Sony VPL-VW100 SXRD Video Projector Part I Measurements


All measurements were made on my 78-inch wide, 16:9, Stewart Studiotek 130 screen. As noted above, some of our measurements, particularly those relating to the projector's color accuracy, must wait for Part II. But a number of measurements, made now, are not likely to be affected much if at all by a color temperature change.

For much of my viewing of the projector during this Part 1 cycle, I was very conservative in my Contrast control settings. (For the terminally curious, I used Cinema mode with the contrast set to 57, the brightness to 55, and Gamma 1, though there's no guarantee that these settings will be appropriate with a different sample). At these settings, the peak contrast (full field 100IRE white/video black) measured 5660. The peak full field white was 11.34 foot-Lamberts, the video black an astonishing 0.002fL—the lowest I have ever measured, and near the minimum sensitivity of my Minolta LS-100 light meter.

Subsequently, I found that the Contrast control could be raised to 80 in some situations without obvious adverse effects on the projector's performance—at least on the standard test patterns. (The corresponding Brightness setting was 50—curiously, these just happened to be the Cinema Mode default settings).

I also measured the contrast in the corners of the image with the Advanced Iris in Auto mode. As you can see from the average shown below, those slightly lighter corners were measurable as well as visible.

Peak contrast: Contrast control at 57

Advanced Iris: Auto On Off
100 IRE full field (fL) 11.34 7.054 11.13
Video black(fL) 0.002 0.003 0.008
Peak contrast 5660:1 2351:1 1391:1

Peak contrast: Contrast control at 80

Advanced Iris Auto Corners (average)
100 IRE full field (fL) 15.90 9.98
Video black (fL) 0.002 0.0023
Peak contrast 7950:1 4339:1

Compare these numbers with the best results I obtained in my review of the Sony QUALIA 004 on the same screen:

Iris 2, Low lamp mode
100 IRE full field (fL) 13.22
Video black (fL) 0.006
Peak contrast 2203:1

The VPL-VW100 also had top-rate resolution. In either HDMI or component, the Luminance (black and white) bandwidth extended to the 37.1Mhz limit of both 1080i and 720p sources, and the chroma (color) bandwidth kept up as well.

Overscan (with the Over Scan control Off) measured less than 1.5% on all sides (and more often than not, 0%) on all sides in either HDMI or component in either 720p or 1080i, increasing marginally to 2% (on the right side only—under 1% elsewhere) in 480i and 480p. Turning the Over 3-5%-useful mainly in situations where there is noise from the source material at the very edge of the image.

I did see some pixel misalignment in the VPL-VW100's image, amounting to about 1 pixel width, worst case, in both red and green. It varied slightly from one part of the image to another, but was clearly visible from close up both at the center and at the perimeter. I have seen similar errors from other projectors—some of them much more expensive than the VPL-VW100. With a single chip design, this must be the result of chromatic aberration in the lens, or some other aberration in the optical path. In this case, it could be due to convergence errors in the three SXRD panels, chromatic aberration in the lens, or both. The only time I ever noticed this from my normal viewing distance—just barely and not always—was with white titles on a black background.

The de-interlacing and scaling performance of the VPL-VW100 surprised me, since the SXRD rear projection sets I measured recently weren't stellar performers in this respect. On the Faroudja test disc, the rapidly moving pendulum test, looked fine, with only slight jaggies visible at the transition. The waving flag was very good to excellent; I only saw an occasional jagged edge, and then only because I was looking closely for it. The fast moving sports images were free of obvious jagged edges.

But the projector did not fully capture the (unflagged) 3-2 pulldown pattern. The disadvantage here is that the projector may exhibit artifacts on a DVD that does not carry the appropriate digital "flags" indicating that it is sourced from film and not video. The projector only offers Auto and Off for its film mode; in the case of an improperly flagged DVD, you would need an On position to engage the VPL-VW100's 3-2 film mode.

Mixed content (film over video and video over film) performed poorly in the Auto position, but were acceptable with the film mode Off. And bad edit detection worked well.

On the HQV Benchmark DVD, the Sony did well on the jagged edge tests, earning a Good (but not quite Excellent) grade. It sailed through the detail test, and its noise reduction was very effective on the noise tests, particularly in High, where it reduced visible noise without excessively softening of the image. And it earned an excellent grade on the toughest of all the challenges on this disc—the racetrack bleacher test.