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Sony VPL-VW90ES Projector Overview

Posted on October 21, 2013 by Art Feierman

Sony VPL-VW90ES Projector Overview

The obvious big news is the addition of 3D and more brightness. As with any number of 3D projectors that have been announced and shipping, though, this year, the boost in brightness, is a compromise for 3D. In reality, we'd like to see any new home theatre projector, or business projector, for that matter, that is based on an older 2D model, to exhibit about 3 times the brightness of the older model, which would let those projectors be roughly as bright in 3D, as the older ones in 2D. More on that later.

We really appreciate the boost in brightness in this year's Sony VPL-VW90ES, as it is really nice to have for 2D, but, as with every 1080p 3D projector we've looked at so far, except the 2500 lumen LG CF3D (which is more commercial projector than home theater), you will find 3D underpowered. That's just the way it's going to be, it seems, with only an exception or two, at least until the end of 2012, when the next crop of home theatre projectors arrives at an authorized dealer (or online store) near you.

As with previous VW series home theater projectors, the Sony VPL-VW90ES projector relies on a dynamic iris to produce some very nice "ultra high contrast" type blacks. As has been the case for the last few years, Sony does a really nice job, but it's one area where the Sony has been playing catch-up for a few years, to JVC and Epson. No worries, as we will discuss in the Sony's Image Quality page

With a price tag of $10,000 - ok, $9995, this Sony VW90ES is out of reach price wise of a lot of our readers, but then, there are, also plenty who may be considering it.

As I like to look at it, if you decide to lease a Toyota Camry for three years, instead, of say a similar sized Lexus, I'm sure you could afford a Sony VPL-VW90ES, instead of, say a $2000 projector. Of course, the problem is being able, first, to afford to lease a Lexus. Still, if you consider the Sony as a 5 year investment... In the grand scheme of things, many of us, if we really want one, (wives allowing), we can find a way.


Look for the VW90ES to be a really serious contender in our next home theater projector report - our big, annual 1080p Home Theater Comparison Report. I should note, that this year, looks like we are moving the report back, a bit, to probably late May, so that I can get out our other major report for education projectors, in mid-April. That education report's timing is more critical, needing to be more in line with school buying season, so the educators can take more advantage.

However, it also means that there will be a competitors section to this review shortly after it publishes, so you don't have to wait for the report.

To quote Kelsey Grammer (in Down Periscope) "Let's kick this pig." (which means let's see what this thing can do! OK, back in World War II, US submarines were referred to as pig boats). OK, enough trivia, and on to the Sony VPL-VW90ES, Sony's first 3D (and 2D) projector.

Sony VPL-VW90ES Special Features

VPL-VW90ES 3D Abilities

The VW90ES uses active shutter glasses, for 3D. The glasses themselves aren't bad, comfort wise, a little snug over my glasses. Future generations of active glasses will get lighter... The Sony projector has an Auto mode for 2D and 3D. Or, you can manually take 3D content and show as 2D. The VPL-VW90ES comes with two pair of active shutter glasses, each with a nice soft little black bag. The VW90ES is a quite capable 3D projector. We'll discuss how it looks doing 3D, elsewhere in this review.

Some folk are not overly compatible with active shutter glasses solutions. That method has the projector broadcasting to one eye at a time, and blanks the other eye. This seems to bother some people. I've heard from at least one person who says it gives him headaches, which he says passive glasses solutions do not. Still most people with eyes "compatible" with viewing of 3D, shouldn't have a problem. In that regard, I expect its along the lines of the Rainbow effect. It affects a significant number of people, but it doesn't bother most people enough to deter them from a single chip projector. There will be people who have more problem with this design than with passive glasses. Problem is finding projectors going the passive route. We've tested the LG CF3D, at $15,000. That's it so far.

2D to Simulated 3D on the VPL-VW90ES

This isn't the same thing as nVidia re-rendering 2D games back to 3D (ones that were originally rendered in 3D in the creation process as in - many/most). Here you are starting with basic 2D. I didn't spend a lot of time playing with it, but mostly it seems to rely on just a basic separation of the left and right image, for the entire picture, but leaving the letterbox alone. This gives the effect of the whole picture being behind the outer box of the image. And that translates to an impression of 3D, but it's not giving you legitimate depth between different objects in the picture. There are probably other things going on, but, basically I'm not dazzled by the 2D to 3D, and I'm sure not going to give up almost four times the brightness to watch something pseudo 3D. You may get the feel of 3D, but upon close inspection, the 3D depth isn't real, objects are not correctly deep.

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