The Sony VPL-VW665ES wins this "4K" award this year, despite only being in the "middle" of Sony's 4K projector line-up. I should also note that if you are reading this after Nov. 2016, this model has just been replaced by the newer VPL-VW675ES, a virtually identical projector but for one noteworthy improvement. The newer Sony has something called Hybrid Log-Gamma, a new standard that may become the standard for streaming 4K content (or one of several).
Sony's VPL-VW665ES (or the newer) VPL-VW675ES - True 4K, 1500 lumens, great blacks, and Lens Shift - What's not to like
The Sony VPL-VW665ES is a true 4K projector with a $15K price tag. Pricy, but within range of many fanatics, and, in general, probably a not outlandish price point for anyone who can afford to lease a Lexus.
The Sony VPL-VW665ES / VW675ES wins our award for the best overall 4K capable projector
The VW665ES and now VW675ES 4K projectors, are a step of from the very nice, and very popular VPL-VW365ES, that, at $9999 is the lowest cost true 4K at the end of 2016. In many ways the two are similar, but the higher end VW665ES / VW675ES offers a few advantages, including, first of all, an auto iris which is used to improve dark scene performance and overall black levels, or limit brightness, or both. Also of note, is that the lower cost VW365ES, while it has motorized lens features, it lacks the simplicity of having Lens Memory, which makes it simple to quickly switch back and forth between aspect ratios, should you choose to go, like many of us do, with a "wide screen" for all those wide Cinemascope type movies (which means most movies).
For the serious home theater / movie aficionado, the improved black level performance is more than enough justification for the extra spend.
The Sony VPL-VW350ES: Why It Won
Sony’s VPL-VW665ES is true 4K. All the true 4K projectors out there at this time, are Sonys. Well, almost. Barco has launched several "monsters" that they do technically offer consumers, but they are three chip DLP models using the much larger DLP chips used in commercial cinema projectors.
All of the images above are from 4K content. In most cases, they are paired, the first showing an entire scene from a movie, the second, a close up of one small area of the same frame to demonstrate the detail and sharpness. Of course, viewing them on your laptop (or - oh no - your phone), will not reveal the full capabilities.
4K is what every home theater person should want, at least those wanting projectors. 4K is pretty much a waste watching a 50” LCDTV from 15 feet back, but 4K let’s you watch, and appreciate a 125 inch image 6-10 feet back. We're talking big time immersion, but without the softness of only having 1080p.
Let's talk 3D for a moment. Being the newest Sony, this projector has an RF 3D emitter built in, instead of IR. Excellent! 3D just isn't up to 2D in quality, but it is fun. (And there's no consumer standard for 4K 3D). For that reason, while we comment on it a good bit in the full reviews, I don't consider 3D quality as a significant factor in the deciding on the awards process.
The VW665ES and VW675ES are rated 1800 lumens, but pump out just about 1500 lumens with fabulous color. That gives you enough to handle that 120" screen even with some controlled ambient light. For 4K with HDR, lots of lumens really help, so this Sony is best around 100" diagonal.
Black Levels (for your $15K) aren't world class, JVC owns that honor, but this projector does a very acceptable job, none the less. Still, for this award, the $9999 JVC RS600U's edge in black levels were not enough to offset the advantage of true 4K, and in the case of the VW675ES having Hybrid Log-Gamma built in for streaming.
It's a great projector to enjoy, and folks it's real 4K. This, unlike all but 3 other projectors we've reviewed, should remain fully viable in a 4K world 3, 4, 5, and more years. The "faux-K" projectors out there, are usually a bit compromised in what they can do with true commercial 4K content than this Sony, typically in areas such as bit depth, and luminance.
And that makes the VW665ES and its replacement, the VPL-VW675ES serious performers, for folks that don't want to compromise when it comes to 4K.
If your budget isn't close to the price of this Sony, consider our "best value" alternative, the Epson HC5040UB. But, budget allowing, it will be hard not to enjoy watching great content on this Sony.