Sony has been in the widescreen digital projector business longer than anyone. Starting with the original 1068x480 resolution VPL-W400Q back in 1997, Sony established its industry leading commitment to widescreen formats early in the game. Since that first very popular model Sony has produced a series of higher resolution WXGA models, including the VPL-VW10HT, the VPL-VW11HT, and in 2002 the VPL-HS10 Cineza, and the VPL-VW12HT, each delivering better contrast and video processing electronics than previous models.
The competition in widescreen digital projectors has become intense, driving prices down across the board. In terms of price, the VPL-VW12HT goes head to head with the Sanyo PLV-70. The next step up in price and performance would be to the InFocus Screenplay 7200. And Sony's own HS10 delivers reasonably close to VW12HT performance at a fraction of the price. Comparison notes on these projectors will be offered at the end of this review.
The VW12HT is rated at 1000 ANSI lumens of brightness, and 1000:1 contrast. It features three 1.35" polysilicon LCD panels with MicroLens array. Physical resolution of the panels 1366x768. It is powered by a 200-watt UHP lamp with a lamp life of 2000 hours in standard operating mode, and 3000 hours in a reduced light output mode Sony calls "Cinema Black."
Compatibility: The VW12HT will accommodate NTSC, NTSC 4.43, PAL, PAL-M, PAL-N, and SECAM. Signal compatibility includes 480p, 540p, 575p, 720p, 1080i, and computer resolutions from VGA to SXGA.
Connector panel: The connector panel, located on the left side of the unit as you are looking at it from the rear, has four video inputs-one composite video, one S-video, and two sets of five RCA jacks for HDTV, component video and computer inputs. For input cables that have BNC connectors, BNC to RCA conversion adapters (available at Radio Shack) solve the problem. There is no DVI input on this unit, which these days is a rather notable omission on a projector in this price range.
Zoom lens: The standard projection lens is a manual 1.2x zoom. For a 16:9 diagonal image size of 100", the throw distance range is from 10'8" to 12'4". Sony recommends clearance of at least one foot in all directions for heat dissipation. If the standard lens doesn't fit your needs, there are two optional projection lenses; one is a long throw with 1.5x zoom range, and the other is an extra wide angle with 1.1x zoom range. Throw distance calculations in our Projection Calculator are based on the standard lens.
Remote control: The remote control unit is one of the best we've seen--it is easy to use and the projector responds immediately from a distance of at least 30 feet. A key feature of the remote is six Video Memory buttons that let you instantly select up to six programmable calibration settings for different types of material you may be viewing.