Sony was the first company to introduce a native 4K home theater projector and they still have one of the most comprehensive model assortments. This year, Sony is excited to announce three new 4K SXRD laser projectors, these models are designed to replace several projectors in their previous home theater lineup. This results in a more condensed and higher-performance product assortment.
In the month's article, sponsored by Sony, we will discuss these new projectors' innovative designs which deliver class-leading picture quality from a new lighter, and more compact package. The addition of the VPL-VW5000ES ($6,000 SRP), VPL-VW6000ES ($12,000 SRP), and VPL-VW7000ES ($28,000 SRP) means that every Sony 4K Home Theater projector is equipped with a version with the Z-Phosphor laser light source.
All the new models, including the entry-level XW5000ES, are equipped with the X1 Ultimate video processors which have been optimized for projector applications. The X1 Ultimate is Sony’s most powerful video processor, and it was first introduced in Sony's flagship 4K SXRD projector, the VPL-GTZ380.
This processor adds features like Object-Based HDR Remaster, Dynamic HDR Enhancer, and Dual Database Processing to improve the picture quality of HD, 4K, and HDR content. The XW-Series projectors support both the HDR10 standard as well as HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma).
Check out our interview with Rob Brennan, Sony's Product Technology & Training Manager, from the Spring 2022 Projection Summit where we discuss the new XW Series lineup in detail.
While Sony has slimmed down their projector lineup slightly, they still offer a total of five 4K HDR home theater projectors, starting with the XW5000ES ($6,000 SRP) moving up to the flagship GTZ380 which is $80,000 (minus the ARC-F Lens). The chart below is a summary of the Sony 4K SXRD Home Theater projector lineup as of May 2022.
The Sony VPL-XW5000ES (2,000 lumen), which replaces the VPL-VW325ES (1500 lumen), is still the least expensive native 4K projector on the market. Like all the newly introduced models the XW5000ES utilizes a Z-Phosphor laser light source and the X1 Ultimate video processor.
Stepping up to the VPL-XW6000ES ($12,000 SRP) adds motorized ACF (Advanced Crisp Focused) lens with picture position memories along with additional 500 ANSI lumens of brightness and support for 3D. The XW6000ES retails for about a thousand dollars more than VPL-VW715ES but the new model is 800 lumens brighter and includes a laser light source and the more powerful X1 Ultimate video processor.
The VPL-XW7000ES ($28,000 SRP) replaces both the VPL-VW915ES ($20,000 SRP) and the VPL-VW1025ES ($40,000 SRP). When compared to the VW1025ES, the new XW7000ES offers comparable optics, 1000 lumens more brightness, and a better video processor for nearly $14,000 less.
The first thing you will notice about the new XW-Series is its new chassis design. Sony has been utilizing the same basic design for over a decade. The design language of the previous VW-Series was incorporated in the VW-VPL1000ES which was Sony’s first 4K Home Theater projector launched in 2011.
The new models not only look different but are more compact. Their smaller size makes it easier to fit the new XW-Series projector into more places still delivering the improved picture quality and higher light output.
When it comes to cosmetic changes, form follows function. A lot of reasons why the new units look different on the outside have to do with the new features and upgrades done on the inside. As we have already mentioned, there have been notable upgrades to the SXRD panels, optical blocks, light sources, lenses, and last but not least their video processor.
When you lift one of these new laser-equipped XW-Series models out of the box, you will also notice that they are much lighter than the previous Sony 4K SXRD laser models. Any installer who has ever had to lift something like VW1025ES or VW915ES knows that they're beefy units. However, while the XV7000ES is lighter, it still has the build quality you would expect from a Sony.
While the XW Series is compact, they are still very quiet and have a rated audible noise output between 24 to 26 dB, which is significantly quieter than most projectors I have reviewed. The unit’s fan intakes are on the front flanking the lens, and the unit's exhaust vents are located along the rear. Whether in a dedicated home theater, or a media room, it is very unlikely you will notice the nicely low-pitched background fan noise.