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…
Check out the photo on the right. Click it to see it closer up and what each number is referring to. Here’s what each part is:
- 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.
12 thoughts on “PART 2 – Sony Bravia SXRD 1080P VPL-HW10 = FREAKING AWESOME!”
I have a 50" 720p plasma and I can tell you for a fact that the IMAX scenes on the Dark Knight are definitely noticeable as being better quality than the 65mm scenes. Stuff in the background is more detailed and overall it just looks amazing. Incredible movie.
The quality on that thing is insane. I would absolutely kill for that projector – the shot of Bale driving the Lamborghini is so crystal clear, and the fact that it's coming from a projector is mindblowing. You're one lucky guy, that's for sure. 😀
Imax film uses 70mm stock. Not much difference from 65mm stock and both have FAR more resolution capability than 1080p. Not saying you aren't seeing something, but the film source most likely is not it.
For an equipment review, I was little disapointed that there were no hard facts, measurements, or comparisons and that your evaluation didn't even use a serious (any) proection screen. (BTW, yes there are relatively inexpensive solutions for long HDMI connections)
I blame Engadget. You are probably just a nice guy blogging about his experience with his latest tech toy, where as they sold you as a serious review.
Thanks for your comments. You are right, I am a nice guy blogging about the technology in my life. Check out my about page.
In 1080P you can see film grain on some 35mm transfers. Depends on how it was shot, what kind of transfer was done, etc. I can see huge differences between some films and other films. Even though 1080P is less pixel resolution than the grain density of the film, or say, a 4k cineon file, you can still see enough detail and clarity to tell that the one source is better than the other.
True, I should have researched how Dark Knight was shot before stating that it was IMAX and 65mm. It was an assumption. But nonetheless, with my setup you CAN see a difference in the quality of IMAX, albeit a subtle difference. But honestly both are amazing.
As for this being a serious review or not… this is an honest review and the kind of review that I look for before shelling out $3k on a piece of equipment. If you want specs and measurements check out sony's website. OR.. if you have a link to that kind of review please post it here. I'd love to read it.
I know that AV-philes disagree with me on my stance on screens. Screens are over-rated and they limit your image size, aspect ratios and viewing options. I stand by that. A $3k screen won't add $3k worth of quality. In the real world of working within a budget, you have to make allowances. The screen simply isn't going to improve the quality enough to justify the cost and all the negatives.
THe movie was shot mainly on 35mm with a few sequences on 65mm (which is Imax).
traditional movies are shot on 35mm film. IMAX and OMNIMAX are shot on 70mm. i can't believe so many people get this half right or totally wrong. from the wiki site:
"As used in camera, the film is 65 mm wide. For projection, the original 65 mm film is printed on 70 mm film. The additional 5 mm are for magnetic strips holding four of the six tracks of sound."
the aspect ratio of Dark Knight doesn't change from scene to scene, it changes only for each of the four short 70mm scenes.
Like fiercecurry said, the film was shot mainly on 35mm not 65mm. IMAX is 70mm and only consisted of about 20 minutes. Other than that, nice review and I can't wait until I eventually get a projector.
Imax film is shot going thru the film camera sideways not vertically like regular film cameras so each image is the size of three or four regular film frames (imagine a strip of film with four frames on it, now turn the film sideways and imagine one frame taking up the space of all four). Yes it is a gigantic negative and yields much more resolution and finer film grain.
Thanks everyone for the comments. I made corrections to the post regarding Dark Knight being shot in 65mm. I had made an assumption about Dark Knight being 65mm and IMAX – knowing that IMAX and 65mm are different shooting formats.
Thanks also to Techguy, I was just about to talk about that… There is a difference between film stock and the way something is shot. Take 35mm, you can shoot 3 perf, 4 perf, Cinemascope – which was anamorphic, or VistaVision which runs the film through horizontally using 8 perfs per frame. Each of these methods use the film in different ways and theoretically result in a different "quality" for the final image. Ever seen an old Paramount VistaVision film? They're stunning.
65mm is a shooting stock. 70mm is a projection stock – as kevin said, the extra 5mm are the sound tracks. No one shoots 70mm. Panavision 70 is still 65mm film – but uses an anamorphic lens.
There is a difference between shooting 65mm and IMAX. A HUGE difference in the cameras. I've been on a set for a 65mm shoot when they used the Panavision camera. I was a film assistant editor on that movie. In 65mm, the film goes through the camera vertically, 5 perfs per frame. IMAX uses the same 65mm stock but the film travels through the camera horizontally, like VistaVision, and is 15 perfs per frame. So IMAX has more than twice the frame size of 65mm.
I don't know if donating your old projector is something you'd be interested in, but I'm a volunteer youth leader/tech guru for a community youth group that could make really great use of it.
I like this review because it is real world. Sure to get the absolute best out of a projector you need a screen . But if you a have a budget of 3000 and listened to an AV-Phile and purchased a 1,500 projector and spent the balance on a screen. You would end up with a far inferior image.
Yeah Right? I dare anyone to come sit on my couch, watch a good 1080P movie and afterwards say that they even noticed that there wasn't a screen.
After 5 minutes of watching anything your eye adjusts anyway. That's why TiVo works. It's crap quality. But if you watch it all the time you get used to it. It's just like when you were in grade school and you went to play at your friend's house and it was smelly. Within 15 min you don't smell it anymore and you can get on with shooting GiJoes in the basement with BB Guns.
Now, this is on a very different level. Nothing about my setup is smelly (except maybe that I need a better amp and speakers). We're talking about it MAYBE being 5% or 10% brighter because the screen reflects light better. But the contrast ratio of this projector is 30,000:1.. and that stat WAS probably measured on a real screen – by a manufacturer who will stretch the truth. So maybe I'm getting half that? Either way it's a BS stat because it depends on the scene and how you have the auto iris set. Plus, like I said, your eye adjusts. If anything you eye adjusts really well to light levels. screw this.. I'm going to blog about this today.. read the rest at http://www.michaelsmith.tv/2008/12/30/
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