Sony VPL-VW60 Home Theater Projector Review: Overview and Physical Attributes
VW60 SDE and Rainbow Effect, Pixel Visibility
THE VW60 is a 3 chip LCos projector (liquid crystal on silicon), which Sony brands as SXRD. LCos projectors have pixel structures (visibility of the pixels themselves) far less noticeable than standard LCD and DLP projectors. On a 100″ screen, you’ll have to get around 3 feet away before pixels are easily visible. As such, there are no Screen Door Effect issues, or even basic pixel visibility at anything considered normal seating distance.
Rainbow Effect is also not an issue. Since this is a three chip device, not a single chip like most DLP projectors, there’s no spinning color wheel to create the color strobing effect called the rainbow effect.
Bottom line. No issues at all with screen door effect or rainbow effect!
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VW60 Projector Brightness
Generally LCD projectors produce the least brightness in their best modes, with single chip DLP projectors and LCoS projectors like the Sony VPL-VW60, doing better. But, those LCD projectors generally do much better in their brighter modes, DLP projectors and LCoS projectors tend to get less of a boost in their brighter modes, but the DLP’s are often the brightest.
Thus, the measurements of the Sony VW60 are no surprise. Brightness was very good in best mode, cranking out 493 lumens. This drops significantly to 329 lumens in low lamp mode. That’s a 1/3 drop. You can assume that the drop will also be the same 1/3 in all preset modes.
Moving to Standard Mode, which we used for watching HDTV/TV/Sports, brightness (at lamp full power) increases only to 605 lumens.
Dynamic Mode, the Sony’s brightest produced 665 lumens after we reset the color temp to low. Without doing so the image is way too cool (bluish). However, if you need every last lumen, leave the Color Temp at default and you end up with 723 lumens. By comparison, the other LCoS projector, the JVC RS1, musters almost 900 lumens in its brightest mode, and almost 800 lumens in best mode.
The Sony is brighter in best mode than the three recently tested LCD projectors, the Mitsubishi HC6000, Panasonic PT-AE2000U, and the Sanyo PLV-Z2000.
Since it relates to brightness, I should point out that Sony says its lamp is rated at 3000 hours. Unfortunately, they don’t specify whether that is at low lamp mode or high. Checking with Sony, they confirmed that the VW60 is rated 2000 hours (typical for most projectors) for lamp life at high power mode, and 3000 hours (also typical) in low lamp mode.
VW60 Projector - Light Leakage
Nothing to be concerned with. There is definitely a little light coming out the lens below the screen in particular, but I only noticed it rarely, when the screen was black or, for example, with the near black Sony PS3 opening screen is up. A non-issue
VW60 Audible Noise Levels
Very quiet. Sony claims 22 db in low lamp mode. That’s very believable. it is quieter than my JVC RS1, and all of the DLP projectors, and is competitive with the quieter of the LCD models. Overall, excellent.
VW60Projector Screen Recommendations
As you might expect, a projector with excellent black levels really doesn’t need a High Contrast gray surface, to further enhance blacks. And, since the brightness of the projector is only average, you are generally best served by choosing the screen surface that will work best with your rooom conditions and screen size.
If you are a movie fanatic, and aren’t worried about watching assorted TV/HDTV/Sports with some room lighting, then the Sony VW60 is going to be very comfortable on a 110″ screen and you might push out to 120″. If you want to go much larger, though, you’ll need a white surface screen with some serious gain (over 1.5), to help out. That will, of course, cut down on your viewing area.
If, however, you plan a mix of sources, and viewing with some ambient light is important to you, then I’d recommend keeping the screen size to a maximum of 110″, with a white surface with 1.1 to 1.4 gain. If you have some significant ambient light issues, keep the Sony to 100″ or 106″ screens.
I was able to do a lot of viewing in my testing room filling all of the 1.4 claimed gain, Carada Brilliant White surface. Every DVD I looked at looked great, no sense of being short of lumens at all
In my theater (still off-white walls), using the Firehawk – the relatively brightest of all the HC gray screens, I was also very comfortable at 110″ diagonal watching movies at night, with no ambient light issues. Football, on the other hand, during the day, with my shades leaking some ambient light, was just acceptable at that screen size. My JVC, with its extra 30%+ lumens was able to do equally well in its Dynamic mode filling the full 128″ diagonal (as would be expected).
I must add that the Sony looked great on the Firehawk, with the projector showing rich colors and an exceptional feel of depth. And the Firehawk helps out significantly with side ambient lighting issue.
Sony engineers and product managers must like the Firehawk too. Sony got together with Stewart last year to create a special version of the Firehawk, for the Sony, and it’s called the Firehawk SST. Now there isn’t anything really special about the SST relating only to the Sony, rather the SST has slightly lower gain, and works better than the Firehawk G3 (the one I use), if you are placing the projector fairly close to the screen. Stewart recommends the SST instead of the G3, if you are filling a 100″ diagonal screen from 16 feet or less, as it will show less roll-off in the corners. That makes sense, so if you mounting the Sony anywhere so that you have the zoom set for the middle of its range to full wide angle, the SST is the better choice.
This is the caliber of projector that calls for a high quality screen, so I would say spend for a good one.
Of course all major screen manufacturers have white surface screens, but if you do choose a high contrast gray, the Firehawk is the way to go, as it is the brightest (to my knowlegde) of the typical HC gray variety screen.
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