Sony VPL-VW11HT LCD projector Page 2
All of the positive comments I made about the 10HT apply equally—or more so—to the 11HT. The 11HT does appear to have a noticeably improved scaler. As to the quality and richness of its blacks, the 11HT is claimed to be improved over the earlier design. I could not definitively verify this, since I did not have a sample of the ealier projector on hand. On my Stewart StudioTek 130 screen (1.3 gain), however, the blacks were still the 11HT's main shortcoming, with somewhat milky-looking dark scenes and an occasional washed-out appearance even with brighter material. None of this spoiled the pudding, however. For several months, the 11HT was the only projector I had on hand, and its color, brightness, and sharpness more than compensated for its lack of contrast. And it was with the 11HT that I discovered the usefulness of gamma adjustment—a slight tweak of the Gamma control on the Kenwood DV-5700 DVD player (to a setting of -1) added a noticeable and welcome degree of punch to the Sony's picture.
But I put off completing this review until I could try the 11HT with Stewart's new FireHawk, a screen specifically designed for this type of projector. It was worth the wait. No, the new screen material couldn't bring out black details that weren't there to begin with, and the FireHawk can't make an LCD or DLP projector look like a CRT. But the blacks were nevertheless noticeably improved. The gray haze that had overlaid dark scenes was now largely gone. As a bonus, colors looked richer, more saturated. The only downside was a slight loss of punch in the mid-brightness range, but the 11HT's high light output kept that from being a serious shortcoming.
What about the 11HT's HD performance? With both 720p and 1080i sources, the picture was startlingly sharp and detailed. It was easy to see errors of camera focus, and color and flesh tones were superb. I knew what to look for, so I could still see the black-level problems with darker scenes, but in general I found the 11HT's hi-def performance very satisfying.
To paraphrase what I concluded about the VPL-VW10HT back in May 2000, Sony's VPL-VW11HT is a solid choice for those who can't spend $10,000 for a projector. While there are now other good options that were not available then—specifically, a whole new generation of vastly improved DLP designs—the Sony LCD continues to hold its own.
Compared with a lower-priced projector like the InFocus ScreenPlay 110 DLP ($5000, reviewed in the June 2002 SGHT), both viewed on the FireHawk screen, the Sony offers true high-definition resolution, a sharper image, and no rainbow artifacts. Both projectors are comparable in measured contrast, but the Sony, with its true 16:9 chip and no light spill around the image, actually appeared to have a slight edge in the subjective quality of its blacks. Compared with a more expensive, true 16:9 DLP projector like the Marantz VP-12S1 ($12,499, reviewed elsewhere in this issue), the Sony falls behind in its measured contrast, the subjective quality of its blacks, dimensionality, and richness of color, but is still superior in brightness and more than holds its own in color quality and overall sharpness.
In short, the Sony VPL-VW11HT, properly set up on the right screen, can compete with anything I've seen in or near its price class. I liked the VPL-VW10HT, and I like its successor as much or more.