Sony VPL-VW90ES Projector Review

The Very Bottom Line on the VPL-VW90ES projector:

Sony continues to improve it’s home theatre projectors, and the VW90ES is a better replacement than the older VW85. What’s unusual, though is a price increase from one generation to the other. In this case, you get one, but, it would seem that’s the price for 3D. I suspect that, otherwise, the projector would have the same price as last year, be a little brighter and better, and that would be that – typical.

Best I can tell, so far, if you want a projector to do both 2D and 3D, for some serious home theatre, then so far, I’d have to narrow the choices to the lower cost Sharp, or the better image of this Sony. I’ll pass on those JVC’s as 3D projectors, unless they do prove to be significantly brighter than the one JVC shipped me.

When it comes to choosing the VPL-VW90ES strictly for 2D, then there’s more competition in the quality class. The JVC’s, for example, will still have slightly better blacks (and no dynamic iris), but this year, it would seem that Sony is brighter than JVC. That’s a complete reversal from a couple of years ago, when I ranked JVC’s hands down my favorites, for the combination of being brighter than those old Sonys, plus the black advantages (Sony always wins for most controls, for tweaking!)

This time around, as I’ve been saying all along, the Sony VPL-VW90′s blacks are good enough that I start refocusing my attentions on to other aspects of the projector, such as brightness, or 3D, or creative frame interpolation. So, any way I slice it, the VPL-V90ES is a top contender up there around $10,000. In Sony’s perrenial battles with it’s competition in these price ranges, I think this Sony is going to capture more souls (and sales) relative to the competition, than the VPL-VW90ES predecessors have. has in the past.

The Sony is not without flaws. It has exhibited a minor problem with panning at a certain speed, it definitely could be brighter in brightest mode and, even brighter still for 3D.

This Sony VPL-VW90ES is just a classy projector. Excellent picture with great but not the best blacks, better than average brightness for movie watching, power everything, a good feature set including creative frame interpolation, and 3D.

If you are really stretching your budget to the bursting point, to make this Sony your next projector, you may have a tough time selling yourself. On the other hand…

If the VPL-VW90ES is comfortably in your budget, you are almost certainly giving it serious thought, then it seems to me to be a very reasonable value, compared to the competition. I suspect plenty of you shopping in this range will select the VW90ES, for those reasons above. That’s why there’s a Hot Product Award now attached to the Sony VPL-VW90ES projector.

Sony VPL-VW90ES Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities

Sony VPL-VW90ES Projector: Pros

  • Excellent color, and overall picture quality, post calibration
  • Really good black levels, but not the best
  • Above average brightness in “best” movie mode
  • Very good dark shadow detail
  • 2D to 3D conversion – interesting
  • 3D can be played as 2D
  • Dynamic iris action is smooth generally invisible- a real plus
  • Zoom, Focus, Lens shift, are all motorized
  • Wide variety of gamma and color presets
  • Very nice menu layout
  • Very good documentation (a rarity)
  • Excellent remote control, well laid out
  • Very good placement flexibility
  • Does a very good job on 3D, within the limits of overall brightness
  • Fairly quiet projector
  • Very good value proposition

Sony VPL-VW90ES Projector: Cons

  • A more noticable than most amount of stuttering on slow pans of a scene at apparently a certain speed or speed (24 fps content) (only seen on two different scenes so far)
  • Remote control’s range is good, but could be a bit further
  • Black levels not up to the very best in the price range
  • Not priced for the masses (well they do offer the VWPro1)
  • Will look dim on typical 90 inch and larger screens in 3D (you really can compensate with a high power screen)

Sony VPL-VW90ES Projector: Typical Capabilities

  • Lamp life (our guess, since they don’t publish lamp life)
  • Medium large projector
  • Vertical and horizontal lens shift (now pretty much standard at this price point)
  • Dynamic iris
  • Smooth motion (creative frame interpolation)
  • Selection of inputs

I could live with one of these. When not watching 2D, I’d watch tons of 3D content, but I’d still wish for a usable 2000 lumens for 3D.

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