Projector Reviews

Best of the Best: Sony VW1100ES 4K Home Theater Projector

In it’s second year, the Sony VW1100ES remains the best 4K Home Theater Projector in the world!  No contest!  And it sells for less than a well endowed Toyota Camry, with a list price of “only” $27,999.  If you are comparing how it positions compared to automobiles you might say that this Sony is the Lamborghini Venano (about $4.5 Million), or the Bugatti Veyron (about $2.4M)!  Or maybe a Rolls Royce Phantom, a bargain at just under $500,000.

Thinking that way tends to make having the best 4K home theater projector seem like a real bargain!

The operative word is home.  You see, as of this writing, Sony seems to be the only folks that make a true 4K projector for home.  I believe Runco introduced a 4K projector that was basically a movie theater cinema projector with a sticker price of about $150K, but they killed it off.  Well, even at $150,000 that’s over five times the price of the Sony.  A

If you look hard enough you’ll find others.  European manufacturer Dream Vision has a pair in their line-up, but a close look tells you that they are basically repackaged Sonys.  Let’s face it, Sony’s the only game in town with 4K “chips” small enough for a home projector.  One of these days we’ll see others – from Epson, JVC, and from TI – Texas Instruments.  For those not familiar, TI makes all the DLP chips, that’s their invention.  That includes all those projectors in your local movie theater.

Sony-VPL-VW1100ES_front
The VPL-VW1100ES has it all: True 4K resolution, very good brightness, and superb black level performance.

 

Now Sony has two other current 4K projectors, the VPL-VW600ES, at $14,999.  It’s one fine 4K projector but while the VW1100ES has world class black levels, it’s little brother has very good black levels, more akin to a good $3000 1080p projector.  That’s still pretty good, but it’s not the same class.  Sony’s other, the VW350ES I refer to as the only 4K Home Entertainment projector.  It lacks the black level performance of even the VW600ES but makes it a great choice for the family room.

Back to the wonders of the Sony VPL-VW11ooES:

Check out the Projector Reviews TV:  Video Summary of the VPL-VW1000ES

The VW1100ES replaced the original 4K VW1000ES two plus years ago.  Truth is, they are essentially the same projector. We created the video about the VW1000ES when it was current.  Most of what you see there applies to the VW1100ES.

I’ve been writing for a long time, that 4K on a 50″ LCDTV is mostly a waste, unless you are sitting close enough to see the difference compared to 1080p.  How close let’s say 5 feet away.

When the VW1100ES was here (for months).  I moved my captain’s chair in my theater so my eyes were only about 7 feet from a 124″ screen.  Now at that distance, it’s a whole different world on a screen that large.  You see, we projector folks, and maybe the people who can afford 90″ and 100″ LCDTVs (which lost more than this Sony), are really the ones that can truly appreciate 4K content!

Sharpness. Native 4K is the right way to view all the new 4K content coming our way both on Blu-ray UHD (4K) and the 4K download service.  Oh, there are good pixel shifting projectors from the likes of JVC and Epson that can produce an image from 1080p content that looks about as sharp as this Sony, but when it comes to true 4K… They only come close, and they provide some hardness to the picture.

As I write this, we are only weeks from the first Blu-ray 4K movies hitting the market.  This is the best projector in the world to watch them on.  You can already download 4K movies though – close to 100, with more on the way.

 

 

I saw enough of the latest Spiderman in 4K for serious jaw dropping. Also from Stephen Low who brings us Ultimate Wave Tahiti, and Legend of Flight in 1080p 3D (both of which I use for checking 3D viewing quality), I received part of his Rocky Mountain train footage in 4K 3D.   Combining 4K and 3D together, can you say:  Next Level!!!  Serious wow!   Of the 1080p projectors with fancy dynamic detail enhancement, I believe the Sony’s Reality Creation on the HW50ES is the best, but it’s not really close to true 4K.   We projector people have never had enough resolution.  4K will be a magnitude step.

If I can ever afford the VPL-VW1000ES projector or its replacement, you better believe my captain’s chair I sit in is moving all the way up to 6 feet, maybe 5 feet, from my 124″ screen.  At 6 feet, it will be sharper and cleaner than my viewing 1080p at 10 feet!

I’m into immersion, especially in 3D. At 7 feet, 4K  on the VPL-VW1000ES, filling my 124″ screen should be like sitting in the 3rd or 4th or 5th row at a movie theater, but with one exception.  That close in a movie theater, and things are blurry, not so with the Sony.  It’s spreading out almost 4000 pixels across about 10 feet, not 40 or 60 feet as in a theater.  Awesome!    The Sony will produce a sharp and detailed image on the screen, something most theaters can’t accomplish much closer than half way to the back.

I won’t even bother talking about the hardware, connectors etc. except to say there’s great placement flexibility thanks to a 2.1:1 zoom and lots of lens shift.  If you want more details, check out the full review.  The Sony does impressive 3D at 1080p, but there’s no standard yet, at all for 3D at 4K in the home.

Here are some images taken when the VW1100ES was last in house.

Click Image to Enlarge

The images above consist of 4K from the beginning Church images to the Saturn’s Rings.  Those following are either traditional 1080p or 1080i content.  As you can see there are a lot of full frame images, and then close-ups to give you a feel for the sharpness.  

But don’t get too focused (no pun intended) on the sharpness, you should also be marveling about the color.  If the color doesn’t look stunning and accurate to you, it’s time for a new computer (or phone) display.

Color is about as good as it gets, the VPL-VW1100ES projector calibrates great, producing stunning skin tones, and thanks to it’s killer black level performance, I doubt any of the 1080p 3 chip DLP’s can touch it when tackling darker scenes, certainly none of the DLP projectors in the movie theaters can touch it.

No projector is perfect, but let’s just say you won’t be able to find a better home theater experience than watching a great movie in 4K on this Sony!

There are a lot of projectors I really like at different price points. Many of them have won awards in this report.  Still:  If I could borrow one projector for the next  year, this Sony would be it.  No question about it.