Yesterday in Part 1 I covered the unboxing and reported that the HW10 is awesome. Today I’m going to continue the review and talk about my home theatre setup and show some high quality photos of the amazing 1080P picture projected on my wall.
The photo to the left shows the new HW10 on the top with the older HS51 below it. You can see that the media tower is now about a foot away from the wall. As I said yesterday, I had to move the tower to help compensate for the narrower lens shift. I’m not trilled with this solution, but it’s better than centering the tower behind my couch or doing some kind of ceiling mount. The tower remains a subtle element in the room.
Why no ceiling mount?
Some people have asked “why not do a ceiling mount?” Â In a dedicated theatre room it might be ok. But for me it would require a bunch of ugly wires running up the wall and across the ceiling. I’m also not sure you can run HDMI cables that long. Certainly it would require expensive custom HDMI cables.
My setup explained…
- The brand new VPL-HW10 projector. The lens is on the right side of the picture (see arrow) and the throw is about 20 feet.
- The older Sony Cinza HS-51. Eventually it will be sent to Sony for service. I’m not sure where it will go once it’s fixed.
- WiFi router and cable modem which is hidden from view. These days it’s moreÂ importantÂ to have your router next to your home entertainment center. Computers typically have wifi but at the moment most home media equipment only has wired ethernet.Â
- 5.1 Amplifier and video source switcher. This cheaper sony model has 2 HDMI ins and 1 out plus switches component video. I typically go cheaper on sound. I’d like to eventually get a 7.1 system with more HDMI ins but it’s not a current priority. I’m not sure where the 2 other speakers would go. I do like having the volume control within arms reach.
- Popcorn Hour. I’ll eventually do a blog post on this thing. It’s connected to ethernet and to the #2 HDMI port on the HW10. It plays just about any digital media you throw at it. It has an internal HDD and can stream HD media stored on my mac.
- Sony S350 Bluray player. This is the player to get. It’s also connected to ethernet although I have yet to get any BD Live content to work.
- Old DirecTV HD TiVo. I need to replace this with a regular DirecTV HD DVR but have been putting it off because I’m a TiVo snob. If I wait long enough I’ll be able to get a new DirecTV TiVo.
- Game systems. Xbox and Wii. Both are wifi. They are at the bottom because the wireless controllers don’t need a line of sight like the remotes for the media players.
My home theatre is just a living room with a comfy couch facing a big white wall and black out drapes for daytime viewing. In full-frame 16:9 the image is about 12 or 13 feet across. We sit about 16-18 feet from the screen – so it really gives that movie theatre experience. All audio cables are run under the floor and inside the walls so there are no wires running across the floor. Here you can see the couch and the wall. The media tower is just outside frame on the left:
Compare this photo to the floor plan from yesterday and you should have a good understanding of what our setup is like.
Another question people ask is why no fancyÂ serious real screen? The AV club might disagree with me but the screen simply isn’t necessary. While the projector isn’t cheap, screens can cost much more than the projector… and they are UG-LEE. Notice in my room that the wall just looks like a wall. But when you turn out the lights and turn on the projector suddenly that whole wall becomes a TV. If I had a screen it would actually limit the frame size. Also the aspect ratio of the TV show or movie wouldn’t necessarily match that of the screen. In fact, during The Dark Knight the aspect ratio changes from shot to shotÂ during the IMAX sequences. On the wall you just don’t notice it.
UPDATE – I did a full post on this topic. READ THAT POST…
What about the quality and brightness of the image on the wall compared to the image on a REAL screen? I did tests! In my first house I did have a screen. When I moved into this house I did tests on this wall with the screen, the wall with grey paint and the wall with the whitest flat paint I could find. I determined that image was just as good with a very white paint than it was with the screen material. And the screen-less wall made my wife happy because there’s no unsightly box on the wall.
Let’s get to the important part – how does it look?
The first time I turned on the HW10 we put The Dark Knight in the Bluray player. That opening shot of the bank heist sequence showed how amazing this projector is. Right out of the box the image looks like you’re peering out a window. It’s crystal clear and bright. Even though on paper the HW10 is rated 200 lux below my old HS51, the image is plenty bright enough. Even during the daytime, when there’s a lot more ambient light, the image seems brighter than the HS51. I think it’s aÂ testamentÂ to the much higher contrast ratio. It’s also proof that a well made bluray disc delivers the quality.
My first impression was that you can totally see the difference between 1080P and 720P. A while ago we watched the final directors cut of Blade Runner on HD DVD – but in 720P. That movie looks amazing, but this just seemed much more clear. From a reasonable viewing distance you can’t see any pixels at all.
Another interesting note is that The Dark Knight was shotÂ half in 65mm and half in IMAXÂ in both 35mm and in IMAX.Â The IMAX shots look better than the 35mm shots, a quality difference that I don’t think would come across at 720P.
Now for some samples. In order to show it as accurately as possible I mounted my DSLR Â on sticks and used fully manual settings and longer shutter to get the photo as close to how it actually looks in the room as possible. All the photos were taken with the same settings, so the darker shots and brighter shots can be compared. These photos are quite large and have not been tweaked in Photoshop. These are the original 10mp photos – click on them to see them close up. Of course no photo can show exactly what it looks like when sitting on my couch, but i did my best to take shots to convey it. Looking closely at each picture you’ll notice the side wall being illuminated by the picture. Also you’ll notice that the picture is paused on each of these and the BD timeline is showing. You can use the timeline to see that the brightness of each photo matches…
Next is a close-up of the above image taken about 2 feet away from the screen. On the full size photo below you can see the individual 1080P pixels but at a reasonable viewing distance they completely disappear.
I really can’t say enough good things about this amazing projector. I didn’t even cover some of the main features, like the x.v.Color, Deep Color, or the 24p True Cinema. But honestly the true test is just watching it. And from a bluray source it’s stunning.
I will say that after watching Dark Knight we switched to regular TV and I couldn’t believe how bad it looked. After using the projector for a few days, I realize it was because of having just seen the best possible image. To then switch to highly compressed NTSC was a shock. I have watched television on it, during the day, and it looks fine considering the source. But seeing a movie played off of Bluray has ruined me. From now on I won’t be satisfied with anything less.