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Home Theater Projectors
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Sony VPL-VW10HT

Without a doubt the Sony VPL-VW10HT was the most popular home theater projector of the year 2000. It is a fine product with many attractive home theater features--good looking case design, excellent panel connectivity, almost no fan noise at all, and HDTV and EDTV compatibility.

However beyond all that its popularity is due in large part to its unique 16:9 format (1366 x 768) LCD panels. At this writing no other projector on the market has such a design, although we will see more of them as this year progresses.

When we first reviewed the VW10HT, we noted that it does not do a great job with NTSC or component interlaced signals. The onboard deinterlacing is not as good as one would hope for. So at the time, the better option for NTSC sources including DVD was to use the DVDO iScan line doubler. The resulting image was not quite as good in color accuracy and richness, but it was notably more stable and easier to watch.

Today component-progressive scan DVD players are plentiful and within most budgets. This solves the problem relative to DVD anyway. Progressive scan input bypasses the internal deinterlacer and delivers a stable picture with the richness of component video. This is a MUCH better solution for owners of this product.

Two issues remain for consideration. First, the contrast ratio on the VW10HT is low. Blacks are not black but rather dark gray and the picture lacks the snap of competing units available today. Shadows have that muddy look that has so long been associated with LCD technology. Though the 16:9 panels do indeed yield higher resolution pictures, those pictures are flawed by the lack of adequate contrast.

The second issue is the price. This product sells at street prices below $6,000. In this price range you also have the Sanyo PLC-XP18N as a serious alternative. The XP18N puts out double the light and has a spectacular 700:1 contrast ratio. Yes, it has standard XGA resolution rather than the widescreen panel. That means slightly less resolution and slightly increased pixelation for widescreen images. But picture quality has a lot more to do with image brightness and contrast than it does resolution. And the XP18N has a dazzling image that simply cannot be matched by the VW10HT.

However, if you are able to negotiate a price below $5,000 for the VW10HT and the lack of high contrast does not bother you, it is still a very good looking projector with a lot of advantages and well worth your consideration.

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