1080p Home Theater Projector
March 10, 2011
Sony's newest home theater projector is the VPL-VWPRO1, a 1080p SXRD model built for home cinema use. This successor to the HW15 brings several improvements to the table, but it is largely an evolutionary step. The VWPRO1 keeps the HW15's bright cinema mode and great contrast, improving both slightly. Good connectivity and quiet performance make the VWPRO1 easy to set up, as does its 1.6:1 zoom lens with both horizontal and vertical lens shift. An included spare lamp helps to ease the cost of upkeep.
With an MSRP of $3400, the VWPRO1 faces some stiff competition from lower-priced challengers. However, its large-screen performance is unmatched in its price bracket, making it the projector of choice for those seeking the ultimate in really big big-screen home theater.
Applications / Best Uses
In home theater, it's all about image quality. After adjustment, the VWPRO1 has a beautiful, film-like image that makes Blu-ray movies and other high quality HD content look its best. The picture is sharp and clear, though without even a hint of pixelation at even 0.8x the screen width (a typical viewing distance is 1.5x the screen width, according to THX). Detail is clear without appearing over-sharpened. Color out of the box appears slightly cool, but some adjustment brings it closer to spec. The projector's auto iris keeps black levels low in dark scenes, but even very bright scenes do not lose excessive shadow detail.
The VWPRO1 is built for use in a light-controlled theater environment. Its most notable feature is an extremely bright cinema mode, which is bright enough to pair with a 150" diagonal or larger screen under the right conditions. If you don't have a dark theater room, you could also go in the opposite direction and use the VWPRO1 on an 80" screen in your living room, creating a brilliant picture that will stand up well to ambient light.
Long zoom ranges and horizontal/vertical lens shift are common on many 1080p home theater projectors. The VWPRO1's range for both is sufficient for all but the most challenging of installation problems, though several competing projectors have greater range. The projector features a 1.6:1 manual zoom lens that can project a 120" diagonal image from 12' 2" to 19'. The lens shift has a vertical range of 2.5 picture heights and a horizontal range of .75 picture widths. This may give you enough range to use a rear shelf mount at the back of the room, a ceiling mount over the seats, or even a coffee table placement if you so desire. Each has its benefits, but ceiling and rear shelf mounting are the most commonly used, and rear shelf mounting is the most popular with do-it-yourself types. A ceiling mount can appear more professional, but a rear shelf mount has the potential to place the projector in the optical sweet spot, which helps to ensure even screen illumination.
To hit the optical sweet spot, choose a throw distance that lets you use the middle of the lens' zoom range. For a 120" diagonal image, this will be about 16'. You'll also want to minimize the use of lens shift, thus allowing the image to beam straight out from the projector and evenly illuminate the screen. Using the middle of the zoom range knocks about 12% off of maximum lumen output, but with a projector as bright as the VWPRO1 you should have a few lumens to spare.