Driving the SXRD chipset is a rather unusual 400W Xenon lamp, chosen by Sony for two reasons. First, Xenon lamps are scientifically proven to deliver a wider colour range than ordinary lamps, and second, its huge power handling should prove helpful in enabling the VW200 to drive really large screens.
There is one rather hefty downside to the Xenon lamp, though: its cost. A recent check for this review found replacement lamps costing you a minimum of £600 – way more than replacement standard lamps. And with a new lamp being required every 2,500-3,500 hours on average, heavy-duty users really could be looking at some pretty high running costs even after they’ve found the £8,500 necessary to buy the projector in the first place.
Heading into the VW200’s onscreen menus, the potential reasons for its price hike over its predecessor start to become easier to comprehend. For if there’s a projector out there with more features and user-adjustments, we ain’t seen it.
Frankly we don’t have the time or the sheer will to cover absolutely everything on offer, but we’ll try and give you a sense of the most intriguing stuff, starting with a new, improved dynamic iris system that claims to deliver a huge contrast ratio of 35,000:1.
Obviously getting the deepest black levels from this dynamic iris system means the projector has to ‘iris out’ considerable amounts of the image’s brightness during dark scenes. But this shouldn’t in principle damage picture quality too badly provided that the iris’s machinations aren’t too visible in the picture in the form of distracting ‘jumps’ in brightness.
Another notable inclusion is Sony’s ‘24p True Cinema’ feature for advanced handling of 24p sources, supported on the image processing front by the latest version of Sony’s Bravia Engine Pro. The Pro bit designates this to be the top level member of the Bravia Engine family, and as such it should have the processing tools to improve such picture areas as colour, fine detailing, clarity, noise reduction and scaling more substantially than any other Sony video device.
Probably the single most intriguing element of the VW200’s features, though, is its new MotionFlow system, comprising two elements: Motion Enhancement and the terrifyingly sinister-sounding Dark Insertion.
The Motion Enhancement element calculates and inserts extra frames of image data between the ‘real’ ones from a source in a bid to make motion look smoother and clearer. The Dark Insertion bit effectively adds additional dark frames between the brighter ‘real’ ones coming in from your source. Why? Because doing so supposedly recreates the sensation of watching a 24fps film presentation at your local cinema, and helps your eyes and brain process motion in the picture more naturally.