I first saw a VPL-VW1000ES Home THEATER Projector at CEDIA last fall. OK, everything always looks better in a fully blacked out demo room at a trade show, then in the real world. Still, I really was dazzled. There were some obvious issues with the prototype, but the projector, “cleaned up” had to be excellent. January came, and at CES I got another 15 minute look (actually two of them) at the VW1000ES. This time, the artifacts and other issues were pretty much gone. And Wow!
I’ve been begging and pleading to get my hands on one for review, pretty much since CEDIA. The Sony team is great, and, I do understand, I realize I’m not at the top of the food chain for review units, and these babies are particularly scarce.
Well, my turn has come. Monday – two days ago, morning brings me two big shipping containers on wheels. I know the VPL-VW1000ES is big and heavy, so I’m not planning on bouncing it back and forth between the downstairs testing room and the theater above it. So, I open them up, from the first, remove a huge HP PC server, loaded with 4K content I was told – it’s not like you can just order 4K from Amazon. The second case was just for the 22 inch LCD monitor for the computer.
An hour later two of Sony’s finest arrived. Their names will be changed to protect the innocent. We’ll just call them Rock, and Roll. Well Rock arrived first, from San Diego, while Roll descended upon me from LA. Rock had the VPL-VW1000ES, which immediately joined the server upstairs.
I don’t even remember what we put on first. We viewed a 4K trailer for the new Spiderman movie (saw that at CES too), Hugo in 3D, A quick look at Casino Royale for the train scene, and a delicious 4K train ride through the Rockies, complements of Stephen Low, the producer of Ulitimate Wave Tahiti 3D and Legends of Flight 3D, two of my favorite pieces of content for the sheer beauty, and knowledge.
Some of the content, but not most, was in 2.35:1. That allowed me the largest image on my 124″ 2.35:1 screen. On 16×9 content, I basically have a mere 96″ diagonal screen. (I’m planning on “fixing that” in the near future.).
Let’s cut to the chase. This is, first of all, a reasonably bright projector, calibrating out to more than 1500 lumens with the lens on wide angle. That’s a ball park number. Mike hasn’t sent me his report with the measurements and calibration settings. BTW, 40+ lb. beast that the VW1000ES is, we decided Mike would do all his measurement and calibration work in my theater, instead of taking the Sony projector over to his place, as is typical for home theater reviews. That’s all done now.
This link will take you to a 1000 pixel wide image that is a closeup of the same frame, just looking at the big tower on the left side. It truly is impressive to have that much detail. Huge!
Well, here’s what matters. First, the VW1000ES s plenty bright, (and quiet with lamp on high). It’s just a pleasure to bathe in all those lumens. For 16:9 I mostly have been running low lamp.
Next, the picture quality. The projector looks great, “right out of the box” with my favorite 2K content. I even broke out Star Wars IV for the opening 5 minutes. Everything looks sharper. I take a quick look and sharpness default is at 10, out of 100. And Reality Creation – their dynamic package, also is at very low settings. No matter that this is a 3 panel projector, I don’t believe any single chip DLP coming through here, has looked sharper on 2K (1080p, 1080i) content. Even at the moment my wife and I are watching American Idol, and the sets look great, the outfits colors jump out. It was the same thing with Star Wars. All of a sudden I’m noticing the detail in the scrapes and metal finishes on R2D2 and C3PO – and everywhere else. It’s hard, really, to see 2K content look this detailed. It’s like a veil has been lifted. Note that I fired up the JVC DLA-X70R and switched back and forth. No contest. Not sharpness, but the wow and pop was stunning, though I concede that the poor JVC was badly outmuscled. That of course is the benefit of a bright projector, you get to watch at the brightness that makes you happy, rather than being limited by the projector. On smaller screens with more than minimal gain, brightness could almost become a problem. Not in my theater though.
