Home Theater Projector Review: Sony VPL-VW60 LCD Projector: Summary, Pros, Cons
The Sony VPL-VW60 is not an entry level 1080p projector, either in terms of selling price, or performance. However, it is closer to several of those entry level models in terms of price than it is in performance. As a result, the Sony is an excellent value proposition. The VW60 earns its Hot Product Award, first and foremost, though, for its picture quality.
I really like the ergonomics. The wide range zoom, vertical lens shift and very quiet operation, allow the Sony to position, and perform well, in most people's dedicated home theater rooms as well as multi-purpose rooms.
The trick is whether or not the Sony works for your room, and viewing preferences. It will almost certainly "fit" in your room, in terms of placement, but your screen size, ambient light, and types of content are factors.
If I had to pick the two weaknesses of the Sony, they have to be its brightness, and sharpness. While it is average in brightness in its best - Cinema - mode, it is one of the least bright projectors in other modes, when you might need extra horsepower to deal with some ambient light.
As a result, the Sony is still best for those who are either almost exclusively concerned with movie viewing, or those with mixed viewing (movies, HDTV/TV/Sports), but sticking to small to medium sized screens. If you want to be watching TV/HDTV/Sports, with some modest lighting, at best, you should a.most certainly stick to screens of 110" diagonal or less. Consider that overall, the Sony is closest in performance to the JVC RS1, but the JVC is about 70% brighter for movies, and about 35% brighter in brightest mode. The difference between 110" screens and, for example my 128" diagonal screen works out to the 128" being about 25% more surface area. As such, that means that the JVC, for TV viewing, can do better on a 128" than the Sony can on a 110". Of course higher gain screens will allow you to go a bit larger with the Sony.
In terms of Sharpness, the Sony VW60 sits at the softer end of the scale. In fact, it is the softest looking of any of the new crop of 1080p's The Panasonic is close, but improved over their older model, and I would give the Panasonic PT-AE2000U a slight edge.
So, while close inspection of the images I provided show this lack of crispness (I probably shouldn't say sharpness, as that has some different meanings), I still found the Sony to appear sharp when viewing at normal seating distances, and I have exceptionally good corrected vision (20/15), and sit close. Bottom line on "sharpness", the Sony may be weak, but it is a minor point, far less likely to affect your decision, than, brightness for example.
I've commented significantly about some other projectors in the Image Quality section, so I'll just add a few more thoughts here. From a picture quality standpoint I would take the Sony over any of the lower priced LCD 1080p projectors, although I'm not including the new Epson Home Cinema 1080UB (shipping next month) as I haven't reviewed it yet. The Mitsubishi, and Sanyo both produce a crisper image, but, again, that's a secondary issue in my book.
The Optoma collection, from their Entry level HD80 to their HD81-LV, can't match the picture quality either, but a couple of them crank out more (and a lot more, lumens). The HD81 in particular, is direct competition, However, first you have to get past its limited room placement flexibility. The HD81-LV is a light cannon, and costs far more, so not a competitor.
That pretty much leaves the JVC projectors, and I've discussed them thoroughly elsewhere in this review. Suffice to say, that's the real contest in terms of Picture Quality, but the JVC costs a chunk more money, and is brighter. Therefore, if the cost difference between the two isn't a problem for you, the JVC, would be, in my opinion, the bettter choice for most people. Still that's a significant price difference!
Suffice to say, that the VPL-VW60 is a truly excellent projector, and one worth every penny, if the brightness isn't a problem for your installation.
Let's look at the pros and cons.
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Sony VPL-VW60 projector, Pros, Cons, andTypical Capabilities
Sony VPL-VW60 Projector: Pros
- VERY film-like
- Great color - dynamic and accurate - after proper grayscale calibration
- One of the best at shadow details
- Really excellent black level performance
- Very good remote control
- 1.8:1 zoom lens for very good placement flexibility
- Supports HDMI 1.3, and 24fps
- 3 User savable settings
- Very good color management system
- Has support for a 3rd party Anamorphic lens for those wanting true Cinemascope aspect ratio 2.35:1
- Very quiet projector
- Excellent Price/Performance and Value
Sony VPL-VW60 Projector: Cons
- Weak out of the box performance, requiring a good grayscale calibration, as the default for Cinema, is way too cool (blue)
- Very limited brightness (one of the least bright) in its brighter modes (Standard and Dynamic)
- Image appears softer - less crisp - than the competition
- Inputs on the side, can be a little more messy looking in some rooms
- One of the larger units (but that's not a "con" to most
- Only 2 HDMI inputs (although that's average, a 3rd would be a plus
- Based on list price, more expensive than its predecessor
Sony VPL-VW60 Projector: Typical Capabilities
- Average Brightness in Cinema mode
- Typical documentation, a good user manual, but limited descriptions of how to use many features
- Lamp life
- HDMI 1.3, but no support for Deep Color
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Sony VPL-VW60 Summary: The Bottom Line
If the Sony VW60 was brighter, it would have no serious competition (at this time) in the under $5,000 US 1080p home theater projector market.
Since it isn't, it won't be the right projector for everyone. The most important point though, once you get past its limited brightness in brightest modes, and decide that the Sony will work in your room, is that this looks to be the projector with the best overall image available today (12/07) for under $5K.
It's not just that the picture quality is excellent, and it truly is, but that it has the other bells and whistles - a wide range zoom lens, and much quieter than average operation, to name a couple.
I haven't found a real negative to the VW60's capabilities (lumens notwithstanding), other than the out of the box color performance, which demands you do something, if you really want to get the most out of this Sony projector. You might start by plugging in the Gain and Bias settings I used here, with this unit. Better still, you are buying one fine projector, so go spend a few hundred to get it fully calibrated. Softness of the images is present, but it is not a major issue, and no doubt helps achieve that coveted "film-like" quality.
Then, kick back and enjoy the Sony VW60. It will probably be the last projector you own for quite some time.
If I had a smaller screen, say 100" diagonal, I could be most happy with this Sony.