Projector Reviews

Sony VPL-VW50 “Pearl” Home Theater Projector Review – General Performance

Sony VW50 Projector – Menus

Sony offers a very good menu structure. With most non-initial installation items located nicely on the Picture Menu. Many controls typically require sub-menus, but there are only 2 levels of sub menus below the main menus, so navigation is easy.

The first option is Picture mode which has three presets: Dynamic, Standard, and Cinema, plus three user savable settings (shown below). There is also a “local” reset, which only affects the Picture menu.

Standard items like Contrast, Brightness, Color (saturation), and Sharpness, can all be controlled from the main Picture menu.

After the Picture Mode menu (presets) without a doubt the next key submenu is the Cinema Black Pro menu.

Selecting it brings up two choices, one – control of the Sony VW50’s dynamic iris, and, two, lamp power!

Upon selecting the Advanced Iris option (not shown), you get four options: Auto 1 (recommended for movies), Auto 2, a bit more “extreme” and occasionally noticeable, Manual, which allows you to set the iris at a fixed amount, to increase contrast (slightly, but consistantly), and off, which leaves the iris wide open, allowing the maximum amount of light to get to your screen. In addition, for Auto 1 and Auto 2, you can choose from Recommend (which I used for all viewing), or Fast or Slow.

Lamp Control offers Low and High settings.

Also of note is the Color Temp submenu, (not shown), which allows you to select from Hi, Middle, Low, and three custom settings (1,2,3) In the custom settings, you can set individually, Gain, and Bias for Red, Green, and Blue, for doing a grayscale balance.

There is also a Black Level Adjust, with High, Low, and Off. I played briefly with these controls, and found Off to be my preferred setting. (On High, Low). In High, I noticed a loss of shadow detail.

Gamma Correction offers Gamma Off, 1, 2, 3. I relied on Gamma 1 for my viewing, I did not experiment much with Gamma 2 or 3. Gamma 3 produces a darker overall tone to the image. I would say that Off or Gamma 1 are best for most viewing. Note, Sony offers software called ImageDirector2 that will, if you are hooked up for computer control (to the RS-232), to create custom gammas.

Next on the main menu list is the Advanced Picture Menu, with two options – RCP, the VW50’s advanced color management, which allows individual adjustment of the six total primary and secondary colors. There is also a Color Space control, which I selected and used Wide for most viewing.

The Screen menu comes next with its control of handling 4:3 aspect ratio content, and Overscan (overscan was set to off for all viewing except on occasional standard TV (SDTV) viewing where noise appeared at the top of the screen.

goodies, most of which you will use but once, such as selecting menu language, cooling mode (Standard or High altitude), standby and power saving options, and lamp reset, when you replace the lamp. Power Saving mode will power down the projector if there is no signal for 10 minutes.

There is also an Installation Menu (shown below), which allows keystone setting, setting the image for front/rear projection, ceiling/table, the ability to turn on/off the front or rear IR sensors, and a Blanking feature which will allow you to move the image around on the screen. For example, with a 16:9 source, if you have the ability to lower your (pulldown or motorized) screen, part way, you could only expose a 16:9 shape, then use Blanking to move the image up, to fill it completely – voila’ – no visible letterboxing (although the letterboxing would actually be off the screen to the bottom, not a problem if your walls are dark.

Also not shown are a Function Menu (Auto source search, Test Pattern on/off, and background color select. Lastly, there is an Information Menu, which, most notably, tells you how many hours are on the lamp.

Sony VW50 Projector – User Memory Settings

As noted above, you can create custom Color Temp settings, adjust Gamma, and many other options, and if you do this while User 1, 2, or 3 are selected in Picture mode, those many settings will be recalled when you select User 1, 2, or 3. The controls do not seem to be device dependent, so it looks like you have a total of only three user savables, despite the number of devices hooked up. Note, you can also make changes, however, while set for dynamic, standard or cinema, and the projector will remember those as well, until you change them.