Sony VPL-HW10 - Competitors
How does the Sony VPL-HW10 compare to other 1080p home theater projectors on the market?
12/01/08 - Art Feierman
VPL-HW10 vs. Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB
The HW10, considering it's street price around $3000, is more expensive than the current closeout price of the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB. That Epson gets replaced this month, by the Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB. The older Epson was our best in class winner, in this past year's 1080p home theater projector comparison report.
The Sony is definitely the quieter projector of the two. They are pretty much equal in terms of image sharpness, although the Epson tends to display a touch more softness in the corners when both are the most focused in the center. The Epson is selling for significantly less right now, as it is being phased out.
Both exhibit excellent black level performance, although the Sony has a slight edge in revealing shadow details. Both projectors provide a dynamic looking image (pop and wow), but I'll give the Sony the slight advantage in producing a more natural looking image.
The Epson has more placement flexibility in terms of zoom lens range, and lens shift, although the Sony's range is still very good. The Epson, of note, can be placed significantly further back, making it more likely that it will work in your room, in a rear shelf mounting situation. The Sony, which can only be about 16 feet back from a 100 inch diagonal screen, may have to sit too close to the screen, to work in the back of a longer room, or one with a smaller screen.
Both have two year warranties, but the Sony's warranty is pretty standard, while the Epson includes an overnight replacement program for both years.
Perhaps the biggest difference is brightness. While the Sony is significantly brighter in "best" mode (about 70%), the Epson has roughly double the brightness of the Sony, in brightest mode. For movie only watchers, that gives the Sony a real advantage, while those who have to deal with ambient light at times, and also like to watch HDTV/Sports, will prefer the extra horsepower the Epson provides. (The Epson has multiple ciniema modes, and one is a step up in brightness (although not quite as good) as the Theatre Black 1 mode we use as the Epson's Best mode.
There are definite trade-offs between these two, but one is likely to work better for your situation, than the other. And it's just as likely that the other one will work better for the next person.
Sony VPL-HW10 vs. Mitsubishi HC7000
Let's start with the pricing difference. From a street price standpoint, the Sony is less money, thanks to being available online. Whether that holds true if you buy the Sony from a local dealer, is hard to say.
In this case I have a preference. If you are not going the larger screen route, I favor the HC7000 slightly over the Sony. The HC7000 has a visibly sharper image, it's even quieter, has black levels at least as good, and I'd give it the edge in just looking "right", as it has a very film-like image. The Mitsubishi left me more impressed after extended watching, then the Sony did.
Both projectors are in the same range of brightness in brightest mode, but the Sony is almost twice as bright, in best mode. Once again, your room setup, and what you like to view will be a critical deciding factor. If you are really movies only (and/or everything else in an equally dark room), then the Sony has the lumen advantage, but otherwise, the more expensive (likely) HC7000, is the one I favor slightly. Both have 1.6:1 zoom lenses, with almost identical throw ranges.
Sony VPL-HW10 vs. Sanyo PLV-Z3000
The Sanyo PLV-Z3000 projector for review just arrived. Having viewed it for only a couple of hours, I'm not prepared to offer an accurate comparision. Instead look for the comparision in the Sanyo PLV-Z3000's competitors section, when it publishes later this week. In short, however, the Sanyo is less bright in best mode, and brighter in brightest (a real surprise). The Z3000 has the edge in terms of sharpness
The PLV-Z3000 offers more placement flexibility in terms of both lens shift and zoom range, and comes with an extra year warranty. All that and the Sanyo sells for less than the Sony VPL-HW10.
Sony VPL-HW10 vs. Panasonic PT-AE3000
Overall, the Panasonic is an excellent 1080p projector, especially considering it's $2500 price point. The Sony most likely will cost you at least a few hundred dollars more.
Both are about equally sharp in terms of image (perhaps a "not enough to matter" advantage to the Sony). Both are quiet. Both are medium sized projectors although the Sony is the larger of the two. Certainly, the Sony is the better looking box.
Black level performance favors the Sony, as seen in the comparison images in the image section. Still, both projectors are pretty comparable. The Sony can, on the right type of scenes - those that are all prety dark, produce blacker blacks. Shadow detail is comparable, with, perhaps a slight advantage to the Panasonic.
