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Review: Sony VPL-VW1100ES 4K Projector - Picture Quality 2

Posted on November 22, 2014 by Art Feierman
VPL-VW1100ES 4K PROJECTOR PICTURE QUALITY Page 2:  HDTV and Sports, 4K Download Service quality

HDTV and Sports Viewing @2K: 1080 content

OK, I'm a huge football fan.  And I watch a lot of concerts online, events like the Oscars, plus of course, some regular programming including The Blacklist, Elementary, HGTV, and Discovery HD, Modern Family, etc. Nothing that I've had here for review - ever - can match the picture quality of the VW1100ES for my TV viewing.

Oh, it's not perfect - but that's mostly for two reasons: The VPL-VW1100ES, although very bright (1500+ lumens calibrated), could be even brighter, at least for sports.  That's because I like friends over watching, so we don't like watching in a fully darkened, or mostly darkened room.  With a fair amount of ambient light, you get a far more social environment, more suitable for high fiving, or fist bumping after great plays, so basically I guess a projector (for sports) can never be too bright.

Another downside, is, that, of course, almost all HDTV today is broadcast at 1080i resolution - not even 1080p, let alone 4K.  Reality Creation definitely adds a lot of perceived sharpness/detail, but, of course it's no match for true 4K content.  You can easily see the difference by comparing the NFL football images above (1080i) with the FIFA football images below (4k).

Now because my projector is in a dedicated theater with dark surfaces (as likely describes most rooms that a VW1100ES projector is likely to find itself in), even the calibrated Reference is pretty bright, but I typically will select Bright Cinema, which is geared for more punch to the image (different gamma, etc.)  Bright Cinema does seem to cut through ambient light better before colors start washing out.

Either mode has more than great enough color accuracy for sports, we're not exactly demanding perfect skin tones, but we sure want the field to look right.

Switching to other content:  My late night concert viewing - consists of everything from concerts held at Isle of Wright, Coachella, Glastonbury, as well as live music shows such as Jools Holland and Austin City Limits, I favor a mostly  or fully darkened room, and therefore prefer the still plenty bright calibrated Reference mode. As to general TV viewing - when often my wife joins me in the theater for The Blacklist, etc., since I view 16:9 at a 100" size, the calibrated Reference mode is what we normally use for general HDTV, and especially for high quality content type shows such as Discovery HD, is more than bright enough.

For sports viewing I also recommend using MotionFlow, setting its creative frame interpolation to the Low setting.  This has a visible impact on the smoothness, without being too "soap opera".

I really almost never use CFI on projectors for general HDTV viewing, and never on movies, but that is, to some degree - at least for HDTV, a matter of personal taste.  In terms of movie viewing, one could argue that CFI (MotionFlow) "alters the director's intent"  Certainly engaging CFI, noticeably affects the smoothness of the camera work on the Bourne movies, which are well known for their aggressively jerky camera action to make scenes seem higher energy.  If the director intended it to be very jerky, who are we to say - "forget that - let's make it smoother"?  Is that a greater or lesser sin, let's say, than colorizing Casablanca, or the significant editing of 2.35:1 movies to fit 16:9 displays.

Cinema-photographers must really hate all that resizing.

BTW that resizing is one more reason why I prefer my movies on Blu-ray since few channels of HDTV show the  original Cinemascope widescreen movie versions.

Bottom line on watching 1080i content on HDTV:  Awesome +  This Sony will seem to be at the very least, sharper than any 1080p projector out there.  The more advanced ones, such as the pixel shifting, and 4K upscaling projectors from Epson and JVC, may get close in terms of perceived sharpness, but under close inspection, they tend to "harden" the look of the picture to get that sharpness, which the Sony offers up effortlessly, and natively.

No 4K HDTV Yet - 4K Download Service

HDTV content has never looked as good as Blu-ray content.  One could argue that 1080i from satellite or cable is inherently slightly lower resolution that the 1080p on Blu-ray, but that's not the significant difference.  The difference is in the amount of compression. HDTV needs a lot of compression to get you a high res image in real time, over satellite, broadcast, or cable.   Blu-ray compresses as well, but not near as much.

You can see the difference just by looking and not that closely.  It's easy to spot the extra compression in very dark larger areas.  You can see it in the skin in close ups of faces.

I've done side by sides in the past - using a pair of identical projectors, one showing a movie recorded off of satellite, the other using the same frame off of a Blu-ray disc.  It's certainly not night and day, but if you are an enthusiast, you'll appreciate the superiority.

I expect that to hold true when we finally get some 4K HDTV in the future, compared to the forthcoming Blu-ray UHD.

Best I can address right now is the quality of Sony's 4K download service. I can say from the viewing I've done, that it seems to be a lot less compressed than HDTV is.  Perhaps that's why it can take hours to download a movie.

As such, the 4K download content looks really good, that is, the compression artifacts, etc. are mild compared to current HDTV.   If 4K HDTV can somehow look as good as the download service, though, it will definitely close the quality gap a good bit, but Blu-ray should still remain superior, if you want the very best picture quality.

It's sort of like music.  Most folks download music these days, CD sales are drying up, but the sound quality is far superior on CD (and even better on vinyl).  My point is that newer - doesn't guarantee better!  That said, I'd definitely favor this quality 4K download than the same content provided at 1080p off of standard Blu-ray.

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