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Sony VPL-HW45ES SXRD Projector Review

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160 inch gaming anyone?

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While a 55-inch TV or a 32-inch curved monitor might look amazing when you’re sitting in front of it, there’s something to be said for a gaming display the size of an entire wall. The Sony VPL-HW45ES SXRD projector (See it on Amazon) is just the ticket for wall-sized gaming, delivering an image up to 122 inches at a distance of 12 feet, or 160 inches if you move it back a bit further. This particular model isn’t designed to be next-gen or future proof per se, as it offers the standard 1920 x 1080 resolution and SDR (as opposed to HDR), but Sony designed it to be one of the best projectors available for current standards.

I mounted it to my ceiling and took it for a spin.

Sony VPL-HW45ES – Design and Features

The Sony VPL-HW45ES is a 1080p SXRD (Silicon X-tal Reflective Display) projector, which is what Sony calls its implementation of LCoS, or liquid crystal on silicon, projection technology. The manufacturing process Sony uses is slightly different than others so they gave it a special name. The shiny black box has its lens centered at the front with a ventilation exhaust at the front left and front right sides as well as around the back.

Manual lens shift adjustment knobs (to make sure your picture is properly aligned on your screen) are on top. The image can be shifted vertically up to 71% and horizontally up to 25%. Ideally the lens should be level with the center of your screen.

The more you need to shift the image, the more it will get a keystone effect – where the image is wider at the top than it is at the bottom if the lens is below center, or vice versa if the lens is above center. Manual zoom (up to 1.6x) and focus are adjusted by two rings around the lens. All connections are on the bottom right side of the projector.

There are two HDMI HDCP-compliant inputs, a USB port for updating the firmware, and a RS-232 and IR-in for adding an external remote control. Missing is a 12v trigger for those with a motorized projection screen (the 12v trigger is usually used to automate a motorized screen so that when the projector is turned on, the screen will descend), and there’s also no Ethernet port for those who might want to add it to their “smart home” setup. Video inputs are limited to the two HDMI ports, so if you have multiple HDMI sources or any analog video sources like a Wii or older Xbox 360 you’ll need to go through a receiver.

Projectors also don’t have speakers for sound output (the HW45ES included), so a receiver or a soundbar is a necessity.

Sony VPL-HW45ES SXRD Projector Review

Above the connections are power and menu navigation buttons, although it’s significantly easier to just use the included remote. Its buttons are backlit and clearly marked with separate buttons for each calibrated preset along with abundant image adjustment options. Sadly, the only adjustment gamers really care about – input lag reduction – is only accessible by going through the menu via a button on the chassis.

Though this is a mild annoyance, once I get my settings dialed in I rarely change them, so I doubt most people will need to fiddle with it too often. Many of the settings I leave off, such as Reality Creation and Motionflow. Reality Creation is there primarily to help with upscaling an image.

It adds edge enhancement that I find to be distracting and doesn’t benefit the image to my eye. There is an adjustable slider to it, so someone could prefer the picture with it turned on a little bit, but it isn’t for me. Motionflow tries to remove motion blur, but it can lead to a soap opera effect.

All LCD-based technologies have some level of motion blur because of the pixel response time (mainly) and companies have developed different motion interpolation technology to combat it. There are plenty of people that don’t have any issue with something like Motionflow being turned on, and might even enjoy the effect. My philosophy when it comes to any of these advanced features is less is more.

Adding processing on top of processing can lead to some ugly results, so I always err on the minimal intrusion side. There are sometimes some situational effects that can be useful (like black level enhancers on monitors), but as a general rule I don’t recommend most of them. And there isn’t a need to use them on this Sony in my opinion.

Sony VPL-HW45ES SXRD Projector Review

The VPL-HW45ES has a light output of 1,800 lumens, which is about average for midrange projectors. It’s also more than enough, unless you plan on shining sunlight on your projection screen (don’t do that). There are two lamp control settings, high and low.

