The Demo of VW85 and HW15
Ok, here is what I saw and experienced from the event. Posted in UK Avforums and edited here slightly removing some specific things related to UK Avforums.
Bear in mind that I am not a technical reviewer rather a simple user and these are my opinion only and could be quite subjective.
Let me start with saying that my intention of going to the event was checking out Sony's SXRD technology and what it offers compared to my experience with DLP only in the FP arena. I went to the event with an open mind and no bias at all.
The Facility and Environment
Room - The room was approximately 12' by 12' kind of like a square. Padded walls with light cream fabric/foam and not completely dark or like bat cave. I think in a way it was good as most of us don't have a dedicated bat cave and seeing the PJ in a similar condition helps to understand what you can expect from your own environment.
On turning off all lights it was relatively dark (not black or ideal dark.)
Screen : Stewart Firehawk grey screen. From the size it looked like a 84' to 86' size or could be slightly less. The screen is awesome for ambient light absorption and we could see the effect with some lights on where the image was still watchable. This screen has convinced me why professional screens are must for quality home cinema. I held a A4 white sheet on the screen and immediately noticed the huge rise of black levels and the image looked slightly washed out. To confirm this after coming back home I used the same white sheet in front of my blind in the same scene and it looked more blended to the blind. I could see how a grey screen can help in cutting out ambient light and lower black levels. Also the thick black borders of the screen helped to some extent to absorb some light as well as offer relative dark viewing illusion.
1. Sony S500 - This player was tuned by Phil for our viewing.
2. Sony PS3 - We also tested the PS3, but immediately noticed cartoon colours and severe black crush. Phil promptly switched the player and told us that the PS3 setting requires tuning and also explained us why calibrating the entire chain of equipments is essential.. I must say that I was impressed with Phil's knowledge and his patience in explaining things with examples and fine details. The only positive thing on the PS3 was the fast load time on BD and easy access to menu without the standard crap in the beginning. That was awesome. (note , the PS3 or any player can be calibrated with the PJ to get a fantastic image)
Projectors - HW15 and VW85
I thought my Infocus is big, but boy, these two are big as well with the VW85 slightly bigger. However they both look nice. Bothe PJs were running on low and was very quiet. We couldn't really hear the PJs considering both were running at the same time. Good stuff.
Both PJ's were preproduction models and settings were nearly out of box. Phil tuned the colour, brightness and contrast for our viewing.
Colour - Both were set to natural settings which Phil mentioned is close to D65. But not calibrated.
HW15 -Good nice, punchy colours. Bit saturated with yellows and oranges. Blue looked alright but somehow the colour was looking bit off to my eyes. But very punchy and catches your attention quickly. tHis can be calibrated for great viewing.
VW85 -This was looking better compared to the HW15. One more reason was the added contrast. Very impressed. I am sure after proper calibration it will be fabulous.
Now I know why people say that single chip DLP reigns in this aspect. My IN81 is sharper than both and hence I found the image bit soft. The HW15 was softer but the VW85 was very sharp. May be it uses a better glass lens than that of the HW15. However, when I say soft I don't mean they look very soft. Both are sharp projectors and looked perfectly natural with no edge enhancements or ringing.
Flipping between the two we found the VW85 looked much better. There is a scene in Casino Royale where Bond and Vesper gets into a car in Montenegro. The trees at the back looked very clear and detailed on the VW85 compared to that of the HW15. I checked the same scene at home on my IN81 and it was clearer than both.
One member who owns a HD100 (RS2), mentioned that the HD100 (RS2) is sharper than both. Oevrall I think they looked alright in terms of sharpness and most people will be happy until they see something sharper.
Well, I was impressed with both. I must mention here that the Screen was responsible for adding more depth to the images but that does not take away the PJs capability.
We started with HW15 and it looked great in mixed and dark scenes holding the contrast very well. I found very bright scenes to be slightly washed out kind. Dark scene contrast was very good.
Then we switched onto the VW85 - This was a different beast. All of us immediately noticed the jump in contrast and depth of image. This is a serious machine. The image looked fabulous and we all agreed that this PJ can do wonders in a completely light controlled room. Phil mentioned that contrast and black levels of VW85 could be slightly better than HD350 (RS10) but the HD750 (RS20) will beat it slightly. Even the member who owns the HD100 mentioned that contrast looks similar. But he uses a magnolia wall at home and not a Firehawk. The HD100 could be better in a similar environment.
