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Looking specifically at the VW90ES’s 3D tools, there are three quite surprising features. One is a 2D to 3D converter - something the JVC 3D models don’t have, but which to be honest we wouldn’t recommend that you use anyway, as no converted image will look nearly as good as a true 3D source.
Then there are options to adjust the depth of the 3D image presentation, and the brightness of the 3D glasses. The depth adjustment is quite controversial in our eyes, for it allows you to manipulate the 3D image away from the depth settled on by the film-makers when mastering the Blu-ray disc. As for the 3D glasses brightness adjustment, again it’s difficult to understand why anyone would want to leave this set to anything other than high - especially when you realise how much brightness Sony’s 3D goggles take out of the picture. More on this later.
The VW90ES additionally boasts a reasonable series of picture presets, including three 'Cinema' modes, as well as Sony’s Motionflow system for reducing judder. This can be set to high or low levels of effectiveness, or deactivated entirely. We personally didn’t use it much, but it should be said that as motion processors go, it’s actually one of the best around, at least when it comes to not generating unwanted side effects.
Interestingly, Sony went to the trouble of sending us a series of recommended settings for 3D playback on the VW90ES - which immediately raised a couple of questions. First, it made us wonder why, if the settings are that important, Sony didn’t include a dedicated 3D image preset on the projector, with all the recommended settings in place for you. And second, it felt like a slightly defensive thing to do, making us wonder if Sony was a little bit worried about what we were going to think about the VW90ES’s 3D efforts. While the first of our thoughts here definitely has merit, though, we guess the second is pure speculation, so we’ll move swiftly on.
The last thing we should consider before finally finding out if the VW90ES really delivers the goods are its physical set up tool. Which are best described as decent. The zoom, focus and vertical/horizontal image shift optical tools are all motorised, and easy to access. The level of optical zoom is a touch limited, though, and we found it hard to operate the image shifting with as much precision as we’d like. But you get there in the end.
Donning Sony’s fair to middling (in terms of comfort and ambient light blockage) 3D glasses and firing up our trusty pressing of Monsters Vs Aliens quickly became far from the 3D love-in we’d hoped for.
The first thing to hit us was just how much brightness gets taken out of the 3D picture versus the projector's 2D ones - much more, it seems, than happens with JVC's 3D projection system. This is even the case if you set the 3D glasses brightness option to High.