High works well if you have a good amount of ambient light in your room, but you might want to switch to low when it’s dark to help with eye fatigue (the brighter the image in the dark the more strain on your eyes over time). High will also burn the lamp out quicker and draw more power. I have picture windows in my living room and with the ‘high’ brightness setting I had no issues with seeing the image during daytime gaming.

For night viewing (or when the curtains are drawn in the afternoon) the ‘low’ mode is more than sufficient. The projector’s cooling fan is a little louder in the high setting, but isn’t obtrusive. The VPL-HW45ES is also a 3D-capable projector that requires compatible active 3D glasses (not included).

The buzz of 3D has simmered down in the past few years. There are still a steady stream of 3D Blu-rays released if the movie had a theatrical 3D version, but it’s nowhere near the fervor of five to ten years ago. And game companies have moved on to VR as a more immersive visual experience.

Sony VPL-HW45ES – Testing and Gaming

When getting into actual-use situations the image looked amazing. After properly adjusting the Sony VPL-HW45ES to my 100-inch Stewart GrayHawk (a 0.9 gain screen), I checked grayscale and color accuracy using a Photo Research PR-650 colorimeter and test patterns from the Digital Video Essentials HD Basics Blu-ray disc. Of the eight calibrated presets, “Reference” was far and away the most accurate.

Others, such as the two Cinema Film presets, had issues with red in particular looking more like orange. In Reference, grayscale color temperature was a little on the blue side with a temp of around 7000K. The primary color points were all slightly under saturated, although only the red enough to see visibly.

Yellow and magenta trended slightly red while cyan was a little blue. But those are just test patterns. When getting into actual-use situations the image quality was amazing.

Sony VPL-HW45ES SXRD Projector Review

No matter what you think about the story, the visuals of The Last Jedi are stunning and the Sony projector did them justice.

The red soil reveal on the salt flats of Crait were exciting and dramatic, as was the battle in Snoke’s throne room. The Sony was also excellent with black level detail. In the Jedi tree on Ahch-To, I could see the beautiful detail put into the gnarls and knots on the walls of the set.

” Vistas in Horizon Zero Dawn have excellent detail… This excellence translated over to gaming, too.

Vistas in Horizon Zero Dawn had excellent detail thanks to the HW45ES. And the different colors in Aloy’s assortment of armor choices really popped, and were a testament to the beautiful costume design. The black detail was a significant help while navigating through caves and hives in Destiny 2.

Low Input lag is an absolute necessity whether I was shooting arrows at machines or swinging a flaming sword at the Fallen (Warlock for life), and projectors are notoriously bad at this. With input lag reduction turned off my Leo Bodnar measured lag at a dreadfully slow 108.2ms. But when I turned it on that number plummeted to 21.9ms, which rivals some televisions.

The disparity is marked, and could be the difference between life and death in-game. With the reduction turned on I felt that I could actually be competitive. Tracer’s pistols and her Blink ability reacted quickly to my button presses and I couldn’t sense any significant delay.

Purchasing Guide

The Sony VPL-HW45ES has an MSRP of £2,000 but can be found on Amazon for £1,798 pretty consistently.

Its lowest price has been £1,498, which it hit briefly last November during sales.

The Verdict

The Sony VPL-HW45ES has a nicely detailed picture, beautiful colors, and excellent black levels, especially for a £2,000 projector.

Its input lag setting gets the timing down to television territory too, making it great for gaming.

It is a 1080p projector in the age of 4K HDR, but a bright 100-inch+ high-quality image is an impressive and immersive sight.

Best Webcam for Streaming: Top 7 Picks & Buyer’s Guide

Are you looking for an upgrade to your current webcam – a new cam that will benefit your streaming and help you grow your audience (while also helping you to look better on stream)? There are plenty of affordable webcams around with far better capabilities than the cam your computer came with: We’re going to help you choose the right one! The Logitech C922x was a clear choice for our top pick.

This cam was specifically designed to help Twitch and YouTube streamers customize their streams and provide higher quality video for their viewers. While it’s pricier than the average webcam, it has excellent recording features, a highly maneuverable stand, a plethora of optimization tools for improving a feed, and built-in background replacement technology. But that’s just the start – check out our full list of cams below!

