And so to the moment of truth. Do all these features and fine specs justify the VW80’s £4,995 price tag? Actually, we’re not entirely sure they do.
Let’s start with the good news, though. For as usual with SXRD technology, the first thing you notice with the VW80 when watching HD is how remarkably sharp and detailed pictures look. It does full justice, for instance, to the immaculate Blu-ray transfer of No Country For Old Men, portraying the iconic Texan landscape with outstanding clarity and three-dimensionality, while also creating a greater sense of immediacy and connection with closer subjects such as – gulp – Javier Bardem’s truly terrifying hitman. It’s weird how much more menacing those dead-fish eyes become when you can see them more clearly!
As usual, the extremely small pixel pitch of the SXRD chipset means that all this lovely detail is delivered without the slightest trace of visible pixellation in the image, even with our noses pretty much pressed up against our 120in screen.
The VW80’s fast 2.5ms response time helps the sensation of clarity too, as rapid motion only suffers very slightly with blurring. And you can even get rid of this if you call in the MotionFlow Motion Enhancement mode.
However, I’m not sure I’d advise you to do this. For during our tests I found the Motion Enhancement system caused the picture to glitch and shimmer at times as the processing struggles to keep up with the sheer amount of motion it’s having to deal with.
Getting back to the good stuff, the VW80’s colours are much better than we’re accustomed to seeing on all SXRD projectors bar the Xenon lamp-carrying VW200. After some gentle tweaking of the red and magenta levels in the Real Colour Processing menus to stop skin tones looking orangey, colour tones look generally natural and exceptionally subtle in terms of blends and tonal shifts.
The VW80 deserves major Kudos, too, for its black level response. To my eye this even outperforms the black level of the flagship VW200, in terms of both raw black level depth and the stability of dark areas. Not surprisingly, this helps the VW80 produce dark scenes such as the one where No Country For Old Men’s Llewelyn waits in his hotel room for the assassin to come to his door with superb authority, authenticity and scale.
For the record, we achieved the most natural black level response from the VW80 with the Advanced Iris set to Auto 1, and the Film Projection option set to Mode 2.