Projector Reviews

Best in Class – $5000-$25,000 Performance Home Theater: Sony VPL-VZ1000ES


The Sony VPL-VZ1000ES was the Best Performance Award winner in the $8,000+ class in last year’s Best Home Theater Projectors Report, and it’s no surprise that this year, it tied for Best Performance Award with the Sony VPL-VW885ES. This $24,995 true 4K projector is a unique breed, with a laser light engine and ultra short throw design. Its 2,500 claimed lumens makes this projector just as at home in your living room as it would be in your home theater – just pair the VZ1000ES with a proper ALR screen and you’re good to go.

That the Sony VPL-VZ1000ES can be used in rooms with less-than-ideal lighting conditions is a major plus in favor of this projector. Media rooms, master bedrooms, living rooms and family rooms could all make use of the Sony, and with the ultra short throw design, the projector can sit on a low table or credenza within inches of the screen, tucked out of the way. If you got custom work done, the projector could even be hidden from view completely, set into a cabinet.

Sony VPL-VZ1000ES Overview

Sony designed the VZ1000ES to be set into a cabinet, in many ways – one such way is that the inputs are on the side of the projector, but exit out the back, on the side closest to the screen. This is a true 4K resolution projector: that’s 4096×2160 as opposed to the usual 3840×2160 that is 4K UHD. That gives the Sony a slightly wider aspect ratio, or higher resolution, if that is your perspective – the projector will be sharper than those 4K UHDs that are on the market, and if you’ve got $25K to spend, you sure won’t skimp on that true 4K resolution.

$25,000+ Best in Class Best Performance Home Theater Runner-Up Sony VPL-VZ1000ES

Speaking of 4K, it has all the trimmings – both types of HDR: HDR10 standard and HLG – Hybrid Log-Gamma, which is the newer HDR designed specifically for 4K streaming. This is a projector that also has no problem handling the P3/BT.2020 color space, rivaling the best of the other projectors tackling the same, for some of the richest, most intense colors you can get at home. That it has a laser light engine makes those colors even more vibrant and impressive.

Sony VPL-VZ1000ES
The Sony VPL-VZ1000ES has some truly impressive color!

The Sony’s black level performance is extremely good, but we expected no less. Black frames turn off the laser light engine, aiding in that regard. As for viewing, it has plenty of power for sports in moderate ambient light, even when used with a standard screen versus a UST ALR screen, which would be ideal. Art said the VZ1000ES is the best picture he’s ever seen in his theater, aside from Sony’s own VW5000ES, their $60K flagship. That’s high praise!

A thing to note is that, because the VZ1000ES is an ultra short throw, the ALR screen used with it will not be able to reject ambient light coming from the side, only light coming from above. This will be something to consider when using the projector in a living room or media room where there is ambient light present. In my reviews, I tend to tell people to pick up some blackout curtains if they find that their room is too bright for the projector – these curtains really do work wonders.

The Bottom Line on the Sony VPL-VZ1000ES

In his ridiculously bright living room, however, the Sony VPL-VZ1000 didn’t fare as well. To be fair, that room has these floor-to-ceiling glass windows facing the ocean, and I am convinced they have a gravitational pull to bend light inward to reflect on the light tile. That’s essentially a wall made of glass, and combined with the tile, the room is less than ideal for a projector.

The Sony VPL-VZ1000ES in a partially darkened room.

When viewing the VZ1000ES, he also had the projector on a white table and light was reflecting off that, and off the waterfall fixture behind, hitting the screen. It really didn’t stand a chance. In all but the brightest rooms, however, when paired with the right screen, it’ll pass the test. But the room truly does matter when considering a projector.

The Sony VPL-VZ1000ES has a beautiful picture with intensely rich color, excellent black levels, and is capable of looking great in ambient light. Though not for the faint of wallet, this projector is one of the best at any price, and will be just as enjoyable for sports as it is for movies, TV shows, and even those 4K video games, if that’s your fancy.

Sony VPL-VZ1000ES Review