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Sony VPL-VW50 "Pearl" 1080p Home Theater Projector Review: Overview

Posted on February 27, 2007 by Art Feierman

Specs Preview

Sony VPL-VW50 Specs
Price 4995
Technology LCoS
Native Resolution 1920x1080
Brightness (Manufacturer Claim) 900
Contrast 15,000:1
Zoom Lens Ratio 1.8:1
Lens Shift Yes
Lamp Life not rated
Warranty 2 years

This review has been a long time in coming. I had originally hoped (from talking with Sony at CEDIA last September) to get in a review unit in late October or November. Well, it took an extra 3 months or so, but it is here at last.

Click to enlarge. SO close

Over that long wait, I've seen the Sony VW50 - also known as the Sony Pearl - a number of times at shows, and have always had an overall good impression of it, but also some reservations. Now, having worked with it for over a week, and logging about 40 hours on it, I'm pleased to report that this Sony projector really is impressive, though, of course, not perfect. In fact, the Pearl is almost all strengths, and only two weaknesses (neither of them particularly great weaknesses), damping my overall enthusiasm.

Click Image to Enlarge

The Sony produces (once properly adjusted - more on that later) an excellent overall image, and at its best, some of the best black levels I have seen to date (it relies on a dynamic iris, so contrast varies with the scene).

The image itself is very natural, a key strength, which reminds me of the Samsung SP-H710AE. By comparison, most other 1080p projectors seem initially to have more wow factor, but after watching the Sony for a while, my own adjusted BenQ PE-8720, for example, seems to be oversaturated, more contrasty, overall, less real or natural than the Sony. On the downside, the Sony definitely isn't going to be considered one of the sharper projectors out there, nor one of the brightest. It's brightness, I should note, though, was better than expected, since the Sony is usually considered one of the less bright around. I didn't find that to be true either measuring it, or watching it.

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