Regular readers will recall that we tested - and were very impressed by - the first Sony projector to use the brand's new SXRD technology. In fact, only a couple of things stopped us from giving the VPL-VW100 a rave review and that was its north-of-£5,000 price and the cost of those replacement Xenon lamps at a grand a piece.
This is why we're tickled pink to be faced today by a step-down SXRD model, the VPL-VW50, which can be yours for the massively more reasonable price of £2,700. What's more, this one uses a ‘normal' 200W Ultra High Pressure lamp rather than the VW100's expensive Xenon one, making long-term running costs much more affordable.
It has to be said that ditching the Xenon lamp will have some impact on the VW50's performance, as Xenon lamps are known to produce a wider colour spectrum, more natural skin tones and greater contrast. But hopefully the reduction in performance standards will only be relatively slight and therefore easy to live with in the context of the VW50's massively smaller price.
The VW50's bodywork is arguably superior to that of the VW100, for it combines the same sort of elegance in its glossy cream finish and oval shape, but makes itself more living room friendly by occupying a smaller footprint.
The good first impressions are reinforced by some comprehensive connectivity that includes two 1080p-capable HDMIs, a component video input, a D-Sub jack for PC connection, a 12V trigger jack for automatically kick-starting an electronic screen, and an RS-232C control port so that the VW50 can be incorporated into a full AV system. For the record, these jacks differ from those of the VW100 in that the VW100 had one HDMI and one DVI rather than two HDMIs, as well as an extra Ethernet input for network integration.
In terms of other specification comparisons, the VW100 and VW50 share a seriously high, claimed contrast ratio of 15000:1, with the VW50 actually outgunning the VW100 on brightness, quoting 900 ANSI Lumens versus its bigger brother's 800.