Sony VPL-VW60: 1080p Home Theater Projector Review – Image Quality-8

Sony VPL-VW60 Projector Overall Picture Quality

Stunning! I spent a lot of time switching back and forth between the Sony VW60 and my own JVC RS1, while watching Casino Royale, House of the Flying Daggers, and other movies.

And these two projectors are very, very, close. I might still give the JVC the slightest edge in black levels, but not enough to be concerned about. Shadow detail still goes to the JVC as well, by a slightly larger margin, but the Sony shines when it comes to the depth of the image. This is an “ability” I can’t quite nail down as to what combination of areas of performance make this up, but every so often, I see projectors that just have that little extra. The Sony is one, Optoma’s HD81 (and brighter HD81-LV, is another).

It definitely is part of the “wow’ factor of the Sony.

The bottom line, is that the Sony has it, and it yields an initial reaction of being more impressive than my JVC. Let’s take a look at a wide range of images:

Sony VPL-VW60 Viewing - HDTV

As soon as we start talking HDTV, the game changes. Now ambient light becomes an issue, because most people don’t want to watch TV, and especially sports, “in a cave”.

For your consideration, here are a number of HDTV images, starting with football. In all cases, room lighting was daytime, afternoon (my side windows face south – the sun), with the motorized blackout shades full down, and the usual light leakage, making the room one of low light – you could read a newspaper, but would almost certainly turn up the lighting if that was your plan.

All told, the football and other sports looked good. I did spend one full afternoon watching college football, and it worked out fine (screen size 110″ diagonal). There are not many dark areas in a sports game. Thank’s to my Firehawk screen, the affect of the side lighting is minimized quite a bit, although less on the left side, and far more on the right.

Moving to other HDTV content was a big more challenging, as many programs do have darker scenes. I’ll start with some music video images:

Pete Townsend of The Who, above, doesn’t look bad, but you can find the same image on other projectors – brighter projectors, where he looks much better. The Sony is just not bright enough to give you the feel of good blacks at the 110″ diagonal size, with the amount of ambient light I get in the daytime with shades all down.

Before I go further, here is the ambient light situation for all of these HDTV images:

As you can see, not exactly drenched in sunlight – the room would best be described as having moderate to low lighting.

Back to images, the next two are of BonJovi and Sugarland performing together. In the first image you can again see the hit the Sony is taking, especially in the amps, and the people on the left side of the audience. Still, enjoyable to watch, but…

More problematic is this shot of Lindsey Buckingham’s band. Lighting on stage is not bright, and the image is more severely affected:

And, now for sitcom – Boston Legal, with the boys on the balcony, at night:

Lastly, my family watched the Victoria Secret annual fashion show (my daughter is hooked on anything modeling or theater related). It looked killer when we watched it at night, and the room was very dark, but not as well in the afternoon, when these images where shot:

Still, not bad at all, but this second image had a darker stage behind it, and the rich, vivid, but darker colors suffer under my ambient light:

Sony VPL-VW60 Picture Quality - Bottom Line:

The Sony is just wonderful to watch movies on. While entry level price projectors like the Sanyo and Panasonic are great projectors, with really good picture quality, the Sony, with its better black levels and other magic, is a step up projector. It’s also very good on HDTV content (I don’t mess around with standard def TV in my reviews), but takes a big hit if you have more than minor ambient light.

For the bucks, though, a movie watcher’s dream!

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