Posted on May 18, 2009 By Art Feierman
Impressive! No, extremely impressive! Once again, Sony has introduced a serious contender in the $5,000 to $10,000 price range, with its VPL-VW70 which has a suggested retail of $7999, but can be found online for significantly less.
The VPL-VW70 should enjoy significant attention and support from the enthusiast home theater projector community. Certainly it is one of only a small handful of top contenders in the under $10,000 range.
It didn’t take long (a couple hours of viewing, post calibration), to decide that the VW70 definitely earns our Hot Product award. I found no real weaknesses in its overall performance. As one expects from Sony, picture quality is its key strength.
I had hoped to have received a VW70, and to complete the review of the Sony VPL-VW70 projector, in time for our 1080p Projector Comparison Report. That would have allowed the VW70 to compete for our Best In Class awards. Alas, Sony couldn’t provide one in time.
Before I go further, I can say it would have been a really serious contender. It certainly gives the JVC DLA-RS10 – and its identical JVC HD350 sibling, a run for the money. The JVC RS10 received our Best In Class – Runner-up Award, and had things turned out differently, in terms of the timing of this review, then the Sony may well have beat out those (lower priced) JVC projectors for the Runner-up award. It certainly would have been a close call, with each having advantages over the other.
What’s so good about the VPL-VW70? To start with, excellent color is a key strength of this Sony projector. Skin tones are excellent, about as good as anything I’ve seen, after calibration, except for the InFocus IN83. Keep in mind we normally do not calibrate individual primary and secondary colors, so figure with a full calibration that does, the skin tones and overall color accuracy will get even better. Certainly the Sony VW70, when it comes to color accuracy, should be in the same league as the JVC DLA-RS20 (which also has a full color management system), and I would have to say, skin tones on the VW70 are slightly better than the RS10 and HD350 (which lack a full color management system).
Black levels are also impressive, though not the absolute best, when using the dynamic iris, which they call Advanced Iris. Nonetheless, black level performance is excellent, with only a couple of projectors able to best it.
Its operation is fairly quiet. There are much quieter projectors out there, but it is still a lot quieter than many others.
It’s a good looking, projector – basically a shiny black top to its case, with tiny blue speckles just barely noticeable. For that reason, I have seen some call it the “Purple Pearl”. (The Pearl designation has been used for the multiple generations of this projector, over the last 3-4 years.) Despite the blue specs, it looks black (not purple or blue) except under close inspection and bright lights.
The Sony VPL-VW70’s dynamic iris has two settings to enhance black level performance. That will be discussed in more depth, later in the Image Quality section of this review.
As is typical of Sony LCoS – or as they call them, SXRD projectors, the VPL-VW70 is not particularly bright. Of the seven other projectors in the Sony’s class that we measured, only one, the Sharp projector, proved to be less bright. Actually, the Sony can be in the middle of the pack in brightness, if you turn off the dynamic iris. However, the iris is the Sony’s way of getting excellent black levels, and, without the iris engaged, black level performance definitely suffers.
A new remote control for the VW70 is excellent, one of my all time favorites for a home theater projector.
This Sony VW70 is a great projector. That said, it is best suited for small and average sized screens. It really doesn’t have the muscle for larger screens.
Like just a few other projectors, the VPL-VW70 home theater projector is a true pleasure to watch, or rather to watch content with. It will find a very good following among enthusiats in general, and perhaps do even better with purists.
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