Sony VPL-VW70 - Performance
5-18-2009 - Art Feierman
Sony VPL VW70 Brightness
The VPL-VW70 is below average in brightness, post calibration. In Cinema mode ("best mode"), were the VW70 measurements included in our 1080p Comparison Report, the VW70 would be the second least bright of the nine projectors.
Out of the box (pre-adjustment) measurements, for these measurements, the Auto Iris was disengaged in all modes:
Cinema: 555 lumens @ 6783K (Auto Iris disengaged, but most will run it engaged)
Standard: 602 lumens @ 7539K
Dynamic: 609 lumens @ 8368K however, we would recommend using the Medium color temperature setting, instead of the default of High. Using medium:
Dynamic: 636 lumens @ 7223K - slightly brighter, and much better color.
Because it is unlikely that most users would want the dynamic iris turned off when using Cinema mode for movies, we also measured Cinema mode with the Iris set to Auto 1. This yielded much lower brightness, and a slight shift in color temperature, and the measurement we will use for comparing to other home theater projectors:
Cinema (Iris Auto 1): 366 lumens @ 6478K
Switching to low lamp mode, reduced brightness approximately 37%, a larger amount than with most other projectors (typically you see a 20-25% drop). We measured with the Auto Iris disengaged, and measured 349 lumens down from 555 lumens with lamp at full power.
More details and information can be found in the calibration page of this review.
With a 1.6:1 lens, the brightness difference between closest position (wide angle) and furthest (telephoto) is not near as great as the many projectors with 2:1 zooms, but greater than those projectors with 1.2:1 zooms (mostly DLP models). We did our measurements in Dynamic mode, with the Auto Iris disengaged. The same percentage drops and increases should be consistent in other modes.
At full wide angle, brightness increases by approximately 9% to 662 lumens compared to the mid-zoom point.
At full telephoto mode, brightness decreases by 19% to 492 lumens compared to the mid-zoom point.
Bottom line, if ceiling mounting is your thing, you can up your brightness slightly by mounting the projector so you are almost to full wide angle. Conversely, if you shelf mount in the rear, you are likely to be at full telephoto, or close, on the lens, which will result in almost a loss of 20% of brightness.
If you haven't already visited the Image Quality page of this review, where we discuss (among other things) brightness, you may want to check out the HDTV section of that page. There you will find images showing the Sony VW70 with a sports image of about 100 inch diagonal, with the room dark, and other with modest ambient light present. There is also a good shot of the room to give you an idea how lit up the room was, when the ambient light photo was taken. You'll also find the same image with ambient light present, in Cinema mode, and another in Dynamic mode, to show the brightness difference.
Sony VPL-VW70 Sharpness
It is my belief that the VW70 is slightly sharper than the VW60 I reviewed last year. That said, the difference would be slight. I still consider the VW70 to fit into the "average" sharpness (for 1080p projectors) as opposed to the "sharper still" group, as I defined them in the sharpness section of the 1080p Projector Comparison Report.
Top left: Sony VW70, Top Center, Sony VPL-HW10, Top right: Mitsubishi HC7000
2nd row left: JVC RS20, middle: Optoma HD8000, right: InFocus IN83
Close up of a computer monitor, from Space Cowboys (Blu-ray), left to right: VW70, Epson Home Cinema 6500UB, Mitsubishi HC7000, and BenQ W20000.
Sony VPL-VW70: Bottom Line Sharpness
As I've stated before, the great thing about "average sharpness" 1080p projectors is that they really look very sharp. There's not one current 1080p projector that I would reject, based on the softness of its image. That doesn't mean one can't appreciate the slight additional sharpness of those that can do better.
If you are obsessed with sharpness - or at least very concerned, consider that you are more likely to notice the sharpness differences between, say the VW70, and the InFocus IN83, which we consider one of the sharpest, when viewing all digital source material, such as live sports on HDTV, or those great travelogues, general interest and scientific channels, such as Discovery HD, Travel HD, etc., than when watching movies originally shot of film. With film, you already have built in artifacts - the grain of the film, which inherently have a softening effect.
Bottom line: While you can find a few projectors, that side-by-side are visually sharper, the differences are not great, and, at least in my opinion, only a minor consideration in your final projector selection.
The VW70 does leak some light through the lens. In my testing room, I can spot a small amount of light hitting my wall, outside of the projected image area. To do so, though I need an almost perfectly dark scene, and then I have to go looking for it. Because of the VPL-VW70's excellent black levels, the brightness of the stray light is very, very dim, and should not be an issue. Note, however, if you have a white wall around your screen, then you may be able to spot the light leakage, but again, its minor.
The Sony VPL-VW70 really has very good image processing. No jaggie issues, 3:2 pull-down is good when used (most of my movie content is from Blu-ray at 24fps, which doesn't need 3:2 pull-down). Mosquito noise is very good, better than most projectors (notably better than most DLP projectors). The Sony outputs 24fps content at 48fps (2:2).
Sony has reduced the audible noise levels in both this projector and the less expensive HW10. While the older Sony LCoS projectors were reasonable in audible noise levels, this VW70 is one of the quiest projectors around in low power, and is still very good at full power. Sony does not seem to provide specs, however, I would have to guess that the VW70 is close to 20db in low power and probably 25-27 db at full power, and while there are quieter projectors out there, those are pretty good numbers, and a good 5-6 db lower than the noisier home theater projectors out there. Most of the most audible noise adverse folks will be able to live with the full power noise levels, and no one should have a problem in low power.