Sony VW600ES vs Runco X-200i
It's easy to say that the VW600ES is superior to 1080p projectors that cost a fraction of its $14,999 price. But how does the VW600ES fare against something in its own price class?
The Runco XtremeProjection X-200i is a 1080p projector built for the custom installation and specialty design market. This boutique projector also sells for $14,999 with the standard lens through authorized Runco dealers. Runco has a reputation for building some of the finest projectors available at any price. How it stacks up against Sony's new 4K powerhouse?
The Runco X-200i is a beast of a projector. It is clad in an all-metal black chassis and it weighs nearly 60 pounds, about double the size and weight of the VW600. The centrally-mounted lens is interchangeable, and Runco offers lensing options with throw ratios between 1.85:1 to 4.00:1. It produces 1430 lumens after calibration and uses a single-chip DLP light engine with an all-RGB color wheel. It lacks many of the user-friendly features found on today's more consumer-oriented models, and is clearly designed to be professionally installed and calibrated. As such, you won't find features like powered lens adjustments, extensive zoom and lens shift, lens memory, frame interpolation, or smart sharpening on the X-200i.
The most noticeable similarity between the images of the X-200i and VW600ES is color. Both projectors are capable of producing near-perfect color, and any differences between them can be chalked up to variances in the individual calibrations rather than inherent differences in the projectors themselves. Neither projector has any obvious flaws in the color gamut or gave us any difficulty during calibration.
Perhaps the biggest image quality difference, though, is the sheer amount of detail produced by the VW600. Placed head-to-head against the X-200i, the VW600ES clearly has the more detailed image. This is true even without the benefit of the VW600's Reality Creation system, and turning it on only increases this perception.
Digital noise. The X-200i lacks an effective noise reduction feature. In sources with a moderate to high level of noise, that noise is more apparent on the X-200i than on the VW600. The X-200i has a noise reduction control that defaults to zero, but runs up to 200. At 200, noise is eliminated but the picture quality is substantially softened to the point of being unwatchable. Pushing the control up to just 50 produces a limited reduction of noise but already begins to impact image sharpness. We found the noise reduction feature on the X-200i of limited use, and noise to be a distracting artifact on many sources.
Light output. Both the X-200i and the VW600ES produce about 1300 lumens in their video-optimized modes, but the VW600ES's light output is highly variable while the X-200i is more or less fixed. The X-200i has a 1.3:1 lens, so it does not lose a significant amount of light due to zoom. On the other hand, the VW600ES can lose up to 30% of its light by using the telephoto end of its zoom lens. The X-200i lacks a low power or low lamp mode, does not have any preset image modes, and has no manual or automatic iris, so it is more or less locked at its maximum output. In contrast, you can use the zoom, iris, and lamp power to reduce light output on the VW600ES by up to 72%. So while the X-200i produces roughly 1300 lumens no matter what, the VW600ES can output anywhere between 1325 lumens and 370 lumens.
The X-200i's constant high light output makes it difficult to use in rooms with small screens. On the other hand, the VW600's light output is extremely adjustable, so it is trivial to fine-tune light output to fit your needs.
Contrast. The VW600ES wins when it comes to black level. In point of fact, it's not even a contest; the X-200i's black level is one of its weakest points. Dynamic range, on the other hand, is a very close match, and the X-200i is neck and neck with the VW600ES with each projector winning the comparison in certain scenes and losing in others.
Input lag. If you are the kind of person who wants to use your $15,000 projector for video games, the X-200i's input lag of 30 milliseconds beats the pants off of the VW600's 120ms time. The difference between the two is palpable. Controls feel sluggish on the VW600ES but snappy on the X-200i.
Audible noise. The VW600ES is near-silent during use. The X-200i, by contrast, has a louder fan that occasionally resonates with the projector chassis, causing a rising and falling rattle/hum during operation.
The bottom line is that the VW600ES is a more fully-featured projector that produces a cleaner, more detailed image than the X-200i. The VW600ES has significant advantages in clarity of detail, digital noise, black level, variability of light output, placement flexibility, overall feature set, and audible noise -- not to mention the fact that it is a 4K projector and thus capable of displaying native 4K content once more of it becomes available. The Runco X-200i, on the other hand, manages to tie the VW600ES in dynamic range and maximum light output, while also having a significant advantage in input lag. Overall, in terms of pure bang-for-the-buck performance, the VW600ES is a far better use of $15,000.