Sony's SXRD technology seriously impresses us. Its VPL-VW200 projector includes it, but the only problem is that you're looking at £8,000-plus price tag. We're rather excited by the arrival of the VPL-VW40, which brings SXRD -- Sony's version of LCOS -- technology in at the vastly more agreeable price of £2,300.
The VW200 is a pretty projector and although not quite as handsome, the smaller VW40 still looks mighty fine in its distinctive elliptical shape with a large, centrally mounted lens and two-tone white and grey finish.
It hits the ground running with its connections, too, including twin HDMI support and a 12v trigger output for driving motorised screens. Given that one of the key benefits of SXRD technology is the amount of pixels it can cram into a tiny space, it's no surprise to find the VW40 sporting a 1,920x1,080-pixel count. Other on-paper specs impress too, namely a claimed contrast ratio of 15,000:1 and Sony's 24p True Cinema processing mode for enhanced playback of pure 1080p/24 Blu-ray outputs.
Although the VW40 inevitably lacks some of the truly innovative, high-end picture options found on the VW200, it still has more than enough goodies to keep your average user happy. An auto-iris feature improves black level response and there's a facility to fine-tune gamma settings via Image Director 3 PC software.
Thankfully, the key performance benefits of SXRD technology witnessed on the VW200 have translated surprisingly well down to the VW40's much lower market position. Especially striking for a £2,300 model is how sharp pictures look. With HD sources the projector ensures that not a single pixel of data goes missing between your source and your screen, delivering dramatic, often breathtaking results with footage like the Venice scenes in Casino Royale on Blu-ray.
Even better, the outstanding sharpness isn't affected by any sort of video noise at all -- be it grain, dot crawl, scaling artefacts, motion blur or 'technology' issues such as DLP's rainbow effect or LCD's wire mess effect. This perfect clarity lets you form an exceptionally direct connection with what you're watching.