Digital projectors are a popular choice for the home theatre aficionado. Fifty inches of plasma-screen does seems a tad average when you’re staring at a projector’s two metre, high-resolution image, right in your living room.
Regular readers may have spotted our review of Panasonic’s PT-AE900 home cinema unit – it got an overwhelming thumbs-up and leads the sub-$4,000 price bracket. Now we’ve got our hands on Sony’s contender – the VPHLS60. This has a RRP of $3,499, which is $200 more than the Panasonic.
Out of the box, this projector is striking to look at. It would be right at home on the set of Stanley Kubrick’s magnum opus 2001, A Space Odyssey. Sci-fi geeks beware: you may find yourself asking it to “open the pod bay door”.
Sadly, the out-of-the-box aesthetic is the Sony’s only real edge over the Panasonic unit. After switching the unit on and adjusting the lighting conditions, zoom and focus, the results were immediately clear: while decent in its own right, this projector could not dethrone the PT-AE900 from the top spot.
One of the most obvious side effects found in many LCD home cinema projectors is the presence of the ‘fly-screen’ effect. This is when gaps appear between projected pixels, like there is a piece of fly-screen stuck over the image. Panasonic, somehow, has managed to diffuse this side effect so it’s hardly noticeable. Sony, however, hasn’t been as successful with the VPLHS60. The effect is present and as a result, it’s hard to lose yourself in the on-screen action as you would at the cinema when the image is sliced into tiny squares.
On paper, the two units are much the same. The Sony is a tad brighter, pumping out 1,200 ANSI lumens compared to the Panasonic’s 1,100, not that the difference is detectable. Both units are HDTV-ready and equipped with an HDMI connector.
The colours on the Sony are vibrant, and contrasts are on par with the Panasonic, which is exceptional when compared to similar products of a few years ago.
Like the PT-AE900, the VPHLS60 uses 3LCD technology, which combines three different images (red green and blue) into one projected picture.
On the whole, the Sony VPLHS60 is a decent 3LCD product. However, the Panasonic PT-AE900 is clearly a superior alternative that punches well above its weight. There’s simply no contest.