Sony VPL-VWPRO1 Projector - Performance
12/24/2010 - Art Feierman
In this section we consider the brightness, sharpness, and image noise of the Sony VPL-VWPRO1 home theater projector. Also considered are the physical attributes of light leakage and audible noise.
Sony VPL-VWPRO1 Brightness
The Sony VPL-VWPRO1 (HW20a) projector brightness numbers below were recorded by Mike before and after calibration. They were taken using a full production VWPRO1 projector.
Lumen Output and Color Temp at 100 IRE (mid zoom):
Dynamic= 907 @ 11749, 1044 @ 9531 w/ Color Temp. on Custom 4
Standard= 851 @ 8893
Cinema= 857 @ 8684
User 1= 910 @ 11745
User 2= 857 @ 8918
User 3= 771 @ 7147
Note that User 1 is identical to Dynamic (to start), and User 3, identical to Cinema. (yes, User 2 is identical to Standard.)
Above, however, we are showing User 3, after Mike made the simple (and highly recommended) change of the color temp setting to Low, so those numbers are dissimilar from the default Cinema mode. Note there is a drop in lumens, and a huge drop in color temp, to a much better looking range around 7000K down from mid-8000K.
Effect of zoom on lumen output (Dynamic mode, Custom 4):
Zoom out: 1162
Zoom in: 827
The impact of the numbers above show that there is significant impact to where you mount, in terms of distance from your screen. If you are going large screen, a closer mount will give you more lumens, but there are other trade-offs. Also figure most lenses aren't at their best at their absolute extremes.
The 1162 lumen measurement is the brightest combination of lens position, and settings we were able to obtain, and that is almost a perfect 10% below Sony's 1300 lumen claim. Since the home theater projector that actually beats its claims is rather rare, we consider getting within 10% of claim to be better than most.
Color Temp over IRE Range (Best Mode, Pre calibration):
Cinema w/ default Custom 2 color temp Cinema w/ Low color temp
30 IRE 9422 7512
50 IRE 9185 7356
80 IRE 8871 7122
As noted on the first page of this review, a "best mode" with an average color temp around 9000 is not a good thing!
But, change that one setting - Color Temp to Low, and bingo, though still touch cool (compared to drastically so), but a good looking "brightest mode".
Before we talk post calibration, let's also consider the Sony projector's iris. It not only has two dynamic settings, and off, but can be put into a manual mode, for those not wanting the dynamic feature. Here are the effects of the different settings:
Effect of Iris settings on lumen output (Dynamic mode, Custom 4):
Iris on Manual (maximum opening) = 960
Iris on Manual (50% open) = 738
Iris on Manual (minimum opening) = 388
Iris on Off or Auto 1 or 2 = 1044
Notice, that when in manual mode, the iris does not measure quite as bright as OFF or the "auto" (dynamic iris) modes.
Our "quick-calibration" of Dynamic mode ( which is designed to improve color as much as possible without sacrificing a lot of lumens), yielded 982 lumens, compared to 1044 lumens before Mike's adjustments. Tell you the truth, though, the Sony color looks pretty good before Mike's "quick-cal". In other words, if you should need every last lumen, the Sony's default, with Color Temp at 4, will get you by, when the ambient light is threatening.
User 3 - our calibrated Cinema mode, measures a whopping 763 lumens. Only two models ago, Sony was barely able to put out 400 lumens. Talk about stepping up! With mid-700 lumens, this Sony now is far brighter than the Epson UB's it once couldn't match, and it should be every bit as bright as the new JVC that is squarely in its price range, the HD250.
Here's the post calibration color measurements. Not the tightest we've seen, and the Sony VW-PRO1 does have whites that are a touch cool, while the darkest ranges 20 IRE and below shift the other way, a touch too warm. With roughly a 525K spread, it still remains well balanced, even if we've reviewed other projectors that have calibrated the whole range within 200K. The bottom line is the picture quality, and the color looks really, really good, and natural! One might say "a sweet ride".