Best Webcams for Streaming

#1 Logitech C922x – Best Logitech Webcam for Streaming

Pros:

  • Lighting and focus features
  • Reliable 1080p resolution recording
  • Stereo audio mic

Cons:

  • More expensive than many cam upgrades
  • Stereo mic isn’t much good if you already have a headset
  • Background removal isn’t always recommended

This Logitech model is a state-of-the-art webcam designed for professional streaming from gamers and YouTube vloggers.

From top to bottom, it’s filled with features we look for in our reviews. Moreover, it’s focused on making streaming easier, including background removal, a temporary licensing for Xsplit’s streaming software, autofocus and light adjustment, and a full HD glass lens that’s probably better than the onboard webcam you may have been using. Not everything is perfect, but the issues this cam has are acceptable: The mic won’t do gamers much good if they use a headset, and background removal, while a fun feature, can look seriously weird on the wrong type of streaming (feel free to experiment with it, though).

#2 Logitech HD C615 – Best Outdoor Webcam for Streaming

Pros:

  • 360-degree rotation
  • Autofocus and mic filters
  • Ideal for video chatting, too

Cons:

  • 1080p compatibility comes with some odd caveats
  • Made strictly for computer mounting
  • Some video chat options overshadow streaming features

Do you travel a lot but still need to stream?

Is a high-quality video streaming cam important for your professional life, even (especially) when you are on the go? This excellent little Logitech cam folds up for easy travel, and expands to provide – as we discovered in testing – immediately high-quality video when you need it. The optimization software is also very helpful with both mic and focus features ideal in on the go situations.

However, some oddities are present, too. The 1080p settings can to make other features like the autofocus struggle a little, and the mount is specifically designed for smaller computers, so trying to attach it to a desk or chair may pose problems.

#3 Logitech Brio – Best HD Webcam for Live Streaming

Pros:

  • High resolution image sensor and glass lens
  • Zoom and pan options
  • Logitech’s strong optimization features are better than ever

Cons:

  • One of the more expensive webcams
  • 4k resolution may not be necessary and requires USB 3.0
  • The mount is not great

If you want to zoom straight to the high-end of the webcam world, you’ll find the Brio waiting there with is top-line and very expensive features. The 4k resolution is ideal if you want to stream tutorials and detail is very important (and you have a USB 3.0 connection).

Lighting and color optimization here are quite excellent, although they will lower your frame rate. Zooming and panning is ideal for conferences or more complex web shows, too. The only big concern here is the mounting base, which just isn’t up to par with the rest of Logitech’s cams for some reason, and needs extra care and adjustment when you set the cam up.

#4 HP HD 4310 – Best HD Webcam for Live Streaming

Pros:

  • Nice sharing features
  • Software for lighting and focus adjustment
  • Many mounting options

Cons:

  • Design is a little outdated
  • Some complaints about OS updates
  • No zoom technology

The 4310 may look a little clunky but behind that design are a bunch of video-friendly features that add up to a surprisingly competitive webcam.

There are tools for sharing your desktop in video chat, uploading video to Facebook, implementing autofocus, and even adding effects to your video. The 1080p lens may be large, but it also offers wide image capture (although no zoom is included). When we reviewed the older model we found that it didn’t work with the newer operating systems.

This appears to be currently resolved, but it is something to consider when it comes to future firmware maintenance.

#5 Microsoft LifeCam Studio – Best Quality Webcam for Streaming

Pros:

  • Highly durable lens and audio
  • Microsoft’s autofocus and video smoothing technology
  • 1080p widescreen sensor for big projects

Cons:

  • Autofocus isn’t always dependable
  • Frame rate issues in low light
  • An older cam that may require extra driver installation

While this cam is a bit older than the rest of our choices (look for recent models and prepare to download the right firmware), it still does a great job capturing clear video, including widescreen 16:9 video if you really want to go big. The autofocus and low light capabilities are another welcome feature, but they do tend to slow down the frame rate a lot when all that optimization software has to work together.

