Sony VPL-HW10 – Performance

Sony VPL HW10 Brightness

It is the nature of home theater projectors, that there are two general types of projectors when it comes to brightness. The first group, which includes the Sony HW10, are those that do not have a big increase in brightness as you go from “best” movie mode, to “brightest mode”. Typically, with this class of projectors, “brightest” mode is typically 10% to 100% brighter, than best mode. The other class, shall we say, typically, has 100% to 400% more lumens, in brightest mode.

With the first class, like this Sony, the problem is that there is plenty of lumens for movie watching, but not enough for HDTV/TV/Sports, with some room ambient light.

As a result, with the Sony, you can (forgetting higher gain screens), go with a significantly larger screen, if all you care about is movie watching, but if you plan to do a lot of HDTV/TV/Sports, with some ambient light, as well as movies, then you need to limit the screen size.

The Sony VPL-HW10 is brighter than most in best mode, and definitely less brighter than average in “brightest.

Out of the box (pre-adjustment) measurements:
Cinema 773 lumens @ 6502K
Standard 840 @ 7921K
Dynamic 873 @ 9187K

After calibration Cinema mode actually increased in brightness to 836 lumens (we arbitrarily consider “average brightness” to be 400 to 550 lumens). Only a handful of projectors are brighter (in best mode), including the InFocus IN83, and the Optoma HD81-LV, but both of those are real light cannons when in their brightest modes. TheJVC RS1RS1x, and likely the RS10 shipping next month, are very similar to the Sony, with around 800 lumens in best mode, and 900 in brightest. They are also direct competitors.

More details and information can be found in the calibration page of this review.

As you can see, Cinema mode is virtually as bright as Dyamic mode.

Bottom line: The types of content you watch, will determine how large a screen will work for you. If you don’t care about HDTV/TV/Sports, or don’t mind watching them with your room at its darkest, then you can have a nice large screen, like my 128″ or even a little larger, but if you are looking at watching HDTV with some lights on, you better keep your screen size to 110″ or smaller (assuming normal gain screens). My rule of thumb for filling my 128″ Firehawk for sports viewing, with some ambient light, is a minimum of 1500 lumens.

Dropping the lamp to eco-mode (low power), we measured a much larger than typical 32% drop in lumens. That’s probably a good thing, as those with smaller screens, will likely run the projector in eco-mode (low lamp power), for movie watching, and kick it back up to full power for other content.

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.

At full wide angle, brightness increases by 11% to roughly 930 lumens.

At full telephoto mode, brightness decreases by 16% to 698 lumens.

Bottom line, if ceiling mounting is your thing, and you can up your brightness slightly by mounting the projector so you are almost to full wide angle.

Sony VPL-HW10 Sharpness

It’s hard to say, definitely, since it’s been a long time since I had the older VPL-WV40here, but my take is that sharpness has been improved, but only very slightly. I did have the Sony side by side with the Panasonic PT-AE3000, and I’d give the Sony the slightest advantage (but not enough to affect any buying decsion. I doubt anyone could determine which is sharper, without a side by side comparison.

That makes the Sony still a little soft compared to the sharpest projectors out there, such as the InFocus IN83, most Optoma’s and the Mitsubishi 1080p projectors. TheSanyo PLV-Z3000, (which arrived yesterday, but hasn’t been viewed yet, will fit into the sharper group as well (even their low cost PLV-Z700 is sharper than the Sony.

I refer to projectors like the Sony (in terms of sharpness) to be average, and the rest, sharper. LCoS projectors typically are in the average category, so the Sony keeps good company, with the likes of the JVC LCoS projectors, and also some others, notable the Panasonic, and the Epson Home/Pro Cinema 1080 UB. The new Epson’s should be here shortly. They are claiming an improvement in sharpness, but, whether it’s significant enough to put the new Epson’s in the “sharper” category, we won’t know for a few weeks.

Sony HW10
Sony VPL-VW60
Mitsubishi HC7000
Sanyo PLV-Z2000
Optoma HD8000
InFocus IN82

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