Sony VPL-HW10 SXRD 1080p Front Projector Reviewed

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Color fidelity overall is better than average, as the primaries are closer than those of most competitive projectors in this price range, or even many projectors costing much more. Color decoding is accurate for both SD and HD material, and grayscale tracking is also reasonably good. After a thorough calibration of the projector, the results are excellent. Colors are nicely saturated and relatively natural-looking, and skin tones look very natural. Natural objects that we are all familiar with, like tree leaves, grass and football fields all take on a very natural look, rather than appearing oversaturated and completely unrealistic, as they do on some projectors in this entry-level category.

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Chapter eight of the amazing Blu-ray transfer of Kung Fu Hustle (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) is good for evaluating both how a projector handles fast motion and for its level of shadow detail. Chapter eight is one of many fight scenes in the movie, but this one takes place at night in the courtyard of an apartment complex. In this scene, clarity of detail is excellent, fast motion is smooth and shadow detail is quite good on the Sony. The HW10's excellent shadow detail capability is a testament to its good black level performance. 

Another excellent black level test comes at the beginning of Disc Two of Planet Earth (BBC Video). This disc begins with a look into caves. People parachuting into huge caves soon find themselves in a very dark environment. Once the camera gets into the darker areas of these caves, there are some extremely challenging scenes with objects and strange cave creatures seemingly floating in black space. This is the kind of scene that typically will reveal noise in blacks due to inferior video processing and/or simply uninspiring dark gray instead of inky rich blacks. The Sony handles this adeptly, with deep and clean blacks.

Low Points
The biggest negative aspect of performance of the VPL-HW10 is the inaccuracy of the red and green primary colors. I have to give Sony credit, though, as they have improved them over the higher-end, more expensive VPL-VW60 that remains in the line from last year. The other area that could stand improvement is light output. All of Sony's SXRD projectors, even the top of the line VPL-VW200 are relatively low light output projectors. This means you need to choose the screen size very carefully. For the HW10, I would recommend nothing larger than 80 inches wide by 45 inches high.

Sony's new VPL-HW10 represents an incredibly good value in entry-level front projectors. Contrast ratio, by virtue of really good blacks, is quite good, and video processing is clean and smooth. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the VPL-HW10 has more accurate primary and secondary colors when in the Normal Color Space than last year's more expensive VPL-VW60, which is impressive. At $3,500, the Sony is a little more expensive than the Sanyo PLV-Z2000, which is about $2,600. I would recommend to anyone who can afford the price jump to make it. This is one hell of a performer in the category of affordable HDTV front projectors.

Reference Software:  Blade Runner The Five Disc Collector's Edition (Warner Home Video), Kung Fu Hustle (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) Planet Earth (BBC Video), 
Manufacturer: Sony
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HTR Product Rating for Sony VPL-HW10 SXRD 1080p Front Projector

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