#6 Ausdom AW620 – Best Webcam for Streaming on Twitch

Pros:

  • Great ease of use
  • Options for fps based on resolution
  • Compatible with many platforms

Cons:

  • Fisheye lens approach not for all streaming
  • Video optimization isn’t always ideal
  • Stereo mic quality is just average

This Ausdom model gets plenty of respect for being so easy to use: it’s compatible whether you’re using a Mac, PC, Chromebook, or any other computer, and setting it up is particularly speedy thanks to the compact design. Fortunately, you still get a choice between 30fps 1080p and 60fps 720p video depending on how detailed you want your streaming to be.

A stereo microphone is indeed built in, but it’s just okay and you are probably better off buying a dedicated mic for serious streaming. But if you have concerns about compatibility or usability, this cam will help allay your fears while still provided high quality video capture.

#7 Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 – Best Budget Streaming Webcam

Pros:

  • Highly affordable
  • Color enhancing technology
  • Versatile base works with many different devices

Cons:

  • Only 720p max resolution
  • Software has some occasional reported issues
  • Omnidirectional mic can pick up background noise

If you are looking for a more affordable option, this cam is only around £25 (which easily ranks as one of the cheapest vlogging cameras) – with an ideal design for more casual streaming. Sure the resolution is a little low as we found in our tests, but there’s color optimization technology (that will also help a lot with light levels), and a great adjustable base that you can use to attach the cam to nearly any kind of computer.

Some people have noted that the software may have occasional trouble with the audio cutting out or the cam not working with certain types of software, which is why we didn’t rate this model higher. Fortunately, these problems seem fairly rare and frequently solved by making sure all your software is updated.

Best Webcam for Streaming Buying Guide

Feel free to shop around for webcams before you make up your mind about your vlogging needs. But in the process, don’t forget to focus on the most important features for you.

We tested many of these in our review and feel as though these are the key factors. Here’s a quick guide to help you get started.

  • Mobility and Mounting
    • Mobility and mounting are all about positioning the webcam in just the right way. The typical “on top of the computer” pose is, unfortunately, one of the worst for showing your face at the best angle.
    • This is why the best cams have extra mounting capabilities that allow you to put them pretty much anywhere and angle or tilt them as you please.

      This is very useful for conference call streaming, and a boon for more complex webcasts where your face deserves better attention.

  • Autofocus
    • Autofocus is growing increasingly common in webcams, for which we are very grateful! Pick up a cam with autofocus capabilities if possible. This makes adjustment and startup so much easier, and goes a long way to improving your stream quality.
    • Even the patient gamers and poised professionals tend to move around and fidget in front of their cams: Autofocus helps prevent resolution issues related to these common movements.
  • Low Light Response
    • Closely connected to autofocus, low light features automatically adjust the cam to make improve the picture quality when light levels a little low or too weird.

      This is great for late night streaming that is so common among gamers, and a strong features to watch for.

    • However, if you have lots of great lighting around your PC and don’t do much streaming in the night hours, you don’t need to worry as much about this.
  • Streaming Quality
    • Notice how we are not saying “video resolution,” which would be a common spec for most cams. Yes, webcams have resolution ratings, and most good models tend to be 720p or 1080p: you shouldn’t go lower and don’t really need to go higher at the moment. However, those ratings don’t matter much for streaming.
    • Unlike recording, streaming content has to pass through webcam software, then through your internet, then through all the necessary bandwidth to the end user, through the software they are using, and finally through their own device.

      There’s so little control over this process, it’s tough to guarantee a steady resolution.

    • It’s far better to focus on streaming quality, specifically the streaming app you use and how well-reviewed a cam is when it comes to streaming.
  • A Stereo Mic
    • There are two sides to webcam mics. The first side is that they need to clearly carry your voice and diminish background noise, so a high-quality stereo mic is important, especially for more professional streaming.
    • The other side, however, assumes that you will be using a headset with a good mic already positioned in front of your face – in this case, a cam mic isn’t necessary at all. Different streamers will fall on either side, depending on whether they use a headset or not.
  • Compatibility
    • Most streaming services, computers, and webcams get along fine…but not always.

