Best In Class – Performance $8000+: Sony VPL-VZ1000ES

I had much fun with the VPL-VZ1000ES when I reviewed it this past summer. First, Sony provided it to me, with the caveat that I could only have it for a short period of time. But, due to a variety of things on Sony’s end, I got to have it for a full month, and more than 100 hours of serious viewing.

The VZ1000ES isn’t your garden variety Sony true 4K home theater projector. It’s got a hefty $24,995 list price, and for that you are getting an ultra short throw laser projector! There are a couple of other Sony ultra short throw laser projectors geared for specific commercial applications, but to my knowledge, this is the only true 4K projector with a laser engine (or without), that is ultra short throw.

Sony VZ1000ES Front
This Sony VPL-VZ1000ES is an ultra short throw, true 4K projector sporting 2500 lumens!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That makes it doubly interesting. 2500 lumens, when combined with ultra short throw design, and paired wit a bright room ALR (light rejecting) screen, this VZ1000ES is just as at home in your living room with ambient light present as it is in a dedicated home theater. And, I suspect Sony will sell far more into non-dedicated theater environments overall, that is, “media rooms” multi-purpose rooms, master bedrooms, and the usual living and family rooms. The ability to do battle in “regular rooms,” against today’s LCDTV’s, which even at this price, are far smaller, could prove huge to Sony’s sales of the VZ1000ES.

Sony VPL-VZ1000ES Overview

Let’s deal with the rest of the basics. There actually is a small amount of zoom, almost unheard of on an ultra short throw, but Sony is smart – this projector can sit on credenza. But, considering the overall price, there’s going to be a lot of custom work to set it into a cabinet. The projector is specifically designed for that, in many ways, including the way the inputs are on the side, but exit out the back (closest to the screen).

It’s not only “true” 4K, it’s DCI resolution 4K – 4096×2160 compared to the usual 3840×2160. It has a slightly wider aspect ratio, or slightly higher resolution depending on your perspective. HDR, of course, both the usual HDR10 standard and the HLG – Hybrid Log-Gamma the newer, HDR specifically for 4K streaming (still in its infancy). The combination of a laser, and, a bit of Sony’s skills and here’s a projector that has no trouble rivaling the best of the other projectors tackling P3/BT.2020 color space, for the most intense colors yet to show up at home.

Black level performance is as expected – extremely good. I found it to be better than the $15K VW665ES reviewed last year (now the 675ES with the addition of HLG). Black frames turn off the laser engine. Other than that, good as they are, the VZ1000ES can’t match the RS620 our Value winner in this Class. It wins on black frames, but, hey, JVC always wins on how dark the rest of dark scenes can be.

OK, got all that?

Viewing – it was killer in my home theater. Plenty of power for my sports with moderate ambient light, despite not having a screen designed for an ultra-short throw projector.  Had I placed the 100” SI Black Diamond UST I used with it downstairs in the living room, on my home theater wall, the Sony should have been even more amazing than my on my Studiotek 130.

Epson’s LS10500, the $8K laser I gave this same performance award in the next down Class, looked very similar, but of course that’s only a 1080p pixel shifter not true 4K.  But, with the extra horsepower, the Sony really just looked MORE, brighter, more dynamic, more pop, more wow. OK, for 3X the price, fair enough, but the point is really that other than Sony’s own VW5000ES, their $60K, flagship, this is the best picture I’ve ever seen in my theater.

The Bottom Line

There’s a but…

But, I also moved the projector downstairs into my ridiculously bright living room.  During the day, depending on the time of day and the weather, that room varies from moderately bright (solid overcast), to massively bright about 3 hours before sunset. My house has a “worst one minute of the day,” that is brighter than everything short of outside on the beach on a sunny day.

The VZ1000ES didn’t do as well as I had hoped there. It flunked the worst one minute of the day, but, I can’t blame the projector. Truth is, the SI Black Diamond just wasn’t up to dealing with the unusual aspects of my room. I’ve seen this projector, and also photos of other bright rooms, where it looks killer. Here was my problem, just to be warned.

I put it on a white 8 foot table. Sunlight was hitting the table (but not the screen.) The floors are light tile, also reflecting sunlight toward the screen.  One wall is sun bathed, and the screen cannot reject side lighting because, if you think about it, from the lens, it’s almost straight over to the sides to light up the lower corners of the screen. It didn’t help either that sunlight was also reflecting off of our waterfall feature straight back from the screen. Nasty stuff. My other ALR screen with a 4000-lumen projector was drastically better, but in most bright rooms this combination of screen and Sony projector should be spectacular. Just know that the room does matter, and mine is pure “torture test.”

Other than that, I’d love to have the VZ1000ES in my home theater. That would keep me happy until it’s time for a true 8K projector, and that’s definitely a few years away!

VPL-VZ1000ES_hdtv_football_ambient-light_2
The Sony VPL-VZ1000ES looked great, even in a partially darkened room.

Beautiful picture, with excellent black levels, intensely rich color, capable of looking great in all but the worlds brightest rooms. (Ah, you should have seen how great it looked at night in my living room, even with lights on. Wait, that’s the picture right above!)

If you don’t want to have a dedicated theater, or your thing is just sports, and everything not in the dark, I doubt there’s a better projector on the market at any price.

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