Getting back to Rock and Roll. We decided to check out the 3D, so naturally I grabbed Hugo. Rock, I believe, had not yet seen Hugo, so was doubly impressed. Some have expressed complaint about the quality of the 3D? Many scenes, on the other hand, are truly compelling in 3D. certainly all the clock works – well, works. It worked doubly so with the Sony VPL-VW1000ES. Brightness in 3D was good. Not a lot to spare, but it can do respectable 3D on a 100″ screen without risking overt dimness. Hugo has many darkish scenes, yet the movie stayed vibrant. That’s all I ask for. 3D seemed really clean. I haven’t gotten back to it since then, but any crosstalk / ghosting was minimal I believe. I wasn’t hunting, I was just taking it all in.
Everything looks great in 2K, but viewing the 4K content was relatively breathtaking. I will post a 3 or 4 images to impress you with, tomorrow. I’m shooting images now. I already took all my 4K images first night, because that server that Rock and Roll delivered had to be packed up, and this morning (Wednesday) Fedex picked it up, for a long trip to Australia. I’m telling you, few VW1000ES’s around for press, trade shows, and demoing, and apparently they are shipping the server all over the place. I am most honored to have the VW1000ES, or certainly should be. (A little pandering here can’t hurt, just in case someone Sony is reading this).
Well, back to the VPL-VW1000ES projector. It has one really major flaw. It’s $25,000. No matter how much arm twisting is involved, very, very few of us will find one of these within reach. It’s a 1%er. OK, probably more like a 5%er with a real serious home theater hobby. I can’t afford to buy a $25,000 projector, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. The only real downside is you are paying now in part for something that’s going to be really scarce for a year or two, at least, and that’s 4K content.
Before I go further, the Sony VW1000ES design is somewhat fluid. Sony is confident that it will be compatible with still forthcoming standards, for example for HDMI, a new Blu-ray resolution… Rock and Roll expressed that there’s a lot of fluidity, so that the customer will be taken care of to keep the Sony fully capable for some time. In other words, expect firmware updates. I have no manual, but I don’t think this puppy has wifi. Hey, it might be two years – or longer – before we see a 4K Blu-ray disc. On the other hand, we might be able to buy and download from the iTunes store.
This is it. 20 hours of viewing so far. Definitely my all time favorite projector. I’m factoring in what it can do with 4K material, but my initial impressions are that its easily more than a match for the Runco LS10 and the SIM2 Nero 3D2, just doing 2K both similarly priced projectors up there in the lower stratosphere.
I’ll be running more JVC X70 against the Sony VPL-VW1000ES in my theater, but that means no side by side comparisons. No matter, Mike’s calibrated Sony, even in Eco mode is brighter than any mode the JVC has. So I’m sticking to watching one at a time, and I’m watching a slightly larger image on the Sony (and running eco mode) to minimize the brightness difference. As a side note, black levels are really good. They still won’t match the JVC’s blacks without sacrificing dynamic range, but overall, I’d say “close enough” When I watched the opening of Star Wars IV (the first), despite the blacks, the Sony blew away the JVC. No contest.
Alls fair – the Sony projector is over 3 times the price of the JVC.
I sure hope Sony doesn’t need this projector next week. So far, it was only the server that had to flee the country.
I mentioned the Sony is large, and over 40 pounds. It is finished in a coarse dark gray surface with a rough feel to it. It looks, and means all business. - or pleasure. The Sony VW1000ES even sports a DCI mode. Folks, for those not familiar, think that’s the color space used in the theaters. We’re getting by in TV and Projector land, with REC 709 and similar, none of which can match the color gamut of DCI. Let’s hope when we start getting real 4K content, it is also DCI. Sweet. Then, our better home theaters will blow away the local cineplex in every way meaningful except for the popcorn.
Enough. Much to do. My apologies for not being around recently. Always busy this time of year, with the home theater projector report, which is still being added to (not much longer), and our education projector report, which I’m deep in the midst of. And of course I had to squeeze in the NAB show, and also three gloriously hot days at Coachella.
Well, by mid-month, I’ll be done with the reports, and other than a week’s vacation, back in the full grind, with more regular blogging. Remember, now we are in the age of Social, so I now have to also spend some time with youtube projects and with Facebook. (it would be great if you Liked us) Social marketing is seems, is hard work for a small biz.