Thomas J. Norton

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 08, 2010 0 comments
Price: $3,000 At A Glance: Deep blacks • Accurate color • Superb image depth

Sony’s new BRAVIA VPL-HW15 is a reworking of last year’s VPL-HW10. At a modest $3,000 (modest as projectors go, that is), the VPL-HW15 offers a useful lineup of features and a picture that I didn’t expect at this price. With exceptional color, barely short of state-of-the-art blacks, and vivid, almost 3-D images on the best program material, it…. OK, I’m in danger of giving away the store up front. Read more to get the details.

Description
The VPL-HW15’s gently curved top echoes the look of Sony’s higher-end VPL-VW85, while the lens that recesses into a sculpted front panel does not. The controls and inputs are located on the side.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 18, 2009 0 comments
Price: $8,000 At A Glance: Superb contrast and black levels • Excellent color • Unique adjustments

It should be obvious that the cost of a great home theater projector keeps coming down. At $8,000, Sony’s new VPL-VW70 includes many features that distinguished its earlier, more expensive designs, improves on them in some important respects (particularly black levels), and brings a few new wrinkles of its own to the party.

Description
The large, relatively heavy Sony is easily the looker of this group. If you replaced its lens with a laser cannon and added a bridge bubble on top, its curvy, sci-fi-inspired shape wouldn’t be out of place swooping overhead at the beginning of Galaxy Quest II: The Wrath of Melmac.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 28, 2009 0 comments
Price: $8,000 At A Glance: Solid blacks • Accurate color • Unique adjustability • Color management system could be more effective • Superb resolution

Big Performance

The June 2009 issue of Home Theater featured a glowing report on Sony’s VPL-VW70 video projector. But as they say, time flies when you’re having fun. Building on its enviable past record in cutting-edge, high-value video projectors, Sony has just launched the VPL-VW70’s successor, the VPL-VW85.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 12, 2011 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $9,999 At A Glance: Deep, rich blacks • Accurate color • 3D-to-2D conversion • improved brightness and contrast

3D Gets Big

It seems like only yesterday that I reviewed Sony’s VPL-VW85 projector, but it was a year and a half ago (Home Theater, November 2009). Sony launches a new flagship home theater projector every year at the September CEDIA EXPO, and 2010 was no exception.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 02, 2010 1 comments
Price: $3,600 At A Glance: LED backlighting with local dimming • Excellent color, resolution, and contrast • 2D-to-3D conversion • Compromised off-axis performance

3D for You and LED Too

HDTV makers are launching new 3D sets as fast at they can design and build them, and Sony’s 3D plans are as ambitious as any. The company has four new lines of LED 3DTVs. The BRAVIA XBR52HX909, at 52 inches wide, and a 46-inch sister model are its top offerings in these sizes. These are the only Sony 3D sets with LED dynamic backlighting—or LED local dimming. Local dimming is the best technology yet developed to produce dark, rich blacks from an LCD set.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 03, 2011 0 comments
Price: $3,600 At A Glance: Excellent color and resolution • 2D-to-3D conversion mode • Middling shadow detail and off-axis performance

LCD With a Side of LEDs

When I looked over Sony’s press release at the January 2010 CES, I was a bit confused. There are 10 different 3D sets in Sony’s current lineup. The XBR-LX900 line under review here includes 60- and 52-inch models with LED edge lighting, an integrated 3D sensor, and ships with two pairs of 3D glasses in the box. Other 3D HDTVs in Sony’s other lines include either full-array LED lighting with local dimming or Dynamic Edge LED edge lighting. Sony includes the 3D sensor and glasses with some sets, while they’re extra-cost options with others. Sony offers 3D HDTVs in screen sizes ranging from 40 to 60 inches, but not every 3D line offers all of them.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 28, 2011 11 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $3,800 At A Glance: Exceptional black levels • Outstanding detail and color • Head-tilt 3D ghosting

With the growing popularity of LED backlighting for LCD HDTVs, it’s easy to forget that not all such backlighting is created equal. LEDs can be configured to provide either backlighting or edge lighting. In either case, the lighting can be steady, with image brightness dependent only on the pixels of the LCD imaging panel, which darkens the picture as the source requires. Or the lighting can be dynamic, in which the set can dim the backlighting or edge lighting from instant to instant, as needed, assisting the LCD pixels in adjusting for the optimum light output.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 29, 2001 0 comments

Sony's first Super Audio CD players were audio-only machines that did not play back DVD-Video discs. Fair enough—those machines were aimed at the top of the high-end audiophile market, and were priced accordingly. But with the DVP-S9000ES—the first DVD player to carry Sony's upscale "ES" badge—we have not only a first-class SACD player, but one priced within the reach of many home-theater enthusiasts.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 22, 2005 0 comments

At a press event in Pittsburgh, PA, last week, Sony announced two new rear-projection SXRD televisions. Previously available only in the company's upscale Qualia line, SXRD now enters a wider market. The 60-inch KDS-R60XBR1 and 50-inch KDS-R50XBR1 Grand Wega designs, at $5000 and $4000 respectively, are still priced toward the high-end, but they are now in direct competition with top-of-the-line sets using other digital display technologies.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 06, 2011 0 comments
Sony must have spent all year prepping for their press event. It was as elaborate as any Disney theme park show, much of it in 3D on a huge and super-wide screen consisting of millions of LEDs. It included a major promotion for The Green Hornet, a Sony Pictures flick that opens next week, and concluded with a performance by one of the 256 Cirque du Soleil troups now appearing on the Vegas strip.

Twenty-seven new Sony BRAVIA HDTVs were introduced. The leading character, and the new Sony flagship, will be the XBR HX929-Series, with full 3D capability and full-array local dimming LED backlighting. It's loaded with Internet features, and comes in three sizes: 65-, 55-, and 46-inches. Prices TBD. Available in March. Some of the new models also use Corning's new Gorilla Glass. It's said to be more resistant to damage than conventional glass, though I suspect you'll still want to hold off on tossing that brick at the screen during the 2012 Presidential debates.

Sony's new top-of-the-line stand-alone 3D Blu-ray player is the BDP-S780 (March, about $250). It's Wi-Fi (of course) with SACD playback as well as CD and the usual video suspects.

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