As we’d hoped from the SXRD talk of densely packed pixels, the VW100 boasts a full HD pixel count of 1,920 x 1,080, while the innovations focussed on black level have allowed the projector to achieve a hugely promising contrast ratio of 15,000:1. This matches exactly the figure quoted by JVC for its HD1 projector – though there is one key difference. For unlike the JVC, the VW100 only achieves its impressive figure by using an automatic iris to reduce the amount of light output during dark scenes. So you only get the best black levels at the expense of a reduction in brightness.
Another interesting specification of the VW100 finds it using a 400W Pure Xenon lamp in place of the usual UHP lamp. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. On the upside, Xenon lamps are known to reproduce a wider colour spectrum, more natural skin tones and better contrast. But on the downside they cost a fortune to replace – anything up to £1000. Clearly if you’re thinking of a VW100 lasting you a life time, make sure you can afford to replace these bulbs after every few thousand hours of use.
Using the VW100 is mostly a very pleasant experience. It’s easier to set up than you might imagine with a healthy 1.8x optical zoom to adapt it to different room sizes and nicely designed onscreen menus that do a good job of separating key features from the esoteric ones. This ensures that AV novices aren’t left bamboozled by any features they don’t actually need to touch. For all you techies out there, though, there’s plenty of ‘fun’ to be had fine tuning to within an inch of their life noise reduction filters, the colour temperature, gamma levels, black levels, and so on.
So far the VW100 has pretty much oozed home cinema promise. And it happily delivers on this promise quite superbly. Particularly eye-catching straight away are its pictures’ colour vibrancy and phenomenal sharpness. Regarding the former, that Xenon lamp really does seem to extend the colour range beyond anything we’ve seen from any other projector in the VW100’s class, particularly when it comes to vivid reds and blues. Colourful titles like Kameo and Viva Pinata on the Xbox 360 thus look nothing short of radiant. But crucially the wide colour palette also plays its part in subtler moments, reproducing effortlessly, for instance, the naturalistic skin tones used throughout The Bourne Supremacy on HD DVD.