The Sony projector though, does look more dynamic on those dark scenes, which I feel does add something to the viewing experience.
When it comes to key features, the differences favor the Panasonic, as the Sony lacks these:
96/120fps support with creative frame interpolation for smooth fast moving scenes and pans.
Support for a 2.35:1 Cinemascope shaped screen, without needing an anamorphic lens (the Sony has no support for an anamorphic lens. Tthe Panasonic can either use an anamorphic lens, or emulate one!
In addition, the PT-AE3000 offers more placement flexibility, in terms of the range of its zoom lens, and in the amount of lens shift
Both projectors support standard 24fps and Deep Color.
From a practical standpoint, the Panasonic is an easier choice. It's better out of the box, adjusts more easily, and has more cool, and practical features. The Sony is more work, for sure, but can best the Panasonic in subtle ways. The Sony may be brighter in movie mode, but the Panasonic can muster up a brighter image when you need it.
Sony VPL-HW10 vs. Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB and Pro Cinema 7500 UB
With the Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB due in for review in the next two to three weeks. The Pro version, the Pro Cinema 7500 UB, is almost identical to the 6500 UB, but it supports an anamorphic lens and has a longer warranty (three years). The Home version should cost about the same as the Sony, or a few hundred dollars less, while the Pro Cinema 7500 UB, will likely be hundreds more expensive than the Sony. Tere's no point is speculating too much, about how these two will compare to the Sony, but here are the basic differences:
The Sony is quieter, larger, and definitely brighter in best mode. These Epson projectors have a better warranty, and more placement flexibility. All have completely manual zoom lenses and lens shift, with the Epson projectors having more range.
Black level comparisions should be interesting, as should shadow detail. They should be close. The Epson projectors should produce lots of extra lumens in brightest mode, compared to the VPL-HW10.
VPL-HW10 vs. InFocus IN83
The InFocus is a light canon. As bright as the Sony is in best mode, the InFocus in a notch brighter. When it comes to brightest mode, though, the InFocus is easily twice as bright! The InFocus also produces an extremely sharp image - a step up from the average sharpness of the HW10.
The Sony, on the other hand, wins the black level battle hands down. The IN83 is good, but not up to the better 3LCD and LCoS projectors. The InFocus though, does about as good as it gets, in terms of revealing dark shadow details, beating the VPL-HW10 in this regard.
The InFocus has a typical 1.2:1 zoom lens found on most DLP home theater projectors, and no lens shift. That pretty much limits it to a ceiling mount (or table top), but rear shelf mounting is out of the question.
The InFocus is definitely the more expensive of the two. And it still has about the most natural image of any projector we've reviewed recently, and calibrates even better than the Sony.
The Sony and this InFocus models both offer a standard 2 years parts and labor warranty.
VPL-HW10 vs. JVC DLA-RS1x, DLA-RS2 DLA-RS10 and DLA-RS20
Last year we favored the JVC's slightly over the Sony models, thanks to the JVC RS1(x) having better black levels without any dynamic iris, than the Sony VW40 (the model the HW10 replaces), with its dynamic iris.
This time around, things seem very similar, in that the HW10 is mostly the same as the VW40, but with improvements in features including Deep Color support, that the VW40 lacked. The Sony may offer better color controls, and in terms of brightness is very close to the RS1(x). Still, I favor my RS1 over the HW10. It is more expensive, but, I do believe is the overall better projector.
The real question is, how will this HW10 stack up against the new JVC RS10 (and HD350 version), when they ship before Christmas (08). Should be very interesting. My money is on the RS10, but let's just wait and see!
The RS10 will have more placement flexibility, should be similar in sharpness, have the black levels advantage, and be every bit as bright. The bright spot for the Sony, lies in that it will be the less expensive of the two projectors. Neither model supports an anamorphic lens.
The RS20 will also be interesting, but the RS20 is technically the direct competitor for the notably more expensive Sony VW70, which will be the next Sony we review. Both VW70 and RS20 are way more expensive than the HW10. The RS20 should match or beat the older RS2 at black levels, and that RS2 is still the black level champ.
NEXT: Sony VPL-HW10 warranty