For me, the single strongest suit of the VW50 is its remarkable freedom from all kinds of video noise, be it grain or dot crawl or, more tellingly, any sort of artefact caused by the technology itself. In other words, while DLP usually suffers from the rainbow effect and motion dithering and LCD suffers from visible pixel gridding, SXRD appears to present no side effects at all.
Not surprisingly this immediately helps you forge a terrifically direct connection with what you’re watching – a connection that’s then built on in spectacular fashion by the picture’s terrific sharpness. For even by full HD standards the level of texturing and total clarity in the VW50’s HD presentation is utterly outstanding.
Next to impress is the subtlety of the VW50’s rendering of colour blends, thanks to a combination of the higher pixel density afforded by the 1,920 x 1,080 chipset and some high quality video processing. Tones are also reasonably natural, despite not going the extra mile the VW100 does.
Meanwhile, watching a scene with plenty of fast motion, such as the opening space battle of Star Wars: Episode III, reveals practically no resolution loss over moving objects (the VW50’s response time is quoted at a handy 2.5ms). Furthermore, this same scene, with its space backdrop, also enjoys some convincingly deep and detailed black level response.
Dark areas perhaps look a touch greyer than on the very best £3k DLP projectors and there are occasional visible ‘brightness jumps’ when the dynamic iris does its work, but neither of these issues are seriously detrimental to your viewing pleasure.
If pushed to find more faults with the VW50, I could point to some strange dotting noise that only seems to creep in over really intense white spots in a picture, and also to the fact that the projector’s standard definition scaling is only OK versus some rival projectors. But that’s about it.
With the VPL-VW50, Sony has proved that SXRD really does have the potential to become a mass market phenomenon, serving up a scintillating performance that makes the £2,700 price tag seem almost ridiculously affordable.
Personally I’d still be tempted to try and rustle up an extra £800 so that I could get the superior JVC DLA-HD1. But if finding that much more just isn’t on the cards, the VW50 really is up there with the very best the sub-£3000 market has to offer.