Sony VPL-VW600ES 4K Home Theater Projector
VW600ES offers true 4K Ultra-HD resolution
4K resolution is long overdue for projectors. While one can debate if anyone really needs 4K resolution on a 37 inch LCDTV, when you are sitting 6-15 feet back, it’s immediately obvious to anyone with a projector (most screens are 92″ to 130″ diagonal), that 1080p simply hasn’t been enough to create a really sharp image on perhaps a 110″ image being viewed from 10-15 feet back.
While various smart detail enhancement features like Sony’s own Reality Creation add to the perceived sharpness and detail on 1080p projectors, there is no contest when compared to a true 4K projector like this Sony. Even comparing 1080p source material, the VW600ES is obviously much sharper looking, and when you see true 4K content, well, it just about makes 1080p look like how 1080p made pre-HDTV TVs look: Almost blurry by comparison.
In the image pairs above, all the source material was true 4K of 3840×2160 pixels, except for the first pair (luggage) from HDTV at 1080i, and the last pair, which is from Skyfall, standard 1080p. 1080p projectors don’t have enough resolution for all those scrabble letters to be reasonably easy to read. With this Sony 4K projector, even though the source material is 1080p, the letters (thought a bit soft) are obviously readable when you look at the close-up.
Reality Creation on the Sony was set for the default 20, which is a pretty low level of “detail enhancement”.
Multi-functional Dynamic iris on VW600ES
Most dynamic irises offer a choice of off or on. In some cases, for example Epson, there’s a high speed and a normal speed iris option.
Sony’s approach is different. First of all, they realize that the VPL-VW600 ES projector is very bright. Bright enough that in some theaters, it might be too bright for some owners using a smaller screen, say 100″ diagonal or less. For that reason, you can leave the iris in Dynamic mode, but set the maximum the iris opens. That limits how bright the projector can be, while still having the iris lower black levels on dark scenes.
Or you can turn off the dynamic iris (the blacks are still respectable), or just use it manually.
The iris action itself is interesting. The VW1000ES projector (the original 4K Sony, now replaced by the $27,000 VW1100ES, also exhibits this characteristic: The iris is sensitive to extremely small amounts of bright area on an image, in fact sensitive to amounts of bright that don’t register with most other dynamic irises. The classic example is the pause icon (double bars) that appear in the lower left when you pause a disk played on a PS3.
Most typical is that hitting pause on a dark scene like the Casino Royale night train scene has no effect on the iris with most projectors. With this Sony VPL-VW600 ES projector, that amount of “bright” does register and the iris opens a bit. Thus, in the dark scene images shown in the Black Levels section of the Picture Quality pages, blacks don’t get as black when pauses, as they do when just viewing the film. The thing is, the black levels are excellent for this projector, so even with the iris opening a bit, the blacks still look great. Even the far less bright, and small Input graphic (ie. HDMI 2 in the upper left corner which isn’t near as bright as the pause icon, is enough that you can see the iris adapt.
Overall, the iris action is noticeable on slowly lightening ver dark scenes, as I found in Ender’s Game, but also when viewing credits (white) on black. As there’s more or less text, that can affect the iris.
Not the most invisible iris in the world when working, but it is chronically smooth, never jerky, so one tends not to notice unless “looking.”
Reality Creation – Sony’s detail enhancement solution does an excellent job on 2K (1080p or 1080i) content and by using smart technologies (i.e. recognizing what area is a face, and treating it differently than other parts of the image), is, in my opinion the best of the smart detail enhancement solutions found on 2K projectors (Including BenQ’s “Detail Enhancement”, Epson’s Super-Resolution, and JVC’s 4K e-shift2).
But this is a 4K projector and that changes everything. Now 2K content really can be enhanced so that the results are significantly better / sharper / more detailed looking on this 4K projector than any 2K projector can do. I’ve played extensively with Reality Creation on the Sony HW55ES, and other 1080p Sony’s and while it’s great there, watching the same 1080p content on this 4K projector, provides you with a whole “next level” of sharpness.
I directly compared this Sony with Reality Creation engaged with the new BenQ W7500 projector that just arrived. That BenQ may only be about $2800 but it is an extremely sharp 1080p projector that is a single chip DLP, which means inherently sharper than 3 panel 3LCD or LCoS projectors (like the less expensive Sonys.
The BenQ looked really sharp on Ender’s Game, on faces and all that CGI, but when I switched to the Sony it was a case of “whoa” that’s a real difference. Mostly I played with Reality Creation in a low setting range of 20 (out of 100) where one can spot the occasional artifact when paused and looking for it, but also tried 25 and 45-50. In the 45-50 range, you can see some minor artifacts even at speed, but these are minor enough that you rarely would spot them unless looking. You just might see the start of a pattern in the stubble of a close up of Cena in Hunger Games, or Harrison Ford’s Graff, in Ender’s game. Minor, very minor.
Bottom Line: Reality Creation is great for viewing 1080 content on a 4K projector like the Sony VW600. And it further enhances 4K content as well on this 4K projector.
The thing is, while the VPL-VW600ES simply looks sharper and more detailed than 2K projectors on 2K content, the real “Wow” comes when I played 4K content. We’re talking a whole different level of image clarity.
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