Editors' note, April 16, 2008 The rating on this review has been lowered from 7.7 to 7.5 due to changes in the competitive marketplace.
Sony's entry-level SXRD-based front projector, the VPL-VW60, is the successor to last year's price-busting VPL-VW50. Also as a 1080p resolution projector with the same $4,999 list price, it faces stiffer competition these days with more 1080p projectors available for lower prices. Based on my findings with the company's flagship VPL-VW200, I had high hopes that the VPL-VW60 would exhibit the same kind of greatly improved color fidelity. I presumed wrong however, as primary and secondary colors unfortunately remain inaccurate. The good news is that Sony has improved its black level performance significantly and added a couple of useful features that help improve overall picture quality over the previous model. Despite a couple of performance issues, it is difficult to argue against the Sony VPL-VW60's value, as it still outperforms just about everything in its price range.
I found the VPL-VW60 stylish and elegant, especially for the price, with a sleek and sexy design. Its rounded edges and curves suggest the shape of an eye, a look first introduced by Sony with the $30,000 Qualia 004 several years ago. Finished in a glossy gunmetal gray, the VPL-VW60 is more attractive than any of its competition. It has a compact design and is light in weight, measuring 15.5 inches wide by 6.8 inches tall by 18.6 inches deep and weighing 24.3 pounds. All of the connections, as well as the Menu, Power, Lens, and four-way rocker keys, are located on one side of the chassis.
Sony's remote control is a simple, easy-to-use design. It is fully backlit with the push of the Light button on the upper left of the unit. It is slender and fits well in the hand, and the menu, rocker, and Enter buttons are all within easy thumb's reach. The internal menu system is identical to last year's VPL-VW50, and I found it intuitive and easy to navigate.
The VPL-VW60 has a large number of features, most of which are designed to help fine-tune the picture. Zoom, Focus, and Lens shift features are all electronic, which is a pleasant surprise given the price of the projector--I don't know of another projector in this price range that has those electronic adjustments. However, I do wish there was a bit more range on the vertical lens shift.
The Cinema Black Pro menu contains the settings for the Iris: Auto 1, Auto 2, Manual, and Off. I don't recommend ever using either of the Auto modes, as they shift blacks up and down depending on whether the content in the picture is bright or dark. I used the Manual mode and dropped the value down to 45 for slightly darker blacks. Settings below that dropped the light output down too low on my 80-inch wide Stewart Grayhawk RS screen.
As expected, Sony includes the usual picture modes and color temperature presets. Modes include Dynamic, Standard, Cinema, User 1, User 2, and User 3. Color temperature selections include: High, Middle, Low, Custom 1, Custom 2, and Custom 3. I used Custom 3 as it came closest to the broadcast standard color temperature of 6,500K.
A couple of new features include the Wide Anamorphic aspect ratio, which has been added for systems that integrate an outboard anamorphic lens for constant height 2.35:1 (CinemaScope) aspect ratio screens, and the Panel Adjust feature, which lets you converge the center of the screen if there are any panel alignment issues. The latter is restricted to the center of the screen, much like the static convergence controls in older CRT TVs. Far more comprehensive is Panel Adjust on the more expensive VPL-VW200, which gives you the ability to tweak the panels in zones all over the screen.