Sony VPL-VW90ES Projector Review

We look at how the VPL-VW90ES – how compares to other competing 1080p home theater projectors, including other 3D projectors on the market?

VPL-VW90ES vs. Sony VPL-VWPro1

This is easy. With a $7000 spread between these two projectors, they aren’t exactly competitors. The lower cost Pro1 has a big advantage in brightness, while the VW90ES has the advantage in black level performance.

And, of course the VW90ES is fully 3D capable. It also has motorized zoom, focus and lens shift compared to manual.

Of course, both are Sony SXRD (LCoS), and in fact, very similar projectors. The more expensive projector really will look noticeably better on the really dark scenes.

If you aren’t ready to bite the bullet on a pricey 3D projector yet, but are sorely tempted by the VW-VW90ES, then the VWPro1, might make one fine, far less expensive projector to hold you until the 2D / 3D projector arrives that wins your heart and wallet.

Sony VPL-VW90ES vs. Sharp XV-Z17000

If 3D is on you must buy list over the next few months, and you are committed to a serious 1080p projector, then this face off, is a critical one. It’s really about determining what makes a $10K Sony 3D (and 2D) projector worth $5000 more than a $5000 Sharp 3D projector (and 2D).

When you consider their roots – the VW90ES comes from a series of a high end (by our standards) projectors with an excellent natural image, and the Sharp, from a very nicely affordable $2000 single chip DLP projector.

I was surprised that, although the Sharp measured brighter, it really didn’t look it when they were playing 3D side by side (I could only watch one in 3D at a time.) It might be the glasses, the different technologies – 3 chip LCoS vs. single chip DLP projector designs, and how they interact with the particular screens I use.

That may mean that paired with the right type of screen, the Sharp may well ulitmately be the brighter projector in 3D, but I have to go on what I’ve got here and see. As the other three screens arrive hopefully I can provide more info on that.

As 2D projectors, there’s no real comparison, the Sharp is a really nice projector, but it’s black levels though good, are definitely not up to the Sony’s. That’s a big difference right there.

Certainly the Sony is loaded for bear, by comparison to the Sharp, power zoom, focus, and lens shift with a 1.6:1 zoom for very good placement. The Sharp is a 1.15:1 (marginal) manual zoom with no lens shift.

The Sony offers professional calibration controls and as many, probably as any other projector under $10K.

The Sharp is a basic projector with a lot of performance. The Sony is a high end model, doing it better, but, if I couldn’t comfortably afford the Sony, I really wouldn’t have a problem, with the XV-Z17000 to feed my 3D requirement. For 2D, folks the Sony is a thousands of dollars better projector, and it looks a little better on 3D as well, but the Sharp holds up exceptionally well.

By the way, Sharp gives you a 3 year warranty compared to Sony’s 2 years.

Sony VPL-VW90ES vs. JVC DLA-RS60 and DLA-RS50

For those not following my blog, JVC’s flagship projector, their 2D and 3D DLA-RS60, arrived about two weeks before this Sony. We had great expectations, not only 3D but 1300 lumens claimed. As you have been reading, throughout this review, 3D eats up a good 2/3 to 3/4 of brightness (when using this type of design – using active shutter glasses).

If the Sony’s 1000 lumen claim had me very concerned about sufficient brightness for 3D, then the thought of 1300 lumens made me a little happier (true happiness, I’m pretty sure, starts north of (higher than) 2000 lumens, for me and 3D).

Here’s what happened though. Mike calibrated the DLA-RS60 when it arrived, and while the picture quality turns out to be beautiful, we were shocked at the brightness. We measure at the mid-point of the zoom, so our numbers are going to be about 10% lower than at full wide angle. Even so, the best we could get out of the DLA-RS60 was just over 500 lumens. Post calibration, best mode measured only 451.

In other words, the measurements for this projector are coming in lower than last year’s projectors that only claimed 900 lumens.

Despite the final picture quality we assumed a problem, contacted JVC and sent it back. And so we wait, it’s been almost a month, as I write this. Of equal concern, I’ve received emails from a few owners of RS50 and RS60′s and they are telling me their units, and others, reporting on the forums, are also reporting low output. Whether this is just some units, or all of them we haven’t been able to determine. I should note that several have measured in the 600 lumen range, we never saw this one get that high.

Based on no explanation yet from JVC (I will update when I know more), and some of what I’m hearing, I will base this comparison on the low brightness. If it turns out to be a problem that gets fixed, great, if not, here’s how they stack up.

Overall picture quality 2D. I slightly favor the JVC. It delivers blacker blacks and does so without a dynamic iris. The JVC also is a bit more flexible in terms of setup with a 2:1 zoom instead of a 1.6:1, and more lens shift. The RS50 is $2000 less and the RS60, $2000 more than the Sony. The 50 and 60 are the same projector, with the 60 simply getting the best components (it does make a difference – read about the RS35 and RS25 last year.) They all have smooth motion (CFI), other dynamic features, and are direct competitors. The Sony has feature’s like pixel alignment in 9 zones, vs basic pixel alignment on the JVCs.

I’m a JVC owner, and biased. If these were just 2D projectors, I’d likely want the RS60, but buy the RS50. I’d give the Sony serious consideration, even for doing 2D, due to the brightness.

However, I’m into 3D, and my next projector will be 3D capable. So how does a 2 time JVC owner choose? If these JVC’s can’t get their brightness up, then if I’m choosing between these three, it looks like I’d be getting my first Sony projector.

All three come with 2 year parts and labor warranties.

Sony VPL-VW90ES vs. Runco LS-10d and LS-10i

Well, actually 3 excellent projectors (counting the LS-10i as a separate model), but only a couple of key differences.

The first thing is that the Runco projectors are at least twice the price of the $9995 Sony. Spending 2 to almost 3 times the price of the VW90ES will scare off most folks from the Runcos, just due to budget.

Ultimately, these projectors all have excellent color, with any differences being most likely determined by the different technologies (LCoS vs. 3 chip DLP), and the dramatically different brightness.

Black level performance of all of these is very good, and, I’d venture to say, roughly equal to each other. And perhaps most significantly, all a bit lower performance (bit lighter “blacks”) than the JVC RS60, which simply has the best blacks around. Still, at the point where you achieve black levels like the Runco LS-10d or the VPL-VW90ES, and you will be pretty pleased. You’ve got black levels that are good enough, that other factors, such as brightness, sharpness, and special features, are equally important, or more. The brightness of the LS10d might be all the rationale one needs to drop an extra $15,000 plus. Or, the 3D abilities of the Sony may be the chief reason someone with plenty of cash chooses the Sony over the Runco.

Simply stated, the Runco 3 chip DLP projectors are light canons. They are dramatically brighter than the Sony. This allows bigger screens, more ambient light, more fun when viewing sports with friends, etc.

The Sony’s image quality is pretty refined. The Runco. even better. The Runco also produces the sharper image of the two. Most importantly, for most folks who buy Runco projectors, is Runco’s rep, especially for pre and post sales support. Part of that is their trained (required) authorized installing dealer base. The few folks I know with Runcos, or their until recently alternate brand, Vidikron, are primarily pleased because they want a top quality, no hassel experience. With the Sony, there are good dealers, and even local installing ones, and one or two may even also be Runco dealers. Still, the local support advantage has to be for Runco.

Beyond that, the Runco picture is bright and gorgeous. The Sony is a great alternative, if you don’t need the brightness, are more of a DIY type (you don’t have to be), and want to play with 3D. But, other than differing features, let’s say that you get an excellent projector for 2D or 3D, for under $10K, with Sony. With Runco, you just get more projector, more support, and no 3D. Choose wisely!

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