The VW60 seems pretty well served in the picture processing department. There's Sony's Bravia Engine image-boosting system for starters, with its attempts to improve colours, black levels, noise reduction, motion handling and detailing. But the projector also carries Sony's 24p True Cinema system for smoother playback of Blu-ray 1080p/24fps images, and Real Colour Processing, which lets you fine tune the individual red, green, blue, yellow, magenta and cyan elements of the picture to within an inch of their lives via a quite inspired graphical interface.
Other key adjustments you can make to the picture include various ‘Auto Iris' settings (which adjust the ‘severity' of the system that closes the iris when dark scenes are detected); the ability to turn the lamp manually between high and low settings, and finally a really sophisticated gamma adjustment arrangement, complete with supplied PC application software.
One last point well worth raising before finding out how the VW60 performs is that it's extremely easy to set up for such a sophisticated bit of kit. There's a healthy x1.8 level of optical zoom, vertical and horizontal image shifting, vertical keystone correction, and a well-judged series of picture presets to get you going right away if you don't want to bother with all the fine-tuning touches we've mentioned. What's more, all the lens adjustments can be carried out via the remote control, rather than forcing you to mess around with the usual ‘lens ring' manual focus/zoom system.
The only issue I have with the VW60's set up is that its HDMI sockets seem very ‘baggy', so that I found it difficult to get either of my normal high-quality HDMI cables to sit properly in them. I've had exactly the same problem with Sony's VW200 and VW40 models, suggesting that this is a general point Sony really needs to improve on.
Given the VW60's specification, its position in what's already proven a very engaging projector range, and the fact that it won an ‘EISA' award for best projector 2007-2008, I'm surprised to say that its picture quality doesn't actually blow me away.
Two major shortcomings for this price point in the market are immediately apparent. The first concerns the projector's colours, which for my money look slightly ‘faded' and wan versus the best available elsewhere at this money. In the Blu-ray of, um, National Treasure 2 (look, I had to watch it for work, OK?!), the supposedly rich, vibrant shots of the interior of Buckingham Palace fall rather flat. And although by playing with the RCP system I was able to marginally improve the tone of colours, I never managed to find away around this basic washed out quality.
The second problem for the VW60 surprisingly concerns its black level response. Actually, saying it's a ‘problem' is perhaps a bit harsh, as the black levels achieved aren't truly bad or anything. But the fact remains that no matter what lamp output or iris setting you use, dark scenes appear with more flattening, distracting greyness over them than you get with one or two rival models in the same price bracket.