3D Projectors – Sony VPL-VW90ES Projector – Got a "Live one" – First Look Review


VPL-VW90ES - 2D and 3D Projector

I’m back in 3D projector heaven, thanks to the arrival of the Sony VPL-VW90ES, Sony’s $10,000 replacement for the VW85.  The VW90ES brings you 3D in a package claiming 1000 lumens.  It doesn’t deliver on all of them, coming up typically short (few companies hit their claims).    No matter, here’s a taste of what I’ve learned.

First, no question about it, with the same setup, this Sony VPL-VW90ES, was significantly brighter than the JVC DLA-RS60 we had here a couple of weeks ago.  Of course that projector was expected to be brighter than the Sony VW90ES, since it claimed 1300 lumens.  We sent it back thinking we got a bad one, but so far, still waiting on JVC for another.  I kept the screen size small so far, for 3D viewing, to about 80″ diagonal, for 3D viewing, and it wasn’t bright, but it was definitely good enough for some really impressive viewing.  I’ve yet to see if the Sony’s bright enough to fill my 106 inch screen (same Carada Brilliant White surface, up in the theatre. (1.4 gain).

Actually, I’m not hopeful.  Oh, it will likely be adequate with a nice, new lamp, but after 1000 hours on the bulb…  Brightness is going to be a concern with all 3D capable projectors until the manufacturers start mostly tripling the typical brightness of today’s home theater projectors.  The Sony’s brightest measurement was just about 800 lumens.

But, the Sony is first, and foremost a 2D projector, and while I’ve watched only minutes, so far, in 2D, it seems to be very much like my recollections of the VW85, but a bit brighter.  And that’s a very good thing (especially for 3D).  Black levels are again, very “ultra high contrast” and while  still not a match for the JVC competition, the 90ES should pretty much be able to hold it’s own with all but a very few of the other ultra high contrast projectors.

Nothing wrong with the Sony’s blacks, so if the roughly 50% brightness advantage (measured) of the Sony (compared to the JVC)  turns out to be accurate, I do believe most people wanting 2D and 3D, will opt for the Sony over the JVC, with sheer horsepower for 3D trumping a black level advantage.  Of course, if the JVC’s turn out to be brighter than our first look… meantime, there have been mentions by owners of RS50 and RS60 (or their HD series equivalents), on the web also reporting low brightness measurements.  We’ll get it all sorted out.

I digress.  If we forget about the 3D for a moment, and you want to learn a whole lot more about the VW90ES, try our full review of the Sony VW85 last year.   The VPL-VW90ES review will publish next week – target date is March 14th!

That’s it for now.  Got to finish writing up the Runco LS-10d review.  -art

PS.  Although 3D is still rough around the edges, I have to tell you I’ve been watching some spectacular and interesting 3D content of late.  I’ll recommend the Blu-ray 3D Tahiti disc.  Not just great looking footage, but lots of surprising high quality 3D graphics you would never expect.  Very cool.  As to the surfing shots, try standing 4 feet from the screen with your glasses on… whoa!

News and Comments

  • John H


    This is a little off topic because I am not looking for a 3D projector. I have read yuor reviews of the LG CF181D and the InFocus Sp 8602. I have had the IF 7205 for several years and am looking to uphrade to 1080p and wil choose one of these two.

    My room is 21 X 14 with no ambient light and shooting on a 110″ screen. I primarily watch sports and movies via either DVD or Blu Ray.

    Should I be concerned that the 8602 is discontinued? Or will the LG be too bright for my 110″ screen.

    If you have time to answer I would appreciate the knowledge.


    • John H.

      I don’t get concerned about recently discontinued projectors. That said (I hadn’t noticed that the 8602 was discontinued). Therefore, if I had concerns it would be is InFocus exiting the home theater market to concentrate on the biz and edu markets (easily 10x the size). Also InFocus was taken private, in the last two years. But the guy who bought it, founded eMachines which he sold to (I think it was HP?). bottom line, that guys’ got enough money to launch a few projector companies… so InFocus probably isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.

      I certainly would personally choose the InFocus. Though I like the LG, you’ll get better blacks, superbe skin tones, etc… And that dlp look and feel… (richer dark tones without over the top, is one way I like to describe the DLP difference.

      I don’t watch sports in the dark… If you do, I still wouldn’t consider the LG too bright for sports unless you’ve combined it with some screen with 3 or 4 gain…

      I haven’t worked out the numbers, but my guess is that the LG in brightest mode, at 110 inches on a normal screen is still less than 1/3 or 1/4 the brightness of a plasma TV…

      Turn on a light – you can see your friends that way, and hold conversations. That’s how to view sports. for movies – there’s always low power, but, despite the brightness of the LG, you are still in the normal range of brightness recommendations for, say a real movie theater. And by the time you lamp is really old, it will be dimmer than the average theater… certainly in the movie modes.

  • Joe


    I’m a home theater enthusiast – and can’t wait for reliable high quality 3D at a reasonable price. From my experience watching IMAX 3D versus traditional theater 3D (Dolby Digital and Real 3D), there is no comparison. The Real 3D effect is not as bright and I get a bit of a headache. My understanding is that Real 3D uses a filter and a flickering image that your polarized glasses filter (hence half as bright), where as IMAX beams 2 projectors with two different images that your polarized glasses filter (no flicker).

    It seems to me that the most practical way for high quality home theater at a reasonable price is a single unit player, with 2 beams projecting from it. Is there any talk of that in the future?


    • Hi Joe,
      We actually reviewed a projector like that, the LG CF3D it has essentially two projectors inside – two 3 panel LCoS setups, which end up combined and fired out a single lens. It’s $15K and more designed for commercial use than for home, but it claims 2500 lumens and comes fairly close, which means it’s the only thing around so far, that has a half way bright image. Black levels leave much to be desired. -art

  • Drexler

    Hi Art,

    Could you elaborate a bit about the 2D differences between the VW90 and VW85? Are they more or less equivalent? Would you say the VW85 has a distinct PQ advantage over the VWPro1/HW20 model?



    • Hi Ted
      Hard to say between the 85 and the VW90ES, since I’m in new rooms, with new screens, walls, everything. I do believe there is a slight, visible improvement overall in black level performance, which will make a little difference, but overall, the 90ES seemed very much like the 85, but brighter, doubly so, since I don’t have a screen near as big as my old 128″ Firehawk, until my long overdue screens from Stewart arrive. As to the difference between the VWPro1/HW20a and the VW85, yes, I believe that difference is still rather significant, and it’s due to a noticeable difference in blacks. The 90ES after Mike got done with it was pretty great looking, the Pro1 did really well, but definitely not the same. It’s a bigger price jump though, this year, from a Pro1 to a 90ES than from the HW15 to the 85. -art

  • It´s all 3D now, but I think I will wait a bit till the prices comes down…and they will come down sooner rahter than later. And the sizes of 3D projectors as well. In a meanwhile Im happy with my current 1080p projector, even if its not 3D. Im bit tempted tho since it´s Sony and I have ONLY POSITIVE experiences with Sony (3 videocameras, 2 laptops, one projector ect. so far)
    btw, about 3D in general, some say it “kills” the movies (more “affects” to replace the content), some say it only extends them…I say art is never about technology so…