For the past 3 or 4 years I’ve had a Sony Cineza HS-51 front projector and loved it. There’s something special about having a movie theatre in your living room. The HS51 is 720P, which from mostly NTSC upconverted sources, has been sufficient. With HD-DVD and Bluray I got to see the quality of 720P HD but wondered if 1080P would be noticeably better. A few months ago the lamp started going and I ordered a replacement. It was like having a new projector – bright and clear. However, about a month later I got home from a trip, turned it on and the screen had blue splotches all over it. Something failed, probably the LCD panel.
Which brings me to the VPL-HW10… I have to say that I have the coolest wife in the world because since the failure of the HS-51 she’s been on board to get a new projector as soon as we could swing it. Friday I ordered the Sony Bravia SXRD 1080P VPL-HW10 direct from Sony, but this time I added the 5-year warranty. So let’s get on with the unboxing…
I ordered it direct from Sony because they had free shipping and could guarantee delivery by Christmas eve. The price was $3,499 for the projector, $329 for the 5 year service plan plus sales tax. The total was around $4,100. Comparing that to the HS-51, which I also purchased direct from Sony, it was about the same price minus the service plan. Learned my lesson there.
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The HW10 has the shiny plastic dust and fingerprint collector that is so popular these days among consumer electronics. The top comes covered in plastic wrap.
The inputs are all on the side rather than being on the back. This was a minor issue for my setup because this side faces out to the room. It would actually have been worse if they had been on the other side because then the on/off switch would be harder to reach.
The inputs are 2 x HDMI, Input A, S-Video, Composite, HD Component, and a remote connector. A quick look of the docs doesn’t give much details about the Input A but it looks like a VGA-type, or what the remote is. Neither is important in my setup.
I compare the new HW10 with my previous HS51 because it’s an easy frame of reference for me. Assuming that you don’t have any experience with the HS51 let me explain that it was/is an awesome projector. If not for the blue splotches, I wouldn’t have replaced it for a while yet. One fear I had in purchasing the HW10 was that it wouldn’t be a noticeable jump from the HS51. How bad would it be to shell out the dough for the upgrade and not be able to tell the difference between 720P and 1080P?
One of the stat comparisons concerned me. The HS51 is listed as 1200 lux and the HW10 is listed as 1000 lux. However the HS51 claims 6,000:1 contrast ratio while the HW10 claims 30,000:1. But the only thing that matters is how it looks to your eye.
Getting the comparisons going, the HW10 is larger:
The newer remote has the added ability to adjust the wide/zoom mode even with an HDMI source. In the HS51 this option didn’t work from HDMI. It’s a welcome addition to be able to zoom into 4:3 letterboxed material so that it fills the 16:9 frame. The HW10 also has a screen saver mode (called pic mute) which blacks out the image but leaves the lamp on. It is nice to finally be able to protect from burn in during a bathroom break or a phone call. The new remote is the taller one on the left:
The HW10’s lens is centered in the unit where the HS51’s lens is more to the side. This can be helpful when trying to place the projector in your theatre room. I prefer it.
In my home theatre setup I need the projector to be placed off to the side of the room. Therefore lens shift was a necessary feature. Lens Shift provides a way to physically adjust the lens left or right (and up and down) using a flywheel, which optically moves the picture back and forth on the screen. Check out this illustration of my room setup – click to enlarge:
One unfortunate surprise is that as I was setting up the HW10 I noticed in the manual that it only has a 25% horizontal lens shift, where my older projector had a 50% shift. I didn’t realize this before I ordered it. The significance is that the image can only be moved 25% of the screen width left and right. That’s not enough to be able to do what’s being shown in the image above. The projector has to be moved as well, which as I said, doesn’t work in my room.
After some experimenting, the end result is that I used the maximum amount of lens shift which left about 2 feet (on the screen) to go. Â I move the media tower (containing the projector) a foot further away from the side wall. Then I made up the last foot by also angling the projector a tiny bit. This does cause a slight amount of keystone but it is barely noticeable.
Here’s a closeup of the lens shift wheels on the top front of the HW10. You can also see that right out of the box the unit is already starting to collect dust and fibers.
How does the picture look? Is the 1080P better than the 720P? Part 2 covers the projector placed in my setup, shows what I do for a screen and has high res photos that show the amazing picture quality.