Sony VPL-VW50 “Pearl” 1080p Home Theater Projector Review: Overview

Sony VW50 vs. Mitsubishi HC5000

The Mitsubishi is sharp. I like that. At very close seating pixel structure may be barely visible on the usual – screen credits, large stationary white or near white areas, etc. For those who demand “razor-sharp” you’ll probably prefer the Mitsubishi HC5000, but I have to give the edge in the naturalness of the picture to the Sony. When it comes to brightness, overall, these two are pretty much a tie, and since their respective zoom lenses have pretty much the same placement range (the Mitsusbishi is 1.6:1 vs 1.8:1 for the Sony), they both, at closest, sit the same distance from the screen, and the Sony can sit a little further back (a foot or so.) As a result, brightness really is an effective tie.

So, if you like a bit more “pop” or wow, lean toward the Mitsubishi HC5000. If you just want “smooth and natural”, the Sony has it, not as eye-popping, but great to watch.

Sony VW50 vs. BenQ W10000 and Optoma HD81

Both of these projectors are similar in overall performance, but very different in setup ergonomics.

To start, the BenQ can out muscle the Sony. It’s very limited zoom lens provides essentially the same brightness regardless of position (wide or tele). Overall, the Sony might be able to muster a couple of more lumens in full wide angle, but after that – it’s all BenQ. If the Sony is in full telephoto, the BenQ is almost twice as bright. The Optoma, when reviewed, was even brighter in best mode, but really doesn’t have an optimized bright mode for cutting through ambient light. Unfortunately, I never got around to creating a Dynamic mode for it, but it shoujld be able to do a decent image around 1200 lumens or so.

The Sony has it all over these two in placement, starting with the zoom. The BenQ’s vertical lens shift range is almost identical to the Sony, but the Optoma has no adjustable lens shift. It does have a lot of lens offset though, so it might be preferred in a high ceiling environment – it won’t have to hang down as far.

In terms of inputs, the Sony has two HDMI’s giving it a small edge on the BenQ, but the Optoma is in a whole separate league, with far more capability than either. Optoma uses that Gennum powered external processing box, that sits with your other equipment, and only two cables run to the projector. Both have excellent picture quality, but tend to be a bit more contrasty looking than the Sony. Both are setup for ISF calibration, and if you go get them fully calibrated they should rival the Sony in natural look.

Sony VW-50 vs. JVC RS-1 (Best Guess)

Well, they are both LCOS (JVC = D-ILA, Sony = SXRD tradenames) both are large units although the JVC is definitely larger. The JVC has looked great (like the Sony) everytime I’ve seen it at a show. The interesting thing is that JVC is claiming the same amazing high contrast as the Sony, but without the use of an iris. (hmmm.) JVC only provides one brightness stat, at D65 for movie watching (“best mode”). Their claim is 700 lumens. If they meet that claim then the JVC is going to be a step up in brightness (even in full wide angle the Sony won’t hit 600 lumens). We shall see. Also the JVC when I have seen it (but never side by side) to me seems a touch sharper. We’ll find out soon enough, the JVC should be arriving within the week.

Sony VW-50 vs Epson Cinema 1080p (More conjecture)

The Epson is another LCD projector, thus potentially slightly visible pixels at closest seating on the bright areas… The Epson is likely to be the brightest of the field, most Epson home theater projectors tend to be. Only the current brightness champ the 720 Panasonic PT-AX100U is brighter than Epson’s Cinema 400 and Cinema 810.

So the Epson may be the play for those wanting large screens or dealing with too much ambient light. The Cinema 1080p is also $5000 ($4995) US. Due to the nature of how Epson distributes in the US (mostly local dealers), the Epson likely will sell for a few hundred more. It does have the best 2 year warranty in town, because of its 2 year replacement program.

That about covers it. Let’s look at the specifics now.

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