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The usual way of things in the AV world is that when a second generation of a product gets launched, it's cheaper than the first. Or at worst, the same price. Yet with the replacement for its critically acclaimed VPL-VW100 projector, the VW200, Sony has actually upped the price from £7,000 to a cool £8,500. Yowza! Here's hoping, then, that the VW200 has enough extra picture quality or features - or both - to make such a price hike palatable.
There's certainly no denying that it looks a million dollars. With its striking gloss-blue top and side panels wrapped around a diamond shaped and sumptuously metallic front plate, it's quite possibly the prettiest projector ever. The only downsides are that it's perhaps rather large and intimidating for a living room installation, and also extremely heavy - so if you're going to ceiling mount it, make sure you get it done professionally!
After this impeccable start, though, the VW200 surprisingly blots its copy book by only providing two HDMIs - surely at this price it should have three? To make matters worse, you also only get one set of component jacks when some projectors costing a fraction as much manage two. Hmm.
On the upside, both HDMIs are built to the latest v1.3 specification, and will take the ‘pure' 1080p/24fps feeds now available from the vast majority of Blu-ray players. Plus you get a PC jack, a 12V trigger output for driving a motorised screen, an RS-232 port for hardwired remote control, and an Ethernet port for network connection.
As with its VW100 predecessor, the VW200 uses Sony's proprietary SXRD technology. This is essentially a refinement of Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCOS) technology; a fast-response system also notable for its ability to cram ridiculous amounts of pixels onto extremely small chipsets. As a result, it comes as little surprise to find the VW200 claiming a full HD 1,920 x 1,080 resolution.
In fact, Sony claims to have got the pixel ‘pitch' (how far the pixels are apart) down to an incredibly small level for the VW200, a fact which should mean you get a perfectly smooth picture that doesn't suffer with ‘blanking lines' or the so-called chicken wire effect, whereby the structure of the projection panels becomes manifest in the final picture.