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With competition at the quality end of the projection market getting ever more fierce, Sony’s VPL-VW80 arrives at a crucial time for the brand’s exclusive SXRD technology. For with a pretty high estimated retail price of £4,995, it’s going to have to go some to make its mark against much cheaper high-spec DLP models like the InFocus IN82 and IN83, or JVC D-ILA models like the HD1 and HD100, not to mention JVC’s imminent new D-ILA models, the HD350 and HD750.
It’s just as well, then, that the VW80 gives a very good account of itself on the specification front – especially with its inclusion of the intriguing high-end MotionFlow processing first discovered on Sony’s flagship (not counting the stupid money and now aging Qualia 004) VPL-VW200 projector.
MotionFlow on the VW80 comprises two elements, both individually adjustable within the onscreen menus: Film Projection, and Motion Enhancement. Of these the latter is the most straightforward, as at heart it’s simply Sony’s take on the idea of inserting extra, newly calculated frames of image data to make movement in the picture look more fluid and sharp.
Film Projection is much less straightforward, but by and large what it tries to do is insert blank, dark frames of image data in a bid to recreate the sensation of watching a film in the cinema. In doing so it boosts contrast and, interestingly, reduces the appearance of judder, since it gives your eyes time to blend one frame into the next.
Also good to find is Sony’s Real Colour Processing, a remarkably sophisticated toolkit for fine-tuning colours to within an inch of their lives. The way it works is by letting you adjust the red, green, blue, yellow, magenta and cyan colour elements in the picture on an individual basis, using an adjustable ‘pie-chart’ interface that allows you to expand a particular colour’s range and/or position in the colour spectrum.
While you’re using it, this system cunningly knocks out of the image you’re watching every other colour than the one you’re trying to adjust. And so if you’re tweaking the red element, the picture is black and white except for where there’s a red element in the picture. This may look rather creepy at times, but it’s a truly inspired way of allowing you to see precisely what impact your adjustments are having.
We should say that we don’t recommend messing about with RCP unless you’re pretty confident about what you’re doing, but that doesn’t make it any less worthwhile as a feature.