The VPL-HW10 delivered very good overall picture quality, with deep black levels and relatively accurate color. That said, primary colors could have been a bit better, and we noticed some artifacts with 1080i sources, but given its price this projector is superb. It easily outperforms the somewhat less expensive Sanyo PLV-Z2000, for example.
During the setup phase, I settled on using the Standard picture mode for my evaluation. I started with the Low color temperature, which measured so close to the broadcast standard that I suspect Sony may have precalibrated my review sample. In any case, the bottom end was still off, so I corrected that by using the Custom color temperatures with their grayscale controls. I also used the Normal color space setting, as it came much closer to the ATSC specifications for the primary colors of red, green, and blue than the Wide setting. Unfortunately, red and green are still significantly off, and there is no way to correct them. For my full picture settings, check out the bottom of this blog post.
Overall color is better than average though, as the primaries still are closer than with most projectors in this price range. Color decoding was excellent, and grayscale tracking was also solid. The result was nicely saturated colors with highly natural skin tone rendition. Primary colors looked relatively good. For example, leaves and grass looked realistic rather than hyperrealistic or neon-looking, which is how most competing projectors make these natural objects look.
Blacks were compelling and deep as we expect from SXRD. There was also precious little noise in very dark material. Video processing was reasonably good, and the unit passed both film and video deinterlacing tests. I did notice some jaggies on the video-based test, so processing wasn't perfect by any means. As usual, I recommend leaving the company's DRC processing turned off for most high-quality sources.
Chapter 8 of the amazing Blu-ray transfer of Kung Fu Hustle is great for evaluating black level performance as well as a display's handling of fast motion. In a fight scene that takes place at night in the courtyard of an apartment complex, clarity of detail was excellent, and fast motion was smooth. Shadow detail was also very good, which is a testament to the VPL-HW10's good black level performance.
One of the toughest black level tests I know of is the beginning of Disc Two of Planet Earth, which begins with sky divers jumping into huge caves. Once the camera gets into the depths of some of these caves there are some extremely challenging scenes with virtually all black surrounding the close-up of cave animals and other objects. This is where you would be able to see real issues with black level performance, and the Sony passed this test with flying colors. So to speak.
|Before color temp (20/80)||6250/6550||Good|
|After color temp||6500/6575||Good|
|Before grayscale variation||+/- 65||Good|
|After grayscale variation||+/- 132||Average|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.616/0.33||Average|
|Color of green||0.297/0.564||Average|
|Color of blue||0.148/0.057||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Y||Good|
|480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps||Pass||Good|
|1080i video resolution||Pass||Good|
|1080i film resolution||Pass||Good|