Reviews of 4K Projectors

There are 4K projectors, and then there are 4K Projectors – to paraphrase James Bond in Casino Royale. 

Sony's VPL-HW300ES is one projector that offers true 4K resolution.

Sony’s VPL-HW300ES is one projector that offers true 4K resolution.

That is, some projectors have true 4K resolution while others can accept 4K content, and use techniques to get improved results out of 2K projectors.

This section’s list of projectors includes both types, that is projectors with true 4K panels/chips, and those accepting 4K content that are 2K projectors, but using techniques to put something on the screen that has higher resolution than 2K.  That means we are including projectors using pixel shifting, such as currently shipping JVC home theater projectors and Epson home theater, and business projectors,  it also includes some  “shipping soon” projectors supporting a new “above 2K” DLP chip, that’s really 4 a megapixel chip with pixel shifting, that meets the 4K UHD standard.  True 4K is 8 megapixels, these 4K UHD chips, are 4 megapixels but fire twice with the pixel shifting to deliver 8 megapixels, for the 4K claim.  By comparison, pixel shifting 1080p projectors like the JVCs and Epsons only deliver 4 megapixels of data not 8.

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I previewed one in the 4K UHD DLP prototype projectors in the DLP suite at the CES show, while Optoma showed one on the show floor, and BenQ announced one.  See my blog regarding the new chip.

The era of 4K projectors is really just getting going.  At the moment there are a few true 4K projectors and a number of other ones that can accept and process 4K content.  The numbers may be few now, but by 2018, projectors accepting 4K content or doing pure 4K will be far more common, and prices will fall dramatically.

At this time (1/2016) there are four different classes – types of projectors claiming something of being 4K.

True 4K Projectors!  There are a few true 4K projectors, there will shortly be “3K” projectors claiming to be 4K, using pixel shifting techniques, and there are already 2K (1080p) projectors using pixel shifting that can accept 4K content.

True 4K projectors are pretty rare.  As of this time, only Sony is offering true 4K projectors for home, while Sony and Canon have models shipping for business/education.  Note, both are LCoS technologyThose would be true 4K projectors –  they essentially use 8 megapixel devices (whether DLP, 3LCD or LCoS). They have the smallest sized pixels thus can provide maximum resolution.

Reviews of 4K Projectors

Reviews of 4K Projectors Reviews

Image Review MRSP Technology
Epson Home Cinema 4000 Home Theater Projector Review$21993LCD
Sony VPL-VZ1000ES Laser, True 4K, Home Theater Projector Review$24,999SXRD-3
Epson Pro Cinema LS10500 Laser Home Theater Projector – Review$79993LCD on Quartz (LCoQ)
The Astonishing Epson Pro Cinema 4040 Home Theater Projector – Review$26993LCD
Sony VPL-VW5000ES Home Theater Projector Review$60,000SXRD (3)
Sony VPL-VW365ES 4K Home Theater Projector Review$9999SXRD (3)
Epson Home Cinema 5040UB, Pro Cinema 6040UB Home Theater Projector Review$26993LCD
Epson Pro G7905U Large Venue Projector Review$64993LCD
Epson Powerlite Pro L1500, L1505 Laser Projector Review$219993LCD
JVC DLA-RS600U, X950R Home Theater Projector Review$9995D-ILA-3
Sony VPL-VW665ES 4K Home Theater Projector Review$14999SXRD (3)
Epson LS10000 vs JVC DLA-RS6710 – Two Awesome HT Projectors, Updated$
JVC DLA-RS6710U, RS67U, X900R, 4K Home Theater Projector Review$12495D-ILA
Sony VPL-VW350ES Home Theater Projector Review$9999SXRD (3)
Epson Pro Cinema LS10000 Projector Review: Update$
Sony VPL-VW1100ES 4K Projector – A Review$27999SXRD (3)
Epson Pro Cinema LS10000 Laser Home Theater Projector – Review$79993LCD on Quartz (LCoQ)
Sony VPL-VW600ES 4K Home Theater Projector$14999LCOS 3 Panel

About 4K Projectors

Sony VW5000

Sony’s flagship 4K Laser projector: The VPL-VW5000

2K Pixel shifting projectors using 1080p or other 2 megapixel devices (panels/chips). The pixel structure is far larger – that is, each pixel is 4X the size of a true 4K.  The each pixel fires twice, after shifting diagonally by half a pixel, so it can resolve a bit more detail from 4K content that without pixel shifting, but due to the pixel size, I don’t see them as true 4K devices.  They can market it that way, but with 4K content if you have fine lines in your image – big difference.

Those pixel shifting projectors’ claim to “4K space” is in their ability to accept 4K content, not their ability to fully resolve it.

3K Pixel Shifting Projectors:  Next – this third class is higher resolution than the “2K pixel shifters”.  I’m talking about those using TI’s new 4 megapixel DLP chip.  Read that carefully – we’re talking 4 megapixels, not 4K resolution.  4K resolution is 8 megapixels (3840×2160 or similar).  The resolution is  I don’t have the spec yet – which works out to really being a 3K projector.

TI’s new chip will have pixel shifting capabilities so that will place their new projectors that use it, almost exactly half way between the 2K pixel shifters, and the true 4K projectors when it comes to resolution.

The thing is that the UHD 4K standard counts the TI chip as being 4K.  The argument is based on addressability, though not resolution.  Since the chip has 4 million pixels, and each one fires once, then shifts and fires again, with possibly different data, that’s 8 million addressable, which is the same number has having a true 4K chip with each pixel firing only once.

OK, I get it, but the pixels are still twice the size, and they are overlapping, that means they just can’t resolve near as much detail

Finally the 4th type of “4K” projector doesn’t exist yet.  Basically those will be some additional projectors using 1080p or WUXGA chip sets (but no pixel shifting), but add the ability to take in 4K content, deal with it and project it best it can, just like 720p projectors can accept 1080p content.

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4K Projector Pricing

As of January of 2016, there are few 4K projectors shipping.  The least expensive on the home theater side, has a list price of $9999, the most expensive (short of a true commercial movie theater projector) is $60,000

On the commercial/education/business side, prices are even higher to start.  For example Canon’s only 4K projector is $54,990.  Sony’s got a few models so prices come down into the $20K range. Of course over the next couple of years we should see far more 4K projectors shipping, and that will drive prices down considerably.

“Pixel shifting 4K projectors” for the home market start at $4000 for the least expensive JVC and $8K for the Epson LS10000 laser projector.

No pricing at the time of this writing for the first of those 4 Megapixel projectors, the first to ship is likely to be an Optoma, which is expected to ship Q1 2016.

Conclusion

Perhaps the most important message was the first one.  If you need the absolute best resolution, you are talking about a true 4K projector – one with about 8 million separate pixels, that will hit your screen with light without any overlap.

There will be plenty of 1080p and WUXGA resolution projectors coming that will be able to accept 4K content, but no matter what the image processing, it all comes down to the most important thing being relative pixel size.  A 2K (1080p, etc.) pixel is still huge by comparison, and a 3K DLP chip is still using pixels that are 2X that of a true 4K projector.

There is need for 4K.  For home, with a true 4K projector you can finally sit close enough to a screen to get really immersed and still have a razor sharp image.  For other uses, the resolution aids in presenting anything requiring great detail, renderings, engineering, satellite photos…

4K Projectors – It’s about time!

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