Sony VPL-VW90ES Projector Review

Sony VPL-VW90ES Projector Warranty

The Sony VPL-VW90ES projector comes with a two year, parts and labor warranty.

Two year warranties are pretty much the standard for 1080p projectors, with some models offering three and a number of low-cost models, offering only one year.

Three year warranties will be found on some home theatre projectors. Optoma offers three years on some of their more expensive models, Epson on their Pro Cinema series, such as the 9700UB, and Sharp provides 3 years, on their two sub-$2000 home theater projectors, the PLV-Z4000 and the PLV-Z700.

There might even be some one year warranties up around this $10,000 price point, although I can’t think of any, off the top.

Other 1080p home theater projectors with 2 year warranties include all the Mitsubishi projectors, , the Epson Home Cinema series featuring the HC8350 and the HC8700UB (with replacement programs for both years), plus, most of the mid-priced Optomas…

The more commercial 3D projector, though it’s finding its way into home theaters I’m told, – the CF3D by LG, with it’s $15,000 price point, also comes with a 2 year parts and labor warranty.

Bottom line: There are better warranties, and worse ones, but the Sony VPL-VW90ES warranty is pretty much in the middle of the pack, and most typical one for this class of projector.

Sony VPL-VW90ES Projector - The Bottom Line

OK, let’s see what we’ve got here. The Sony VPL-VW90ES is their flagship home theater projector, and their first 1080p projector sporting 3D. It commands a $9999 list price.

That’s a lot of loose change, but the least expensive serious1080p home theater projector with 3D is the Sharp, and that guy’s almost exactly half the price.

“Out of the box” color needs some work, not impressed, but I am impressed with the final picture after Mike did his calibration.

Truly excellent skin tones are obvious. I’d probably be gushing about them, but for the fact that the last projector through – the $27,000 Runco, was even better (perhaps mostly by virtue of more lumens behind the Runco’s color).

My one concern has been the panning issue I spotted. I am finding that the VW90ES does seem a touch worse than some others, but it seems to be panning speed based. After noticing the horizontal panning at the beginning of RED, I looked at some other movies. The Sony’s panning is generally about typical, but on the right speed pan, it does look worse than others. I have queried Sony about this, awaiting reply.

Black level performance is very good. The projector seems roughly comparable now to the Epson UB, which still has the best blacks short of the higher end JVCs. When you achieve that level of black performance, other things become the more critical things to improve. In other words, if you asked me which I would want for this Sony projector, a step up in black performance, or a step up in brightness, in this case, give me the brightness, I can defiinitely live long and prosper, with the Sony VPL-VW90ES’s black level performance.

Sony VPL-VW90ES for 3D

The 3D is cool. Look, from a big picture standpoint, 3D isn’t quite ready for prime time, but it really can look great. Those of us who are enthusiasts, recognize that the 3D artifacts are significantly more noticeable than small things we still complain about with 2D noise. If you are a person who wants a relatively flawless image, 3D isn’t there yet. Maybe if they up the speed to 240 hz, and maybe 196hz for 24 bit movies…

But, how that plays out, we’ll have to see.

What I do care about discussing, is what you can expect with the VW90ES when watching 3D.

To a large extent, you are trading brightness for coolness (in a “3D looks cool” sense). It’s not just cool though, it’s intense. 3D can really up your emotional response to the content.

Brightness a key issue, but the oft pleasure of 3D is a major offset. I can’t wait until we have projectors with lots of lumens in addition to excellent 2D home theater, but that’s not just out there yet (at these “bargain” prices).

I was most skeptical when Sony announced a 3D, 1000 lumen projector. I’ve now played with three different fairly expensive 3D projectors and so far, when doing 3D, the Sony looks the brightest. This is interesting since the Sharp measured almost 40% brighter. The Sharp is a DLP projector, the Sony 3 panel LCoS. Now, I’m being told, that the differences in polarization retention is a factor with screens with some 3D technologies.. The screens I’ve been using are the Carada Brilliant White, in both rooms. I will have other screens soon, including the Studiotek 130, and the Screen Innovations BD1.4.

