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Sony Bravia VPL-VW40 SXRD Home Cinema Projector - Sony Bravia VPL-VW40
Setting the VW40 up is unusually straightforward. A single Lens button on the remote calls up a grid-based test screen, with the option to mechanically adjust the image's focus, zoom and vertical position and the levels of flexibility in the zoom (1.8x) and vertical shift departments is impressive, making the projector easily adaptable to almost any room size, really.
A search through the tidily presented onscreen menus, meanwhile, reveals a surprising amount of flexibility for such an affordable projector. Particularly key are its image presets, since these fundamentally alter the basic settings of the image. Not surprisingly, the one we got most joy out of with a selection of films was the Cinema preset - but there were a number of other bits and bobs we fiddled around with too to get things looking just right.
You should definitely pay the Cinema Black Pro memory option a visit, for instance, since in there you can find two critical features: the Advanced Iris options, and the facility to switch the lamp between low and high output. Both these features can have a considerable effect on the quality of the VW40's pictures in terms of their brightness and contrast, and you should definitely play with them at length before you settle on the configuration that pleases your eye the most.
For the record, my own preference was for Auto Iris 1 and the lamp set to low, as I felt this delivered the best combination of black level and brightness to suit my fully blacked-out room.
Within an ‘Expert Setting' submenu, meanwhile, you will also find further black level tweaks in the shape of an option to adjust a black level boosting processor, and a Gamma adjustment.
And still there's more. For a Real Colour Processing menu option allows you to adjust the hue of a specific colour without changing the whole image, and the projector ships with Image Director 3 software so that you can fine tune the projector's gamma settings to an almost infinite degree.
Of course, I suspect most home users won't bother with all of this stuff; particularly the RCP and Image Director 3 software. But their presence is sure to make the VW40 a more appealing option to installation companies, so Sony is wise to provide them.
At this point it's probably quickly worth covering some of the key things the VW40 doesn't have that the far more expensive VW200 does. And so we find the VW200 sporting an expensive Xenon lamp to produce a wider, richer colour gamut, a contrast ratio roughly double that of the VW40, and all manner of ground breaking image processing systems designed to optimise the picture for different sources.