Sony VPL-VW60 Home Theater Projector Review: Overview and Physical Attributes

The older Sony VW50 is an excellent projector, and of all the 1080p projectors we reviewed from last fall until end of this summer, it offered overall picture quality second only to JVC’s similar DLA-RS1.

The new VW60 is definitely improved. Not drastically so, but I would rate it now, about the equal of the JVC RS1 in overall picture quality (and it costs less), thanks to improved black level performance. Sony claims both improved dynamic iris functionality, and new LCoS (SXRD as Sony calls them) panels, with better native contrast. It still lacks the brightness of the JVC RS1, and the improved RS2 is coming out any day now, but consider; the Sony is as much as $2000 less. Makes things interesting!

The high point of working with the Sony, is its picture quality when watching movies in a fully darkened (or almost so) room. Outstanding!

Be sure to make it down near the bottom of this page to see how the Sony performs on HDTV under modest ambient light.

The out of the box settings for Cinema mode produced very disappointing color performance, and that is especially true of how the Sony handled skin tones, but also just about everything else. The good news is that with a good grayscale calibration, the Sony becomes a superb performer in all areas.

QuickTip: Regarding the images you are about to see. Color issues:
First of all, I always warn in reviews, that my digital cameras cannot begin to capture the full dynamic range of the projected image – the camera will inherently crush near blacks and blow out near whites, losing lots of detail. In addition, the images the camera captured will look differently on my computer screen than on yours, in almost all areas – color itself, saturation, contrast and brightness, to mention a few. As a result, the images are useful in some ways, but not to be taken as faithful reproductions of what the projector put on the screen. (The images even look different on my editing software, my web design software (Dreamweaver), and again, on my browser. when viewing our website.

So, take it all with a grain (or pound) of sand. The images are there to support the review text, not the other way around.

And now, a new problem. I have just switched to a new dSLR, the Olympus E510, and I have been struggling to get the best, most accurate results out of it. So far, results have not been very good. I chose the Olympus for several reasons, including the ability to preset color temperature. Ideally, that would be 6500K, and the Olympus comes very close with choices including 6400K and 6600K (really slight differences).

There is more of an issue though. So far I have been unable to get a neutral grayscale balance, with two things happening: First, there tends to be too much yellow green in the images, and second, the amount tends to vary depending on the relative exposure, so on some images the problem is greater than on others.

For this review, (and until I solve this issue with Olympus), there are three types of images. Those using 6400K or 6600K and unaltered beyond that. Some using those same settings, where I felt compelled to adjust the image in Photoshop, to best compensate, and lastly, something I would have preferred not to do, but probably is providing the best results, and that is abandoning the custom color temperature settings, and letting the camera fix things by using Auto white balance. In the case of the VW60, the final grayscale balance was really excellent, and overall the Auto White balance works best. Let’s just say this:. If you see too much yellow in some images, it’s the camera, because that definitely wasn’t a problem with the projected image.

The Sony VPL-VW60 Home Theater Projector: Skin Tones

Let’s forget out of the box performance, and consider the Sony once grayscale is calibrated for 6500K, which is ideal for movie viewing.

Overall performance on skin tones is excellent. To further improve on what I saw on the screen – which rivals any under $10K projector I have worked with, you’ll need a professional calibrator with more skills than I possess. On the other hand, I seriously doubt if any but the most hard core crazed, will be disappointed, with just an accurate grayscale calibration. For your consideration, first a couple of images from standard DVD – Lord of the Rings, Return of the King:

Some of you have been reading my reviews for quite some time, and remember images from The Fifth Element. Well, I finally got the new remastered Blu-ray version, and it’s definitely superior to the original Blu-ray version (which I never used on this site) and the original standard definition (SD-DVD) disc.

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