So, it may well be, with a different screen, that the Sharp will appear as bright, but, meantime, the difference must be somewhere – glasses? Screen?

No matter, what matters is what they look like when you are watching. If you are used to “normal brightness” when watching 2D, then 3D is going to be dim on the same screen. It’s not like you can forget how bright 2D is, all you have to do is peek out from under your glasses.

Above: Sony on the left, Sharp on the right – 3D, no, glasses won’t help. They appear to have very different looking color, with the Sony showing very strong blues here, the Sharp a bit the other way. I give the Sony the edge in side by side viewing. It not only seems as bright, or a tad more so, but had the slightly more enjoyable looking picture. Back to Brightness: For perspective about 3D brightness, my old JVC (with a new lamp – about 700 lumens), filling my old Firehawk G3 – a 128″ diagonal gray surface, put a brighter image on the screen than this Sony can in 3D with a screen size in the 80-90″ diagonal range. Of course in 2D, this Sony and my projector are very comparable in brightness. For all of the issues, I really do enjoy watching 3D.. With the Sony, last night, I watched part of Alice In Wonderland again. I started at the full 106 inches, but after 15 minutes settled on about 88″ diagonal (the smallest I could get without moving the projector closer.) It was bright enough for me. But one of my friends, still was very unhappy.

Click Image to Enlarge

No matter, what matters is what they look like when you are watching. If you are used to “normal brightness” when watching 2D, then 3D is going to be dim on the same screen.

Watching 3D, though, is really great despite all of that…

It’s the significant percent of HDTV type content though – Discovery HD, sports, etc. that’s really killer in 3D, and it’s coming! I’m more interested in that, than upcoming movies, although that works too.

So, how is the value proposition for this Sony? Let’s consider:

You are getting to buy a brighter projector than last year’s VW85. Some modes measure 10% or more brighter, others about the same, but overall, the projector is brighter. In “brightest mode”, this year’s Sony is 10% brighter than last. I point this out because that improves value. I give a lot of value for the extra lumens. In exchange for that boost, plus the usual other year to year improvements, Sony has upped the price point to $9999, a $2000 increase over the older model. You’ll have to weigh all the improvements and 3D against that $2K.

You can look at that two ways. If you don’t care about 3D, or 3D in its current state, in terms of content availability, equipment choices, then the 90ES may not be worth the difference and you might look for the older VW85, despite the slight improvements in blacks, and brightness. If you want to play with 3D, though, I’d say that, relative to the early days of 3D, and the pricing, which of course will come down as 3D catches on. (I’m assuming it will.) Then this Sony provides a great balance; a great 2D projector, and an extra couple thousand for the 3D, some more brightness and other improvements.

When it comes to the competition, the Sony VW90ES has only a very few competitors that can do 3D. Your selection process will be different if you don’t care about 3D. If you are shopping for 3D (like I am) and would like it now (I do), at least occasionally. There are only 4 1080p competitors within a magnitude of price. At the lower end, is the Sharp XV-Z17000 a great 3D projector for half the price of the Sony, but it really isn’t in the same class from a picture quality standpoint. (It’s older 2D version, the XV-Z15000, we considered a better than average $2000 projector.)

That leaves the JVC RS50 and RS60, at $8K and $12K, plus the LG CF3D at $15K. A few more are coming, but not in the next few months. Because of the brightness issues we discuss in the Competitors page, unless our JVC RS60 review unit proves defective (JVC’s looking at it), we don’t see very viable for 3D, at least not without high power screens, etc. If the Sony needs more brightness, then the JVC we had needs lots more. Comparing brightest modes, the Sony’s over 40% brighter based on our measurements. With my rather average white screen, the JVC just wasn’t bright enough to watch in 3D even at 80″ diagonal. If you want 3D and the JVC’s are producing well less than 600 lumens (mid-point on zoom), then the Sony advantage is huge. With 3D where every lumen counts, you

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