Sony VPL-VW5000ES Home Theater Projector Review

The basics are this – Sony’s VPL-VW5000ES is at the moment the best true 4K home theater projector currently shipping.  There are more coming to market, but for now, the VW5000ES is unbeatable.  Sony’s flagship VW5000ES is a $60,000, 5000 lumen true 4K.  It’s huge by home theater standards, weighs 94 pounds, and is liquid cooled.  But folks, those are details.  The big picture is that it’s all about the picture.

This review will not be like our usual.  It will be far shorter, and even more subjective. That is, it’s going to focus on the experience and the picture – why not, after all, with the high price tag this is a projector for the top 1%.  (or the top 5% of hard core home theater enthusiasts).  I picked this VPL-VW5000ES (it’s full name) up at Sony’s HQ after getting some training there on HDR and other aspects of 4K.  (Thanks Sony – most helpful)  The picture looked so great and so obviously close to right on the money, that I decided not to have Eric calibrate it.  I was never sorry.  I have decided also not to run the usual measurements.  I pulled out my meter long enough to determine that this guy was right around 5000 lumens in its brightest modes.  If you spring for one of these, you’ll quickly discover that there isn’t a whole lot of brightness differences between most of the different modes.

For those of you who enjoy our many photos from movies and HDTV, you won’t be disappointed.  I have plenty comparable to other projector reviews.

OK, back to the basics!

VPL-VW5000ES Basics - continued

The VW5000ES comes with all the trimmings:  A pair of HDMI 2.0 inputs, with HDCP 2.2, needed for Blu-ray UHD and some other 4K standards. It’s standard zoom lens is huge my most HT projectors standards.  If it won’t work for your setup, rejoice in knowing that in addition to the standard 2.1:1 motorized zoom lens, Sony has a short throw lens available (also fully motorized).

The images above consist of the first four from various HDTV.  The next three are from Blu-ray disc.  Then comes three 4K Blu-ray UHD movie images.  Finally the last two of Scarlet Johansen, show her first from Blu-ray disc, and the second from 4K UHD disc, with HDR engaged.  I’ll be talking a good bit about HDR and it’s trade-offs later on. -art

Focus, zoom, and lens shift are all motorized allowing for Lens Memory functionality, which in this case means being able to save up to five different settings to best fill your screen depending on your content’s aspect ratio. That could be 16:9, 2.35:1, 2.37:1, 2.40:1, etc.  (over the years widescreen movies aspect ratios have varied slightly).

Now let me repeat myself:  This Sony is a true 4K projector – and I mean that.  An engineer might tell you that most “4K” projectors right now aren’t 4K, rather they do 4K UHD, which is 4X the res of 1080p.

This Sony is not  3840×2160 (which is double 1080p, both vertically and horizontally), for 4X the pixels..

Not this Sony.  It is a true 4096×2160, which really is around 5% more pixels, but more importantly it is the same as the digital projectors in at the local 4K cineplex. So it’s the truest 4K.  But generally we’re not all engineers, so I’ll call true 4K projectors who’s pixel size is no more than 1/4th that of 1080p pixels.

VPL-VW5000ES 4K projector with background image
VPL-VW5000ES – Sony’s flagship true 4K projector – rivals digital cinema projectors – $60,000 and 5000 lumens of amazing, all for the price of a mid range Lexus

This Sony, unlike most, supports 18Ghz hdmi allowing for 4K/60fps at high bit depths (more in the Special Features page).

Before I do highlights, here are the rest of the Sony’s 4K home theater line-up, in descending order:

The new VPL-VZ1000ES – a 2500 lumens ultra short throw laser projector, just announced at CES with a price of $10 per lumen – aka $24,999. Half as bright, but should be an excellent alternative for those who find this Sony beyond their budget.  We will be reviewing soon.

(There’s also the VW1100ES, which won’t go away – once the flagship, it isn’t up on all the latest 4K such as HDR – so I suspect that product will end – when they run out of inventory.) $27,999

The VPL-VW675ES which recently replaced the VW665ES we reviewed in 2016.  The primary difference is support for hybrid log-gamma (more later).  $14,999

The VPL VW365ES – is the least expensive at $9999, no hybrid log-gamma, more modest black level performance.  $9999.

Sony VPL-VW6000ES Highlights

  • Amazing picture
  • Much brighter than most HT projectors (a very good thing)
  • Support for 4K, HDR, larger color spaces BT2020, 4:4:4
  • Very quiet (liquid cooled)
  • Laser light engine – long life – no lamps to replace, other benefits
  • Lens Memory
  • 1,000,000 contrast ratio thanks to Dynamic iris for deeper blacks, and no light on black frames
  • 3 year parts and labor warranty
  • Backlit remote
  • Stackable for double the brightness
  • Lots of lens shift – both horizontal and vertical
  • Sony’s Reality Creation firmware upscales 1080 content to 4K

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