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Sony VPL-VW85 Review Wheeling WV

Sony VPL-VW85 brings us a big jump not just in contrast ratio or brightness, but in resolution. Unlike other devices that use a liquid crystal material, VW85 suffers no motion blur by applying the unique MotionFlow circuitry which this case is 120 Hz of SXRD goodness.

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Sony VPL-VW85 Review

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March 1, 2010 By Geoffrey Morrison

Something Old, Something New, Something Red, Green and Blue

I have this déjà-vu feeling that I've reviewed this projector before. And in some ways, I have. Much of this projector is very similar to the VW70 I reviewed last year, which itself was similar to the VW60 and the 50 and so on.

Each generation, though, has had notable and noticeable improvements, each a step up from its predecessor. The new VW85 brings us a big jump not just in contrast ratio or brightness, but in resolution.

What Blur?

Pretty much all devices that use a liquid crystal material to create their image suffer from motion blur. As in, everything that has any amount of motion seems to be of lower resolution than anything that's stationary.

This doesn't have anything to do with refresh or anything like that, but mostly with a problem called "sample and hold." I did a big article on this here . The short version is that the LCD, or in this case SXRD (Sony's version of liquid crystal on silicon, or LCOS), holds each frame of video for the full 1/60th of a second, for each of the 60 frames of video coming each second from a Blu-ray player or other video source. Your brain expects to see some motion during that 1/60th of a second, and when it doesn't perceive it, it sort of blurs the image. This is the short version; check out the 240Hz article for a better description.

So with the VW85, Sony has added their MotionFlow circuitry, which in this case is 120 Hz of SXRD goodness.

Sony VPL-VW85

MotionFlow on the VW85 has two modes. Film Projection is a black or dark frame insertion mode. This is where every other frame is a dark duplicate. So it goes: regular frame, dark frame, regular frame, dark frame and so on every 1/120th of a second. This reduces the sample and hold problem mentioned above without the artifacts of the Motion Enhancer mode (more on that in a moment). While it works great, unfortunately, Film Projection drops the light output rather precipitously.

Film Projection Mode 1 is the darkest, with about a 60 percent loss in light as compared to when the processing is off. Mode 2 has a loss of about 25 percent, though Mode 3 is about even with Off. Mode 2 and 3 are clearly of the "dark frame" variety, using duplicates of the previous frame that are darker than their twins but not black.

I used a test pattern that is a close up of an old book. This book then scrolls across the screen. In the “Off” Mode the text was so blurred that it was unreadable. Mode 1 is a stunning improvement. The text was perfectly readable. Night and day, as the expression goes. Sadly, Mode 1 is definitely "night," as with even reasonably sized screens and a high lamp setting, the light output is way too dim to use. If you have a smaller screen (80 inches or so) this mode could work for you.

Mode 2 is not quite as sharp as Mode 1, but it’s close and the light tradeoff is more reasonable. M...

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