Regular readers might – if they’re really scary! – remember that I wasn’t a fan of the Film Projection-like modes on Sony’s high-end VPL-VW200 projector. But curiously they seem to work more effectively on the VW80 – possibly because the image isn’t as innately rich and bright, and so doesn’t tend to exaggerate the inevitable flicker that accompanies the insertion of ‘blank’ frames.
The Film Projection modes are still a matter of taste, I suspect, but I’d certainly recommend you at least experiment with them on the VW80, as they can, as billed, reduce the impression of motion blur as well as boosting black levels.
In fact, I should probably take this argument further, to stress that you should try and audition the Film Projection modes in action before you buy a VW80. For their effect appear so critical a part of explaining the VW80’s price that your reaction to them really has to be a major part of your buying decision.
Yet more good news concerns the way the VW80’s unexpectedly large, really rather lovely gloss-black body soaks up noise from the projector’s cooling fans, especially if you follow our lead and have the lamp set to its black-level boosting Low mode.
While the VW80 delivers some noticeable steps forward for SXRD technology, though, we did also feel that in a couple of areas it fails to deliver the goods quite as brilliantly as we’d hoped given its cost.
For instance, when there’s a picture containing quite a mix of bright and dark material, black levels can suddenly look a touch washed out and flat, possibly as the advanced iris system struggles to pick the right brightness ‘pitch’ for such a mixed image. Also, while colours are actually clearly more vibrant and fulsomely saturated than those seen on previous cheap SXRD models, they still to my eyes fall a little short of the aggressive dynamism possible with the best DLP technology.
The VW80 is an excellent projector in itself, introducing Sony’s fascinating MotionFlow system to a lower price point, delivering SXRD’s best black levels yet, and reaffirming SXRD’s prowess in the sharpness and lack of video noise departments.
Whether it truly justifies its £5k price tag, though, is another matter. It largely depends on just how much store you put in its MotionFlow system, to which end I strongly recommend that you try one before you buy one. For me personally, while MotionFlow has certainly grown on me since I first saw it, it doesn’t quite do enough – especially with the flawed Motion Compensation element - to persuade me that the VW80 is genuinely £2,000 better than, say, the JVC HD1.