Sony VPL-VW1000ES Projector Review

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE: Sony VPL-VW1000ES ”Projector Reviews TV” Video Summary

Let’s just start this review off with some big statements:   This is the first true 4K projector I’ve reviewed, and it’s “only” $24,999!  I have reviewed a few $20K+ projectors, and so far, this is simply the best picture I’ve seen/reviewed.  It is 4K, which is technically four times the resolution of 1080p, as it has twice as many pixels across, and twice as many top to bottom.  The VPL-VW1000ESt is also 3D capable (and comes with 3D glasses- ready to go).

I’m just dazzled by this projector.  I thought it was outstanding when I first saw it at CEDIA ’11.  The VPL-VW1000ES projector (pre-production) had some issues back then, but the overall potential was obvious.  At the CES show in January, it was even better.  The minor image defects were nicely cleaned up, and I was really blown away.   Now I’ve had a chance to work with the Sony VW1000ES for about a month.  Bottom line:  I want one.  I can’t really afford one, but my theater is crying out for one.

Even at its $25K – out of the range of the vast majority of us – price, it can justify that price against any of the other premium priced projectors, and it can certainly justify its price relative to far less expensive projectors including those JVC’s that “claim” 4K, but really aren’t true 4K.

I am pleased to announce that I have found this year’s “Holy Grail” of a Home Theater projector.  Congratulations to Sony, as the VPL-VW1000ES is awarded our 2012 Outstanding Product of the Year.  We say “product” as this award doesn’t always go to a projector, but, this year it is a projector, so perhaps you could think of this award as reading 2012 Outstanding Projector of the Year.  Either way, the projector’s pretty awesome.

Enough praise for now, let’s look at the “why”.  Time to delve into this Sony projector and all its features, benefits, and capabilities.  This projector not only looks great, but is rather laden with features. That is quite often not the case with some high end projectors which are very focused on performance, but not so much on some of the niceties.

Sony VPL-VW1000ES Projector Highlights

  • True 4K resolution, 3D capable projector
  • Supports 4K, and will support new 4K standards as they emerge (ie. Blu-ray)
  • Much brighter than average in “best mode”
  • Excellent post calibration color
  • Support for DCI color space (see below)
  • Ultra high contrast projector
  • Zoom lens (1.6:1) offers good placement flexibility
  • Adjustable vertical and horizontal lens shift
  • Sony’s dynamic iris is very smooth, or can be run manually
  • MotionFlow for smooth motion (CFI)
  • Dark gray matte finish (coarse) with the front a shiney black.
  • Supports an anamorphic lens, and has a form of “lens memory” for those wanting widescreen without using an anamorphic lens

Sony VPL-VW1000ES Projector Overview

The VPL-VW1000Es is a physically pretty large projector (and weighs in at over 40 pounds. You’ll almost certainly mount this projector. After all, this baby is built for a home theater, and will blend in nicely.

You don’t need anything this good in a room not laid out well for viewing.  Oh it has enough lumens to function in some less than ideal rooms, as it is brighter than most home theater projectors on the market, but that really isn’t what the Sony VPL-VW1000ES is about.  It is about a truly stunning picture, and its 4K resolution, which makes even 2K content look better, whether or not you let the projector upscale the content to 4K.  OK, true 4K content is sort of MIA, but it is coming.  And Sony is just announcing that we will all be able to use our Sony PS3 players to show 4K photos that we take with our better point and shoot cameras.  (Technically this Sony’s 4K is 8.8 megapixels).

A few of the images throughout this review are standard 2K content. We used the 2K to 4K upscaling for most of our viewing, and in many of the images shown here. We have only a few, true 4K content, and will clearly advise you what is really 4K content.

VPL-VW1000ES Brightness: Not much to complain about here.  Calibrated this projector musters about 1200 lumens.  In 2D that’s a ton of brightness in a decent home theater environment (lighting control, mostly dark surfaces).  With that many calibrated lumens you can easily fill a 150″ screen, if that’s your need.  Remember, calibrated, it only takes about 400 lumens or so to meet the movie theater basic brightness standard 12 ft-lamberts for a 100″ diagonal screen. The Sony actually has one mode, that measures only 330 lumens, (Cinema2) but interestingly, Cinema 2 doesn’t look near as good as Reference mode, which calibrates beautifully and produces those roughly 1200 lumens! Mike has some comments about this strange case of a projector actually being at its brightest when calibrated.  (See the Performance and Calibration pages).

It really is only 3D where lumens are a bit thin. True, this Sony projector has more calibrated lumens for 3D than any of those lower cost JVCs can muster (or Sony’s less expensive models), even in their least pretty/ or accurate brightest modes. Of good quality projectors doing 3D, only that Panasonic and a few Epson’s can do 3D substantially brighter, and even then, only by about 60%, brighter in their brightest – least accurate – modes.  Those Epsons and Panasonics though, calibrated are all under 650 lumens. In fact, I don’t believe, until this Sony, any 3D capable projector we’ve reviewed has been able to do more than 900 lumens calibrated, and only a very few do more than 650!   Remember, we consider 500 lumens average, for a calibrated home theater.

This is an overview page, and I hadn’t intended to spend so much time in brightness this early.  Let’s consider some of the other goodies, many discussed in detail in the Special Features section.

Most of the features are “standard” on higher quality home theater projectors.  They include:  CFI -basically smooth motion - Sony MotionFlow, for sports and other applications where you like it.

Dynamic iris for excellent black level performance (and manual, and hybrid iris modes as well.

The lens offers 2.1:1 zoom, that’s as long as it gets, offering exceptional placement flexibility, and of course, there’s a good deal of both vertical and horizontal lens shift.

More goodies?

Reality Creation – I’ll call that a dynamic sharpening feature.  This rates a real wow, thanks to the 4K resolution of the VPL-VW1000ES projector.

There is also automatic panel alignment which we’re seeing in more and more 3 panel/chip projectors, for improved pixel alignment.

And there’s lens memory, or rather, automatic resizing, for those of us with “Cinemascope” shaped screens (ie. 2.35:1 or 2.40:1).

Below we’ll discuss a number of these items, and others on later pages in this review of the Sony VPL-VW1000ES projector.

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