Sony VPL-VW90ES Projector Review

In this section we consider the brightness, sharpness, and image noise of the Sony VPL-VW90ES home theater projector. We’ll discuss brightness in conjunction with 3D usage, as well. Also considered are the physical attributes of light leakage and audible noise.

Sony VPL-VW90ES Brightness

Sony upped the ante, with a 1000 lumen claim, up from 800 on last year’s projector. Unfortuately, we didn’t see anywhere near as big a boost as the 25% increase that jump to 1000 lumens would promise. Still, we did get close to a 100 lumen bump, and that’s noteworthy, even if not a blinding increase.

I consider the VPL-VW90ES “best mode” brightness to be very nicely above average for today’s quality home theater projectors (until you get up into a much more expensive class of projectors, such as the $27,000 Runco LightStyle LS-10.) That means you can enjoy a nice sized screen. Without going to real high gain screens, 130 inches diagonal is perfectly reasonable.

Considering the VW90ES has to deal with 3D, it needs every lumen it can find (as do the other 3D home theater projectors out there).

And it just doesn’t have enough, if you expect to fill that 130″ screen with 3D, and if you are sticking to white screens with typical gains of 1.3 or so, it would seem that even 100 inches diagonal image size is too much to comfortably watch, without feeling the picture is dim. If you want a nice large screen, I suggest just zooming the image out – make it smaller, when watching 3D. It will help! Watchable is good, but dim will get old quickly, and as a projector’s lamp dims, it’s only going to get worse. And so goes early 3D projection.

The Sony VPL-VW90ES projector brightness numbers below were recorded by Mike before and after calibration. They were taken using a full production VW90ES projector.

Lumen Output and Color Temp at 100 IRE (mid zoom):

Dynamic 633 @ 11437
Standard 681 @ 9659
Cinema 1 619 @ 7757
Cinema 2 603 @ 7099
Cinema 3 629 @ 7728
User 629 @ 7743, 753 lumens with Color Temp on Custom 5

With this Sony, with all its presets, color temps and gammas, fortunately the manual does a respectable job of explaining it all. OK, note, above, all modes are about the same brightness, until you change to the bright Custom 5 setting.

Effect of zoom on lumen output (Dynamic mode):

Wide angle (close to screen) 672
Mid-zoom 633
Telephoto 489

Based on our normal mid-point measurement, you will get an additional 6% of brightness if you mount closer so the lens is full wide-angle. Conversely and more notably, backing the projector further from the screen, by mounting further back, the brightness drops 23% from the midpoint. As is usual, the closer you mount, the brighter your image.

The 1162 lumen measurement is the brightest combination of lens position and settings we were able to obtain, and that is almost a perfect 10% below Sony’s 1300 lumen claim. Since the home theater projector that actually beats its claims is rather rare, we consider getting within 10% of claim to be better than most.

Color Temp over IRE Range (Best Mode, Pre calibration):

Cinema 2
30 IRE 7921
50 IRE 7766
80 IRE 7329
100 IRE 7099

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