      If you have an older computer or a unique setup, then remember to research the requirements for any particular webcam and see if you’ll run into issues.

  • Viewing Angle
    • If all you’re streaming is a snapshot of your face while the real action is taking place in a bigger window, your viewing angle shouldn’t be very large. Around 60 degrees is ideal for this kind of streaming session. If you are doing a more physical tutorial in front of your computer, look for a wider viewing angle to capture more.

Perhaps you are starting out and aren’t sure which platform is worth investing time in: if this describes you, then research into the right platform is very important.

It’s not enough to simply ask, “Well, which streaming option is cheapest?” Your question should always be, “Where is my target audience at?” This will point you in the right direction. Facebook Live, for example, is a popular free streaming option for businesses with a lively Facebook presence, but it’s a horrible choice for a gaming stream. People just don’t go to Facebook to follow games or gamers.

YouTube has a robust streaming option with plenty of tools for optimization, but if you don’t already have a YouTube presence built-up, it’s not going to do you much good to start live streaming there: that said, everyone has to start somewhere, and YouTube is a great place to post general tutorial and lifestyle streams if you want. Twitch, on the other hand, is an excellent streaming service for games. However, it’s also highly competitive and highly focused – if you aren’t streaming the latest games, you don’t really belong there.

There are many, many other free and pay streaming platforms you can consider, but remember that the largest platforms have the best chances to get you subscribers.

Note: if you’re still trying to build context on how much to spend on a Streaming Camera, make sure you read this article.

Best Webcam for Streaming: Top 7 Picks & Buyer’s Guide

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Is the iPhone X Screen Really the Best of All Smartphone Screens?

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When you’re in the market for a new phone, which features are most important to you? Many people make their decision based on operating system, overall battery life, and the manufacturer. But what about the screen?

If you’re a smartphone addict, it’s arguably the most important aspect to consider. These days, the common belief is that the iPhone X’s screen is the best one out there. But is that true?

Let’s take a closer look.

The iPhone X’s Screen and Display

We’re going to focus on the specifications and underlying technology in leading smartphones’ screens. As such, we won’t be discussing the divisive notch The Story of iPhone X’s Notch and How It’s Influencing Phone Designs The Story of iPhone X’s Notch and How It’s Influencing Phone Designs The iPhone X has a big notch cut out at the top of the phone. Why is this and what does it mean for future phones? Read More and virtual home button on the iPhone X.

You can let us know what you think about those in the comments section. So, why does the iPhone X’s screen receive such rave reviews? Well, the iPhone X is Apple’s first OLED phone.

For those who don’t know what OLED means, it stands for “organic light-emitting diode.” In practice, it means every pixel on the screen produces light. That differs from a typical LED screen, which instead uses a backlight. As a result, users can expect to see deeper blacks, more vibrant colors, a greater brightness range, and improved contrast.

OLED screens also help battery life; black pixels don’t need to produce any light. It means iPhone X owners can enjoy an average of two hours of additional battery life when compared to the iPhone 8.
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But OLED screens are nothing new; top-of-the-line Android phones have been using them for a while. There must be something else that lets the iPhone X screen garner such praise, then. And there is!

It’s the resolution. The iPhone X’s display boasts an incredible resolution of 2436×1125, giving it a pixel density of 458PPI. Apple calls it “Super Retina,” but as a user, all you need to know is that it’s really, really crisp.

But wait, there’s more! DisplayMate–the leading company for testing, evaluating, and comparing phone displays–came up with a list of areas in which the iPhone X screen set or met existing records. All the tests were conducted under laboratory conditions, and the results found the iPhone X had:

  • Highest absolute color accuracy
  • The highest full-screen brightness for OLED smartphones
  • Highest full-screen contrast rating in ambient light
  • Highest contrast ratio
  • Lowest screen reflectance
  • Smallest brightness variation with viewing angle

But what about the competition? After all, the iPhone X isn’t brand-new anymore.

Several flagship models from other manufacturers have since come to market.

