Sony VPL-VW70 - Review Summary
A summary of the Sony VPL-VW70 home theater projector's pros and cons and capabilities.
12/01/08 -Art Feierman
Sony VPL-VW70 Projector: Bottom Line
The Sony VPL-VW70 is an excellent projector, if not a particularly bright one. It offers high end performance, and an extremely pleasurable picture to watch. The VW70 easily earns one of our Hot Product Awards!
Other than having enough brightness to handle larger screen sizes, there is little to complain about with the VW70. Skin tones appear very natural, (one of the best we've seen), black level performance is one of the best we've ever tested, although a couple of projectors can best it. I should note, that I'm not aware of any projector that sells for the same price or less, other than JVC's DLA-RS10 and DLA-RS20, that can rival or beat its impressive black level performance. And, since I've just mentioned the JVC's, I should note that the Sony has a slight advantage in terms of skin tones and overall color accuracy over the JVC RS10 (although not the RS20). Dark shadow detail is also very good, competitive with any of the immediate competition.
Unless you choose to go with a particularly high gain screen, the VW70 works best with screen sizes of 100 inch diagonal or less, due to its noticeably lower than average brightness, measured 366 lumens in "best" mode (Cinema, with the Advanced Iris engaged). The situation is the same for brightest mode (Dynamic) which measured 636 lumens, again, well below average, in this case, for a bright mode. We find that in the $3500 - $10,000 price range, where the VW70 competes, average "best" mode brightness is something over 500 lumens, and about 1000 lumens in "brightest" mode.
In addition to a great picture, the VPL-VW70 projector offers good placement flexibility. It can be ceiling or shelf mounted. If your room is deep, however, and your screen size average for the size of the room, you may not be able to place the projector far enough back to sit on a rear shelf. In addition, if it just makes it far enough back, that means that you have the zoom lens pretty much in full telephoto mode, where the projector is another almost 19% dimmer (at full telephoto), further limiting your options in terms of screen size, or requiring a high gain screen.
The Sony VPL-VW70 now fully supports HDMI 1.3, with Deep Color (missing from the older VW60), CEC, x.v.color, and more.
Sony's RCP (their color management system), should allow additional, further fine tuning when calibrating, and therefore produce even better results than we achieved, with just a grayscale balance.
None of the Gamma settings we measured were dead on the target of 2.2, but the Sony sure looked great with Gamma 3, which averaged just over 2.1. I like the wide selection of gammas. It's not unusual for many folks to change gamma settings between one movie and the next, if one, overall has a darker, or brighter look than the other. (I spend my time watching movies on my JVC, splitting most of the viewing hours between two different gammas.)
Overall, I have to say that the Sony VPL-VW70 depending on what prices you find, has to be considered either a good value proposition, or a very good one.
If you are looking to get the performance expected when spending upward of $5000, I strongly suggest that the VW70 be placed on your short list. It's an oustanding projector for screens around 100 inch diagonal or smaller.
To sum it up, Sony has built an excellent projector, and a very competitive one.
Sony VPL-VW70 Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities
Sony VPL-VW70 Projector: Pros
- Extremely good color accuracy after calibration
- Excellent black level performance (one of the very best)
- Very good shadow detail
- Extensive color control management (called RCP), for the adjustment of individual colors (we do not go this far, in our calibration)
- 2 HDMI 1.3 inputs with full support for 24 fps, Deep Color, x.v. color, HDMI CEC (control) etc. (the older VW60 did not support Deep Color...)
- Doubles 24fps content to 48fps
- No image noise issues, thanks to very good image processing
- Good menus
- Very good (but not great) placement flexibility with 1.6:1 zoom and plenty of lens shift
- A fairly quiet projector overall, and reasonably quiet even in "brightest" mode
- Good manual, but definitely could have more in-depth explanations for many functions
- Great remote control
- Very good looking projector - physically
- Good price/performance
Sony VPL-VW70 Projector: Cons
- One of the least bright of the more expensive 1080p projectors when in "best" mode, which limits the size of screen you choose
- One of the least bright projectors in "brightest" mode (Dynamic in this case), very few lumens available for dealing with more than the minimal ambient light.
- Lamp door is on the bottom, and while the door is behind the screw holes for a ceiling mount, unmounting the projector MAY be required when using some ceiling mounts, in order to change the lamp
- Lacks 96/120 fps support - lacks creative frame interpolation. While the relative importance of these new features is undetermined, they will gain in popularity. So far, however few projectors do creative frame interpolation. More can take 24fps to 96 or 120, but the Sony takes 24 to 48 and that's the most important step
- As with most other projectors, the VW70 has 2 HDMI inputs, and we'd like to see three HDMI inputs standard on projectors.
Sony VPL-VW70 Projector: Typical Capabilities
- Two year warranty (about average for this class of projector)
- Average lamp life (we assume, Sony does not publish lamp life specs) we assume 2000 hours with lamp of full
- Supports an Anamorphic lens (all the competition in this price range does)
- Selection of inputs
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