw on the screen (except, the image above is more staturated looking).

Below, Arwen looks rather pale. This is pretty correct. The scene is in a forest, and it lends a slight green caste to the image, which gives it that pale look. You might even notice, that it’s a bit more pale around her forehead, than lower on her face – as it was on the screen.

Below are our usual images of Daniel Craig, as Bond, in Casino Royale. These were taken under different lighting conditions (on the set, not my theater). As I always point out, skin tones should look different under different lighting conditions. You can expect significantly different looking skin tones, when switching from bright sunlight, to nighttime, fluorescent lighting, incandescent lighting, or even lighting in the shade, or a cloudy day. Consider these three images, the first, in direct sunlight, the second is a scene with fluorescent lighting, and the third, a sunny day, but Bond is sitting in the shade – indirect lighting.

I have one more image of Bond, at night, which you will see below. Immediately below are some additional images we typically use in reviews, that should give you a good feel for overall skin tone handling:

The next three images are from the older HW15, and will be replaced when the second batch of images are ready, over Christmas weekend.

From The Dark Knight:
Men In Black:
and finally one from Quantum of Solace (Bond) – looks good here, but even better on the screen:

VPL-VWPRO1 Comparsion

Epson 8700UB
JVC RS20

VPL-VWPRO1 Black Levels & Shadow Detail

Originally when the Sony review was published, right before Christmas 2010, discerning the the black level performance was not possible. I had only 4 days, and never got to do any side by side viewing. Now, a couple weeks later, I’ve viewed the Sony VPL-VWPRO1 side by side against the Epson 8700UB and the JVC RS20. Side by side pictures were taken against the Epson, with a couple shown below.

Understand, this Sony PRO1, or it may be known as the HW20a in other parts of the world, was the first projector reviewed in our new “facility”. The testing room has the same Carada screen as before, but the walls are far darker, affecting black level performance. At first I thought I was seeing a significant improvement over last year’s HW15, but, alas, after more viewing, it turned out to be more wishful thinking.

That’s not to say that blacks haven’t been improved incrementally. They are a bit better than the Sony projector it replaces, but the differences are slight. That’s in line with the trend this year. Blacks mostly have been only slightly improved on a lot of projectors with inherently very good to excellent black performance.

We still have here, an ultra high contrast projector – very, very, good blacks, but it still comes off in the middel of the pack – more in line with, say the Panasonic PT-AE4000 or Sanyo PLV-Z4000, than, the even better Epson 8700UB and 9700UB projectors.

The Sony is no match at all, compared to the JVC RS20, though the Epson is probably a little closer to the Sony’s performance level than the JVC’s downright amazing blacks.

Immediately below, from Space Cowboys, and below it, same image, from the HW15:

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