Epson Home Cinema 6500UB vs. Sony VPL-HW10

Epson Home Cinema 6500UB vs. Sony VPL-HW10

3LCD vs. LCoS! the Sony VPL-HW10 is the least expensive, current model LCoS home theater projector. (Sony calls their LCoS technology SXRD). The Sony VPL-HW10 is the replacement for the successful VPL-VW40.

The Home Cinema 6500UB has an advantage in black level performance, despite both projectors using a dynamic iris for improved black level performance. It seems the Epson can do blacker blacks on very dark scenes (when most needed). In the more mixed dark and bright scenes, the two projectors seem pretty comparable.

 

In the images below, the first an all black frame, the second with a logo, you can see the unevenness in the background color (and brightness) in both projectors. Remember these are early units, and further, on these really long time exposures, the colors tend to be exaggerated. The 6500UB is on the left, the Sony on the right. The Epson definitely has the edge on these two images. Look at the night scenes from The Dark Knight, and the differences in black level performance are still there. The Epson projector also has a modest placement flexibility advantage, thanks to a 2.1:1 zoom ratio compared to the Sony projector’s 1.6:1.

The Epson, for a 100 inch screen, can be placed just a little bit closer (less than one foot difference), but it can be placed about five feet further from the screen. Both projectors offer vertical and horizontal lens shift, but again, the Epson has a slight advantage, allowing for it to be placed up to about one foot higher than the Sony for that same 100 inch screen. The practical difference is that for a significant number of potential owners, the Sony likely will not work on a rear shelf, as it cannot be placed as far back from the screen. By comparison, the Epson should work shelf mounted in the vast majority of rooms. Brightness is another defining difference. While both projectors are similar in brightness, in best mode, the Sony has about 20% more lumens after calibration, than the 6500UB. That allows it to tackle a larger screen (that 20% is roughly the equivalent of going to a 120″ screen for the Sony, compared to a 110″ screen for the Epson projector. Things reverse, though, for brightest mode, where the Epson’s roughly 2000 lumens is double that of the Sony. That let’s the Epson handle a fair amount of ambient light for things like sports viewing, on the screen size you choose for movie watching (let’s say our recommended 110″ diagonal maximum). The Sony though, if you go its maximum for movies, say 120″ diagonal, it will not be able to handle any more than the minimum of ambient light. In fairness, the HW10 is about the same brightness as my JVC RS1, which does an adequate job with low ambient light levels for sports viewing on my 128″ Firehawk G3 screen – a high contrast gray surface that rejects a good amount of my room’s side ambient light. In other words, you can go beyond the 120 inches with the right room and screen. Next: Film-like performance vs. pop and wow. The Epson is a pop and wow projector. It’s scenes have a great, dynamic look. By comparison, the Sony image is a touch muted, but many would describe that as more film-like. Both are really very good, though, so a bit of personal preference comes into play.

Here are a couple of general images to compare the look and feel of the scenes. Note, because the Sony is a little brighter, these where shot with the Epson lamp at full power, and the Sony at low power. This left the Epson just a touch brighter, a smaller difference than with the two both on full power lamp mode. Also of note, The Epson has a bit more depth to its image (and that is without using Frame Interpolation): On this next image (which I labeled popwow), consider the significant differences in the look. This is supposed to be a sunny scene. The Epson delivers on that, the Sony looks more “cloudy day”. Ok, you get the idea! Sharpness – pretty much the same. I might give the Epson a slight advantage, but I really think any slight difference in appearance is due to the slightly more dynamic look of the Epson, than a real difference in sharpness. Shadow detail: Very close, the edge to the Epson. Neither are superb at shadow detail, but both are very competent. Consider though, it seems some of the best projectors at shadow detail are those with mediocre black levels. Warranty: Both have two years, but Epson provides an overnight replacement program. Lamp life – at full power, the Epson is rated at twice the lamp life of the Sony. That can save $400 – $1000+ over a few years of use.

That folks, is it – two very excellent projectors, reasonably priced. My personal choice here, is similar to what I wrote about the old Sony VW40 vs. the 1080 UB: Both have very good black levels, but come up short of the more expensive JVC. If I had to give up my JVC, I’d go with the Epson because of the slightly more dynamic look. Consider that better blacks often provide that extra dynamic look. The Sony is more like a compromised JVC, while the Epson is something else, it stands out as a bit different. Still not as good as the JVC. And, while more different than better, than the Sony, it offers a different look and feel to the projected image, with more wow factor. I like that. My JVC, thanks to superior performance, also has more pop and wow than the Sony. So, last year, I picked the Epson over the Sony, and looks like this time around, too.

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