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Review: Sony VPL-VW1100ES 4K Projector - Performance

Posted on November 22, 2014 by Art Feierman
VPL-VW1100ES 4K PROJECTOR PERFORMANCE Page 1:  Measured Brightness / Color Temp - pre calibration, Calibrated Reference mode brightness, Affect of Zoom lens and Eco mode, Sharpness, Audible Noise, Image Noise

VW1100ES Brightness

VPL-VW1100ES MODES:  BRIGHTNESS AND COLOR TEMP - at Mid-point on zoom lens
Reference 1537, 1711 using DCI 6325, 6221
TV 946 6630
Cinema Film 1 999 6210
Cinema Film 2 454 5851
Game 1545 6351
Photo 1348 5352
Bright Cinema 1446 6337
Bright TV 1393 10026
Cinema Digital 750 6128

Maximum Brightness measured was Reference mode, zoom at wide angle, color space set to DCI.  That worked out to 1925 lumens, just slightly less than the 2000 lumens claimed.  Reference (along with Game mode) is the brightest overall.  It also starts out with great color balance, so was Mike's basis for calibrating the projector.  The various modes use different color spaces, Eco (low) lamp mode or high), and other settings changes to offer a range of brightness at mid-zoom from 454 lumens up to Reference's 1537.

The short version though is that Reference is the brightest, and even calibrating it barely affects that claim.  Use other modes where applicable.  For example, I suspect that Cinema Film 2 with it's warmer color temp is set up to do a good job on black and white films which in the old days used a color temp in the 5500K range.

1500+ lumens qualifies the Sony projector as a "light canon."  More to the point, with a typical 1.1 to 1.3 gain screen, you can tackle screen sizes up to, or even beyond 150" diagonal!  If you want  3D that's not on the dim side, you'll probably want to go no larger than 130" diagonal, unless you have a higher gain screen.  Of course you could use lens memory to carve out a screen image size that you like for 3D brightness, that's smaller than your full screen.

Of note I like Bright Cinema as well.  It doesn't measure as bright, but the default selection of its gamma, color space, etc, provide what appears to be a more saturated image that can cut through more ambient light without being washed out.  I often use it for sports viewing when I have a fair amount of ambient light allowed in.  If I'm watching a game at night, though, no need to switch out of Reference.

Post Calibration Reference Mode

1514 Lumens!  Calibrated!!

Post calibration, Reference mode, which required little change because it starts out so good, still manages to deliver 1514 measured lumens, which is a drop in brightness of less than 2%.  Can you say? - "I can't see any difference in brightness."

DCI color will add a couple hundred more lumens, but since we don't have any available DCI content at this time, that's a "future thing."  Using DCI calls for a larger color space, so that Blu-ray and HDTV content won't be as color accurate with DCI selected as with the proper color space for REC709.

Affect of Zoom Lens, and Eco mode, on Brightness

VPL-VW1100ES Lens Setting vs Brightness (lumens)
Wide Angle (closest placement to the screen) 1729 lumens
Mid-point 1537 lumens
Telephoto 1143 lumens


As is typical, wide angle - the closest you can place your projector to whatever sized screen you have, is the brightest.  Because the lens is a 2.1:1 - lots of zoom range, the brightness drops off more quickly than with projectors with more modest zoom ratios.  Measuring at the mid-point of the zoom lens results in a very modest drop of only 11% to 1537 lumens, while going to full wide angle (typically for back of the room placement, results in a drop compared to wide angle, of about 34%.

VPL-VW1100ES Full Power vs. Eco (Reference Mode)
Mode Lumens
Full Power 1537
Eco Mode 1068


Eco mode - Sony calls it Low lamp, results in a drop in brightness that's almost exactly 30%.  It also results in the fan running even quieter.

VPL-VW1100ES Sharpness

1080p and 1080i content looks really sharp, and even more so with the application of modest to moderate Reality Creation dynamic detail enhancement.

But the beauty of this projector really lies with what it can do with true 4K resolution, be it movies, other content, or even your photos (if they are high enough resolution.

The image player here has a series of twofers.  A photo of the screen showing a 4K image, then a close-up of part of that image, to better see how sharp/how much detail there really is.  I've repeated some of these image pairs from elsewhere in this review.


Stunningly sharp comes to mind.  The images in this player, from the beginning, and ending with the 2nd (the closeup) of Saturn, are from true 4K content.  That's followed by a 3rd Saturn image, this one off of HDTV (1080i).  What a difference in sharpness.

Then comes a 1080i pair - closeup of a San Diego chargers helmut, and in 1080p a pair the scrabble coffee mug image from Skyfall.  Finally, a scrabble closeup from the JVC RS4910 with eshift3 operating, and the Epson LS10000 with it's 4K Super-Resolution engaged.  Note that the 4 (out of 5) setting for Super-Resolution.  That gives the Epson a very sharp look, but also adds a grainy feel to the image.  A setting of 2, would still look sharper than the JVC, without near as much graininess.

These pixel shifting 1080p projectors aren't that far behind this Sony, when handling 1080 content, but the Sony pulls away from them when comparing true 4K content.  And true 4K content from Blu-ray UHD, when available should look slightly sharper still on this Sony, since Blu-ray UHD will have less compression than Sony's 4K download service.

Audible noise and Image noise

The Sony VPL-VW1100ES is a relatively quiet projector, even with the lamp and fan on full power mode.  Sony does not publish a decibel rating for the projector in their manual or their brochure, so it's guess time, since we don't measure fan noise.

I would guesstimate the full power noise level at under 30db.  In eco mode, it should be below 25db, which means very quiet.  No one should have an issue with low (eco) mode, and very, very, few will notice fan noise even at full power, during normal viewing.  it is significantly quieter at full power than any projector to come though here in quite some time.

Image noise!  I have no issues to report - the Sony tackled my Silicon Optix test disc without breaking a sweat.  I have no test disc, though, for 4K, and even if I did, I don't have a Blu-ray UHD player to play it on since they don't exist yet.  Oh, Sony could have put some test software on the 4K media player, but they didn't.   Panning, I should note, on 1080p seems to be smoother on 24fps content, than some of the other Sonys. I've found that to be my only previous complaint about Sony 1080p projectors when it comes to image noise.

Since we've mentioned low power and eco here, I thought I should mention that you won't want to own this projector if your goal is a projector with minimum power draw.  At full power the Sony draws between 450 and 500 watts.  Most home theater projectors (and most aren't near as bright calibrated) draw about 100 to 150 watts less.

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