Compare to Samsung Galaxy S9’s Screen and Display

In March 2018, the Samsung Galaxy S9 hit the shelves Galaxy S9 and S9+: What to Know About Samsung’s New Flagships Galaxy S9 and S9+: What to Know About Samsung’s New Flagships Samsung has announced the Galaxy S9 and S9+. Here’s everything you should know about these new phones, including their most exciting new features! Read More . You can argue about which phone offers the best features and overall package, but remember, we’re only interested in comparing the screens.

And in the battle of the screens, the Samsung Galaxy S9 wins. Seriously, it’s better than the iPhone X. Don’t believe us?

Let’s refer back to our good friends at DisplayMate. Here’s what the company said about the Galaxy’s screen:

“Based on our extensive Lab Tests and Measurements, the Galaxy S9 has an impressive display that establishes many new display performance records, earning DisplayMate’s Best Performing Smartphone Display Award, and receiving our highest ever A+ grade.”

The phone set two new records: For “Highest Absolute Color Accuracy,” its 0.7 JNCD (Just Noticeable Color Difference) beat the iPhone’s 0.9 JNCD.

The S9 also won “Smallest Shifts in Brightness and Color with Viewing Angle.” The review even went as far as the call the color accuracy “visually indistinguishable from perfect.” The Galaxy S9’s screen also introduced three new features that were previously unseen on any smartphones:

  • Luminance independence: A peak brightness that does not interfere with lower average picture levels when used in ambient light.
  • User-adjustable white point: The idea of adjusting a screen’s color temperature is nothing new, but the S9 allows you to only set the temperature of white pixels, leaving the rest untouched. You can set the temperature to between 6,800K and 8,600K.
  • Vision accessibility display modes: Designed to help people with visual impairments, a new color lens mode offers 12 types of color filtering with selective transparency.

    Meanwhile, the color adjustment mode lets the user adjust colors interactively based on their visual similarity.

Elsewhere, it offers 529PPI and a resolution of 2220×1080 pixels. Perhaps none of this should come as a surprise. In its iPhone X review, DisplayMate praised Samsung for developing and manufacturing the OLED hardware in the device.

The S9 merely took the next step.

Compare to OnePlus 6’s Screen and Display

The only other phone screen that can come close to rivaling the iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy S9 is the OnePlus 6. It was released in May 2018. There’s no denying that this phone’s screen is incredible.

It’s a considerable step up on every other flagship phone that’s available today. But alas, it’s not as good as its two competitors. However, in the interests of completion, let’s take a quick look at what it offers.

The 2280×1080 resolution offers a pixel density of 402PPI. That’s less than the S9 (529) and the iPhone X (458), but it still marks an upgrade on previous OnePlus models. It also lags behind the other two phones when it comes to viewing angle.

According to independent testing, you’re liable to experience color fringing when using the screen at a closer-than-typical distance. Broadly speaking, pixels are unresolvable past 12 inches. The phone also struggles with color temperature.

Whereas the S9 earned praise for its adjustable white point, the OnePlus’ sRGB and DCI-P3 display profiles show whites at 6276K. That’s too warm; 6504K is considered the standard for white. Unfortunately, the repercussion of the excessively warm OnePlus display is skewed color accuracy.

The upper half of the red saturation range is below average.

The iPhone X’s Screen Is Good, But Not the Best

If you’re buying a phone based solely on screen quality, the clear winner is the Samsung Galaxy S9. The iPhone X is the runner-up, with the OnePlus 6 in a distant third. However, all three models are significantly better than any other flagship phone on the market.

If you’d like to compare other areas of the Android vs. iPhone debate, check out which mobile operating system is best for gaming iPad and iPhone vs. Android: What’s Best for Mobile Games? iPad and iPhone vs. Android: What’s Best for Mobile Games? Android and iOS offer two different experiences in every facet.

But is an iPhone better than a Pixel for mobile gaming? Let’s find out. Read More and which phone OS is best for security Android vs. iPhone: Which Is More Secure in 2017? Android vs. iPhone: Which Is More Secure in 2017? But before you rush out and buy a new smartphone, consider this: which is the most secure smartphone operating system? Is it an Android device or an iPhone?

Let’s look at the facts. Read More .

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