Projector Reviews

Best of the Best: Sony VW5000ES 4K Home Theater Projector

This is Sony’s flagship.  Sadly, I have yet to get a chance to review this $60,000, 5000 lumen true 4K projector!  But, because it is the best consumer 4K projector I can think of, it deserves the mention.

Update:  10/31/16:  The paragraph above is no longer true.  A week ago, after a visit to Sony corporate down in the San Diego area, Eric – my new calibrator, and I returned to my house with this 90 pound behemoth of a projector, hauled it up to my 2nd floor theater (not easy, btw), and I’ve been viewing it ever since, logging so far, over 30 hours, including the usual football, and plenty of 4K UHD movies as well as 1080p ones.  And of course, the usual video concerts I love so much.  Short version:  Pretty amazing!  I’m going to be writing up a short “subjective” review of the experience, which should post by mid November.  This review will not be the usual.  I won’t bother with calibration data, as anyone owning one of these will have it properly calibrated.  Rather, I’m planning to focus on how this experience differs from “lesser” projectors, including all of Sony’s other 4K projectors which I’ve reviewed.  (All but the updated VW675ES, and I did review it’s predecessor, which is almost identical except for the new one supporting 4K streaming.)  OK, back to my original commentary. -art

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.  As of this writing, Sony remains the only folks shipping true 4K projectors for home.  I just saw JVC’s newly announced, first true 4K, the RS4500, with the price of $35,000.  It looked great too, but for now, until we review them both, the VW5000ES is shipping, and it’s also a good bit brighter, Best of the Best, it is!

If you look hard enough you’ll find others.  European manufacturer Dream Vision has a pair in their line-up, but a close look at their projectors, and you will recognize them as repackaged Sonys.

Sony’s flagship home theater (and more) projector – the VPL-VW5000ES provides a rather amazing picture for only $60,000


Sony has three other current 4K projectors, VW1200ES (we haven’t reviewed, but reviewed its similar predecessor, the VW1100ES.)  Then there’s the VPL-VW665ES, at $14,999.  It’s one fine 4K projector. However,  black levels aren’t as good as the 1200ES.  The 665ES’s blacks are more in line with a that of a great $3000 1080p projector.  Sony’s other, the VW365ES, I refer to as the only 4K Home Entertainment projector.  It lacks the black level performance of even the VW665ES but makes it a great choice for the family room, or any room with more than a minimal amount of ambient light.  For that matter, though, many folks just wanted a true 4K projector but who aren’t hard core enthusiasts, will find even the VW365ES (which I’m in the process of completing the review), to easily exceed their expectations.

Barco, was also showing 4K projectors.  Theirs were also at price levels reserved for higher end Lexus and Mercedes vehicles.

Back to the story of the Sony VPL-VW5000ES:  Here’s a projector, first of all, bright enough to at least approach the 1000 NITS brightness that they say is needed for HDR content on 4K.  We’re used to most projectors producing 1000 – 2000 lumens, so in this regard, the VW5000ES should be able to do things with today’s content on Blu-ray UHD discs that no other home projector can.

I got another close look at this Sony, this week at CEDIA.  Damn!

I love that Sony rates the 5000ES as good on screens up to 1000″ diagonal.  Let’s just say, in a proper theater, HDR not withstanding, this projector can easily tackle 250 inches.

The light source is laser.  Sony rates the VPL-VW5000ES laser engine at 20,000 hours.  That should keep us happy for a long time.  Contrast?  Infinity per Sony, that’s because it can do pure black frames by turning off the laser engine completely when doing those frames.  That doesn’t tell us much, though about how deep the blacks are when there is some very, very, dark content, not pure black.

It is a monster.  This is one big projector, keep that in mind.  I’ve got an eight foot ceiling in my home theater.  It’s almost too tall to ceiling mount without people over six feet banging their head on it.  But then, if you can afford a projector this expensive, you’ll figure out a solution, perhaps a motorized lift in the ceiling that drops down when the projector is in use.

Having worked with all the other Sony 4K projectors, and realizing this one is about 2.5 times as bright as any of them, and should be at least as good as any of them at anything,

Product Image from Sony Brochure


How about the value proposition?  If you are not one of the top 1%, or maybe a top 3%,  or a top 5% who is a home theater addict, this Sony is likely no more than wishful thinking.  But…If you can afford to lease cars in the $75K+ range, then this Sony isn’t out of reach.  Figure it’s got an reasonable life expectancy of 5-8 years.  $10,000 a year for six years?  That $80K car lease along with cost of fuel, maintenance, etc., is going to cost you more per year.  So, maybe, skip that nice SL Mercedes, and go with a mid-range Lexus, AND a VW5000ES!  Why not?

There’s another application though besides parking this Sony in a dedicated home theater.  The VW5000ES is also the ultimate “bright room” projector.  For example, its brightness its similar to the Epson G6550U that I have in my very bright living room.  4K, bright.  What’s not to like.

One last thought – if you have the really big house, consider using this Sony in a rear screen environment, which makes a huge difference in terms of ambient light.  Thanks to a choice of lenses, you can go very short throw allowing a great rear screen setup.

I’m just hoping a loyal reader of, with more money than they know what to do with, will gift me one for my birthday.  Failing that, I would probably look good in a Lamborghini!