Outstanding Product Of The Year: Sony VPL-VW1000ES 4K Projector
6/8/2012 - Art Feierman
ProjectorReviews.com is pleased to award Sony's new, rather incredible, true 4K, and 3D capable, home cinema projector, our highest award: Outstanding Product of the Year. Perhaps we should have called the award Outstanding Projector of the Year but truth is, despite our company's projector focus, in the past, the award has been won by products that are not stand alone projectors Other breakthrough or leading edge products that have won previously include the first reliable wireless HDMI solution we found, and an all-in-one high quality home projector system complete with full high quality surround sound that can all be installed in hours, among other winners.
What is certain, is that of all the products we've reviewed in the last year, none, home projector, business projector or other devices, this is the product that stands out. I had been unable to pick this year's winner until the Sony came along. After that, it was a "slam-dunk" with this Sony projector overshadowing all the products considered until that moment.
Sony VPL-VW1000ES Home Cinema Projector
All the details, of course, reside in our full review, which you can access here (click for full VW1000ES review). This single page summarizes some of our key points, and rationale for the VW1000ES winning this year's top honor.
First and foremost, this is a true 4K projector. Let's get that straight folks - what that means is the panels in this Sony are a tad more than four times the resolution of 1080p - our current highest quality for the home. Current "2K" assuming 1080p is just over 2 million pixels (2.07). This Sony can handle content that's 8.8 million pixels.
Image above, from Hugo (2D version) upscaled to 4K, and projected with this Sony VW1000ES projector
How about some perspective: If you have owned a 720p projector and moved up to a 1080p projector, and recognize how much improvement there is, then note that 1080p is an increase of 2.25 times the resolution of 720p.
As I just mentioned, the jump from 1080p to 4K, is an increase we'll call four times the resolution. So, if you thought your move from 720p to 1080p was a huge improvement, imagine what 4K will do in your home theater, on that large screen!
4K is something new to "home theater". Of course, the advantage of true 4K benefits us projector owners far more than it will someone with a tiny little 42 or 50 inch LCDTV.
Nevermind that you cannot yet (6/2012) purchase 4K content, as far as movies go, nor find any 4K content on HDTV. About the only true 4K you can project, now in the middle of June 2012, are still photos. To accomplish this, for the moment you'll need a Sony PS3 as your player, and their new 4K edition of PlayMemories, (link to Sony's info) which PS3 owners can download from the Playstation network.
This will allow owners of the VPL-VW1000ES to view their highest resolution still images (9 megapixel or larger) in true 4K! How high? the 4K viewer is for images that are at least 9 megapixels. (the Sony has about 8.8 million pixels). I have had the opportunity to view still 4K images when the Sony VPL-VW1000ES was being reviewed, thanks to a server Sony also sent, which had true 4K still images and a little 4K movie footage as well.
Below, a couple of images from Star Wars Episode IV (the first movie). These were both upscaled from the standard Blu-ray disc, by the Sony projector:
As big a difference as Sony's Reality Creation feature makes, upscaling 2K to 4K (movies, stills, HDTV...), compared to a typical high quality 2K projector, moving up to original 4K content offers another dramatic improvement.
Consider this still image (also found in the full review), which was provided at 4K. Click on it, and you will see not the usual larger version (1000 pixel wide) of this image, but rather, a 1000 pixel wide enlargement of a small portion of the original, to better get a feel for how sharp this Sony can be with 4K content.
Cnet, earlier this year, indicated that Sony has been working with the Blu-ray folks to finish a Blu-ray 4K standard, as Sony wants to get the new Spiderman release this summer, out on 4K Blu-ray as soon as possible.
That is particularly relevant, for, as it turned out, Sony sent me a 4K resolution trailer for the Spiderman movie, and a PC server to run it off of. Stunning. The movie's probably going to be great, but of greater interest was the clarity of the trailer footage. The the full review has some close looks at the image sharpness of the Spiderman trailer.
For those of you familiar with direct Stephen Low who produces some excellent (semi-educational) 3D content (Tahiti 3D, Legends of Flight) on Blu-ray, has shot true 4K footage of a train ride through the Rockies. Sony provided more than 5 minutes of content from the Rocky Mountain Train
3D, I better mention, is also excellent!
This Sony also has support for the DCI color space - basically the standard used in the theaters. This offers a somewhat more dynamic image than what we're used to with home content (Blu-ray, HDTV).
If DCI should finally come to the home, look out, once this Sony has DCI content at 4K, considering everything, it should blow away your local megaplex experience! Truth is, even without, in most ways, the experience is already better with this Sony, and only 2K content.
The Sony is rather loaded with features, offers tremendous placement flexibility, and is unusually bright after being properly calibrated. In fact it measures out to about 1200 lumens calibrated, whereas we consider the average home theater projector to have about 500 lumens calibrated. The VPL-VW1000ES thanks to all those lumens projects a beautiful image bright enough to fill even a 150 inch diagonal screen, should you have the room, and the desire.
Bottom Line: The VPL-VW1000ES is simply the finest home cinema projector we've ever reviewed. It's not the most expensive, there are projectors many times the price, but consider this projector to be at least as good as any digital cinema projector you've ever seen in the theaters, and for that matter, at 4K, it's higher resolution than most which are still 2K. Sony, you may suspect seems to be the dominent provider of 4K digital cinema projectors in the US. Christie originally dominated (at least in the US) the digital cinema projector market, but Sony, more recently brought out the first 4K cinema projectors.
4K image above, click on it for a larger look at a very small section of this photo.
Sony's VPL-VW1000ES Home Cinema Projector - I want one!
Thanks for reading. Check out the full review -art