I have owned the Sony VW50 and VW60 projectors for many years now, ever since the VW50 came out. I have been through many bulbs in those projectors and have always bough official Sony bulbs. These bulbs have always been available in the mid $200 range. I decided to try a non-Sony bulb this time and here is what I found out.
There are two parts to the lamp. The housing or "cage" and the bulb itself. There are third party manufacturers of both the cages and the bulbs, and you can mix and match them. Current Sony lamps use a Philips bulb. I never bothered to look at the bulb markings on my old bulbs so I don't know if Sony has used different bulbs in the past, but the last two Sony lamps I bought have Philips bulbs with identical markings on them:
Printed in ink on the bulb (symbol next to K9 is a left bracket):
note - number: 000014963 IS NOT a serial number - two official Sony bulbs have identical markings below:
TOP 268 [K9
UHP 200W 1.0
MADE IN CHINA
In doing some research on replacement bulbs, the consensus is as follows (NOTE: this is not my opinion necessarily, but what other people have said in feedback about various bulbs)
Philips: the best
Sylvania/Osram: very good
Other third party bulb manufactures: junk - run away
So I decided to order a third-party housing with a Philips lamp. Just got the lamp today - here are the markings on the lamp:
Marking on Replacement bulb from BulbAmerica (Philips version)
Printed in ink on the bulb - Note: symbol between TOP and UHP might be a letter C or a left bracket
TOP [ UHP
MADE IN CHINA
sticker on lamp:
356/90 200W 1.0
Some pictures comparing a Sony lamp with the third-party one (Sony lamp is always on the left)
The third-party cage is slightly different from the Sony cage - it has a more course wire mesh and a different material is used in the rectangular seal portion. Otherwise the cages are almost identical.
I only have a few hours on the new bulb, but so far it is behaving exactly like a new Sony bulb. Only time will tell if this bulb is any good or not - we shall see.
If you want the cheapest "good" bulb replacement, here is what you can try - get a Philips UHP 200W 1.0 P22 bulb. P22 is the bulb shape and size, 200W is max wattage, and the 1.0 reefers to the gap size. Swap out your bulb from it's housing and put the new bulb in. Philips bare bulb part number: Philips UHP 9281 356 05390
I would be very interested to know exactly what the difference between the "Sony" Philips bulb and my replacement bulb is as they are different part numbers, but I can't find any info on exact specs for Philips UHP bulbs by part number - seems very hush-hush or I just don't know where to look (likely).
I will update this as I get some more hours on this new bulb.