Color Temp over IRE Range (Post calibration):
20 IRE 6268
30 IRE 6592
40 IRE 6559
50 IRE 6588
60 IRE 6568
70 IRE 6532
80 IRE 6460
90 IRE 6415
100 IRE 6794
Average gamma= 2.22
This projector could have handled my 128" high contrast gray Firehawk G3 screen effortlessly, for movie viewing. I would have liked to see the combination. That said, if my new screens arrive in time, I'll be able to view the Sony on a 124" diagonal (2.35:1) screen (I'll be manually working the zoom to do what "lens memory" does for some projectors.)
Eventually I hope to put a 100" or 110" 16:9 Firehawk G3 or SST down in the testing room (in addition to other screens), but until then, it will be hard to give a direct assessment of how easily this Sony can handle a larger screen.
The Calibration page will provide the settings we used. That includes basic settings as well as gain and offset.
Sony VPL-VWPRO1 Sharpness
OK, some things don't really change. 3 chip projectors, be they 3LCD, LCoS, or DLP, all have potential convergence issues, and none are ever perfectly converged. As a result, it's common for even moderately priced single chip DLP projectors like the under $1300 Mitsubishi HC4000, or the over $2000 BenQ W6000, to be slightly sharper than most projectors using 3 chips, even up to $10,000.
That said, the slight softness compared to a DLP, is minor. On typical movie viewing most of us simply won't notice any softness, since the film introduces its own softness and grain artifacts. Switch to digital HD source material - be it Monday Night Football, or ScyFi HD, Discovery HD, History HD, HD HD, or etc HD, and you will notice that a sharp single chip DLP will appear a bit sharper in a side by side comparison.
For most of my viewing until my theater is finished, I'm viewing from a lot further back than usual. 20 feet from a 100" screen, instead of 11.5 feet from a 128" screen. The Sony looks razor sharp at everything from this distance, on that sized screen. When I move closer to 10 feet away, the Sony is a touch soft, as I would expect, when watching all digital content. On movies, it's just fine.
Overall, the sharpness is good, like many other 1080p projectors. There are only a handful of projectors - almost all single chip DLP projectors that will appear any sharper. I generally refer to almost all 1080p resolution home theater projecors as either sharp, or (a bit) sharper still. This Sony is sharp.
For your consideration, our usual close up images:
Top left: VPL-VWPRO1, Top Left Center - LG CF181D, Top Right Center - JVC RS25, Top right - Mitsubishi HC7000
2nd row left: Panasonic PT-AE4000, left center: Epson Home Cinema 8700UB, right center: older Sony HW15, right: BenQ W6000.
Please note, we are still switching over to using the Playstation video logo as our sharpness example, instead of the old dts-hd logo. The original sample test disc from dts died, and they can't find me another.
Close up of a computer monitor, from Space Cowboys (Blu-ray), left to right: VPL-VWPRO1 , InFocus 8602, Vivitek H5080, and Sanyo PLV-Z4000.
Sony VPL-VWPRO1: Bottom Line Sharpness
LCoS projectors, like 3 chip LCD and 3 chip DLP projectors tend to be a little less razor sharp than good single chip DLPs, but that said, this Sony looks great on movies and other film content, and is sharp enough to impress on digital content like HDTV Sports, and Discovery HD.
The Sony PRO1 has minimal light leakage, and that comes out through the lens. It is very minimal, and is most evident if you are using a lot of lens shift, and if you are looking for it on an extremely dark scene. In other words - no issue here!
Sony continues to produce projectors that are very good when it comes to most image noise. It performs just fine using the Silicon Optix HQV test disc. No issues worth reporting.
Sony claims 22 db in low power, which is a very good number - almost silent. It does make a bit more noise, though in full power. Sony does not provide a number for full power, but it is probably in the high 20's I'd say about 27 to 28 db. Its pitch is a bit different, but overall, this Sony's noise levels are very similar to Epson's 8700UB. That means I consider both to be very quiet in low power, and quiet enough to be fine for all but the most noise adverse enthusiasts. In a pinch, this Sony is brighter in its eco-mode, than its predecessor was at full power.