Sony VPL-VW60 Home Theater Projector Review: Overview and Physical Attributes
12-10-2007 - Art Feierman
Sony VPL-VW60 Projector Highlights:
- 1080p native resolution home theater projector
- Almost identical to previous model - Sony Pearl VW50, including very flexible placement
- Very film-like
- Average lamp life
- Out of the box color is not good, needs serious adjustment
- Average brightness in "best" movie mode, below average brightness overall
- Flexible in terms of placement with 1.8:1 zoom and lens shift
- Black levels and shadow detail improve only slightly vs VW50, however they are better than any other sub-$5000 1080p projector tested so far
- An excellent projector value for those primarily seeking best movie viewing or for general use on small to medium sized screens
Sony's VPL-VW60 home theater projector is definitely a serious contender in the market. Although priced about $1200 - $1700 higher than the "entry level" 1080p projectors, it has the picture quality to justify the cost difference, and then some. The VW60's real competion in terms of performance are all projectors listing for $6000 or more (that's at least 50% higher). Where the Sony is not stellar, is in brightness. It is barely average in its best mode, but when you need a "bright mode" with every last lumen a projector can muster, to tackle some ambient light, the Sony becomes one of the very least bright projectors out there. We'll go into this more in the General Performance Section when we talk about brightness, and also screen recommendations, and again, on the summary page of the Sony VS60 review.
Last year when I reviewed the Sony VW50 (often called "The Pearl"), I was most impressed. The Sony not only delivered excellent black levels and shadow detail (second only to the JVC RS1), but a gorgeous, overall, picture quality. It was one of the best projectors yet, and provided that "film-like" quality, when watching movies.
The VW60, by comparison, is a slightly improved, and, slightly less expensive version. Most of the improvement is in contrast ratios and black levels. Not a huge difference, but let's just say that it now rivals last years' JVC RS1, in terms of blacks, and the JVC was the best we've seen. Of the 10+ sub $10,000 1080p projectors we've reviewed since they started hitting the stores 15 months ago, only the JVC RS1 is arguably equal or better. There are still two serious contenders, starting with JVC's RS2, which also claims big improvement in black levels, and then there's Epson's new Home Cinema 1080UB scheduled to ship this month (12/07), which claims 50,000:1 contrast, the highest contrast spec we've ever seen. The Epson, being LCD based, like the Sony, relies on a lot of electronics controlling the image frame by frame. So far, I haven't seen any LCD projector regardless of the contrast spec that can match the Sony VW60's performance, but the Epson should be in, for review in two weeks or so (and so will the JVC RS2), and we'll know then!
As much as I have been impressed with the new 1080p LCD projectors, the picture quality of the Sony appear to be a cut above.
Sony VW60 Home Cinema Projector: Basic Specs
Technology: 3 chip LCoS (SXRD)
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)
Brightness: 900 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.8:1
Lens shift: Vertical (motorized) and horizontal (manual, and very slight)
Lamp life: 3000 hours at low power, 2000 hours at full lamp power
Weight: 24.6 lbs. (11 Kg)
Warranty: 2 Years Parts and Labor standard
Click here for more complete Sony VPL-VW60 specifications and brochure.
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Sony PLV-VW60 Home Theater Projector: Physical Tour
Facing the front of the Sony VW60 projector, centered, is the Sony's motorized zoom lens with a 1.8:1 zoom ratio. Almost above it, and just to the left, is the small front, infra-red sensor for the remote control. (The Sony's remote will be covered in the General Performance section.) The projector also has motorized focus, and motorized vertical lens shift.
Hot air vents out at an angle from the vents at the front left and right. Below the front of the VW60, are two, screw thread adjustable front feet. There is a non-adjustable rear bar serving as rear feet.
Unlike almost all other projectors, the Sony lacks a control panel on the top. Instead, a minimal set of controls is on the right side (looking from the rear). From back to front, there is the Lens button which toggles between Lens Focus, Lens Zoom and Lens Vertical Shift, and unless turned off, brings up a test pattern to make it easier to focus. Next comes a tiny "disk pad" which handles arrow key functions and if pressed in the center, acts as an Enter button. Further front is the Menu button, next is Input for selecting your source, and finally Power off/on. Press once for on, twice for off.
The Sony VW60's inputs are also on the right side (looking from the rear), below the small control panel. This is different than most projectors which have their input panels on the back.
The selection of inputs is about average for a higher end projector. There are, from the left (actually the rear), two HDMI inputs (a third would have been nice, but I'm a bit greedy), A single standard analog computer input (HD15 connector) is next.
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An S-video and a composite video input are next, followed by the usual 3 RCA jacks for a component video input. There is also a 12 volt trigger for screen control, and lastly an RS-232 jack labeled Remote, for command and control (such as controlling the projector, its menus, etc., from a computer). And that covers the input panel.
I should mention that there are two "idiot" lights on the top of the projector near the front, one is the On/Standby, and the other a "Lamp/Cover" indicator which can tell you two things: if it's time to replace the lamp, or if the cover not closed for the lamp filter area. Different flashing patterns identify the problem. With the On/Standby, it can warn of overheating, a fan problem or a general electrical problem.
Overall, the Sony is a fairly large projector, good looking and now with a dark gray metalic looking case, it will best blend in with darker colored ceilings, unlike the older VW50 which was much lighter. Thanks to the forward venting, and the wide range zoom, the Sony should also be equally at home on a rear shelf, although a long shelf, as the VW50 is almost 19" deep, and you won't want to put it flush against the back wall for ventilation reasons.
Time to get into the thick of things, it's Image Quality time.