Impressive on both. I am not sure what is the ANSI CR on these machines, but both looked great and whites in mixed scenes looked great. The scene in Iron man where the doctor is lying after being shot has a white sack below his head and the entire cave is dark. Both PJs did wonderful job in that scene in maintaining the peak whites without blown out highlights.
Black Levels and Shadow Detail
The HW10 looked quite good considering the price difference between the two. I was quite happy to see how it is holding the blacks in dark scenes like Iron man cave scene and Casino Royale dark scenes. The Screen was helping but overall I was happy and most will find it good for the money.
The VW85 again scored well ahead of the HW15. Well it should do considering the price diff. Blacks looked convincing deep and consistent. I have not seen a JVC but was very impressed. Everyone in the room agreed the added benefits the VW85 brings in but it is nearly £5500. I will be interested to see how it compares to the HD750 in this matter. In every dark scene the depth was awesome.
In terms of shadow detail, I was slightly disappointed. Phil did mention that units are not calibrated so this is not a negative as such. But in most scenes in the black areas, greys were missing with a lot of black crush. It was worst when the PS3 was connected but on switching to the S500 it was better but I would expect lot more shadow detail from a £5500 PJ. I am sure this can be improved by calibration.
The HW10 being 200 lumens more is brighter and you can see this immediately and hence at the first instance on switching between the two it appears more bright and punchy and make you feel it has more contrast. But once you start watching carefully, the VW85 looks excellent.
Both PJs have dynamic and manual IRIS. We didn't check much with the auto IRIS as we could'nt see a lot of difference but the most interesting aspect was the range of the manual IRIS. It offers a range of 1 to 100 with 1 stop per change which is great. I have been telling this lately what a manual IRIS can do and was impressed with this feature as it would allow flexibility to diff room and screen size scenarios.
I was eager to test this out and we tested this and almost immediately everyone agreed that it is terrible for film material. Supposedly it works good for sports. This is a feature which I would not look for after seeing this. I don't know the hype for it and neither I am a purist but to my average untrained eyes it looked awful.
Pixel Structure and Alignment
This is the first time I saw this technology. The pixel structure is not visible even from close distance which is good in one way but compromises slightly on sharpness. The VW85 panel was not aligned and it showed green shift on left side and red shift on right side but it was still sharper than the HW15.
NO CMS for HW15 but VW85 has got one.
The HW15 represented value for money with good features and a wonderful picture which most will like at first glance and the VW85 showing some premium stuff under its hood.
I am sure ppl who would the buy PJs like VW85 and HVC 750 will invest in room treatment to get the best out of it and I felt that with a bat cave the VW85 will deliver in spades.
This was my first viewing of SXRD and I can honestly say it is a good technology and ppl who suffer from DLP will be verty happy with this technology. Image produced is filmic and engaging.
Anyone who goes to this kind of events starts thinking should I buy or upgrade? For me, I won't upgrade now to HW15 as there is nothing I can gain in replacing my IN81. I still prefer the IN81 and DLP image to that of HW15.
VW85 - Yes as it is in a diff league but I won't have the money or the environment to enjoy. The latter is more important. Those who have both should compare with the JVC before buying.
Screen : I was impressed with the Firehawk screen. It indeeed helped to lower the black floor and cut off some anbient light. But too expensive.
Overall, a great event, great hosts and a nice evening with some nice people.
Is the HW15 using the same panels/light engine from the VW70/80
It uses the same panel as the HW10. No change in panel contrast.
Is the VW 85 using new panels of the same as the VW80
Apparently yes. The sony rep will confirm in email.
What is the panel contrast of the VW85 and HW15
HW15 - same as HW10. VW85 - Sony to confirm
When will Sony go laser + sxrd now that dlp is embracing led? Is it even on the table for the future?
Sony cannot disclose much now but they are looking at alternate light engines.
3D is coming strong will Sony adapt sxrd to work with 3D by increasing the frame rate for sxrd or is sxrd already ready for 3D?
They already have a commercial product but for home cinema users nothing in the next 1-2 years.
Would Sony consider using a 4-panel approach (one added panel for local dimming to improve native on/off and ANSI contrast)? IMHO that should dramatically improve image quality.
Sony will get back in email.
Would you mind looking into this thread and asking whether Sony could please look into this: SXRD ages badly
Sony will get back in email.
Will this projector have a CMS system at all? or you stuck like some lower models with only two color adjustments? i know a full CMS at 3000 or less is a dream.
No CMS for HW15 unfortunately.
No comment. UK MSRP is £2300 and street price will be around 10-15% lower.