Sony VPL-VW90ES Projector Review

This year we have to rethink projector screens. All of a sudden, we’re dabbling with 3D, and different screens will work better than others, when watching. Finding the right screen for both your 2D and 3D viewing means compromising, or not.

VW90ES Projector Screen Recommendations

2D is easy. 3D is a whole different story. Sadly I have no answers yet regarding the right screen for 3D performance.

The VPL-90ES projector has very good black levels, so a high contrast gray screen isn’t needed to lower black levels further. That’s good, because to do best with this projector, you will need a bright screen. That means a narrower viewing area, where the image is bright and looks best. It also would not be as evenly bright from center to corner compared to a screen with only modest gain.

This is one reason I can’t provide better guidance: I don’t have and haven’t used a high power screen in many years. I am arranging for one, as I write this (3/11). I will update the site with screen info about 3D screens as I learn more.

I’ve considered high power screens, which I take to be screens with more than 2x gain, a necessary evil for others, although there are plenty who swear by them. I may have to reassess my opinion. Still, I’d rather see brighter projectors, than significantly compromise evenness of illumination.

Back to the VW90ES, 2D:

The VPL-VW90ES effortlessly fills my 106″ Carada Brilliant White, with 1.4 gain. It can go a geat deal larger if you are strictly watching in the dark, to perhaps 133 inch diagonal, with screens of this gain. You can’t go as large if your walls, ceiling are all light colored.

3D:

A good rule of thumb, I’m told, for projectors using 3D active glasses, is that something like 17 to 25% of the light is getting to your eyeballs. Give it the benefit of doubt, and use 25%, and this projector should seem about as bright as a 190 lumen projector.

This is where high power screens come in. A 2.5 gain screen would provide an image almost twice as bright as the Carada screen, let’s say about 350 lumens. Now we’re talking! 350 lumens is plenty for a movie on a 100″ screen.

So, it would seem that a high gain screen is one way to make 3D a better, brighter experience. The downside of course, is when watching 2D – when you don’t need the high gain, you suffer the narrower viewing area, and less even illumination (relatively dark toward the corners).

I should note, that for the active shutter technology. different technologies (ie. LCoS vs. single chip DLP will behave differently depending on the polarization retention of the screen’s design. That may be why we find the Sony to look as bright as the Sharp, which measures noticeably brighter.

There maybe some compromise in there – a screen that’s optimized for 3D, with a gain around 2 or a little less. Now I have to find out if such exists.

One other solution is to do what I am doing in my primary theater, and that’s to have two screens. A Stewart 3D Silver Screen (100″ 16:9), will be wall mounted. A motorized Studiotek 130 can lower right in front of the other screen. I’m not suggesting these particular screens, in fact, a high gain screen would probably be the 2nd screen, instead of the 3D Silver Screen. That screen is primarily optimized for systems using passive glasses, where the screen technology in use is even more important.

For most of us, it may be best to buy for the 2D, or maybe compromise just a little toward a 3D solution. Good luck.

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