Sony VPL-VW70 Projector


Check out the architectural grace of the arcing top and bottom panels. Peer closer and you’ll notice a subtle cerulean sparkle rising from the projector’s gloss finish.

Projectors also offer more to excite the left cerebral hemisphere. Only recently, most models struggled to deliver adequate contrast and to deal with the high resolution of HDTV. Now some of the latest models exceed the needs of the average buyer as flamboyantly as a Ferrari does.

Sony’s industrial-design team even threw in a gratuitous “wow” feature: an automatic two-piece lens cover that slides open when you power up the projector and closes when you cut the juice. But in a shocking design oversight, Sony didn’t consider the sound of the door; it emits only a plasticky clunk.

The VPL-VW70 uses three of Sony’s SXRD (Silicon X-tal Reflective Display) chips, so it doesn’t suffer the color fringing you can see in single-chip DLP projectors. And it offers a complete complement of inputs.

One neat feature, unusual at this price point, is compatibility with anamorphic 2.35:1 motorized lenses. Lots of projectors have the internal image processing necessary to work with these lenses, which let you fill an extra-wide screen for a CinemaScope effect. The VPL-VW70 adds a trigger output for a motorized lens sled, so the lens moves into place automatically when the anamorphic zoom mode is activated. Sony doesn’t sell such a lens, but the lens/sled combo is available from such companies as Panamorph starting at around $3,000.

The VPL-VW70 offers more adjustments and tweaks than Ferrari’s F1 cars. All the must-have stuff like gain and bias adjustment for red, green, and blue is there. But you also get exotic goodies, like manual iris adjustment (which lets you stop down the projector’s light output to improve contrast). It also has Sony’s Real Color Processing (RCP), which lets you fine-tune the saturation and hue of the three primary and three secondary colors to a degree I haven’t seen before.

The remote control is an installer’s dream. It has so many dedicated buttons – even for such functions as sharpness and gamma – that the menu system seems almost superfluous. Because of these dedicated buttons, any adjustment takes only seconds. Controls behind a door on the side offer full access to the on-screen menus.