It seems like the hottest buzzword in projectors these days is “laser” but the VW325ES is a lamp-based 1500-lumen projector. While there are many benefits to using a laser light source in a projector including long life and maintenance-free operation, the quality of light generated is not inherently superior to the performance of a bulb. Lamps may be less expensive than LED or laser light sources, but they are still an excellent light source.
Premium LCoS projectors like Sony SXRD and JVC DiLA units still use bulbs in models that retail for less than $20,000. To meet these manufacturer’s high standards for the high quality of light needed for accurate color reproduction requires additional premium construction.
You can see that in the huge jump in cost from a bulb to a laser on a premium LCoS projector. Most laser projectors utilize the least expensive solution, which is a single blue laser diode array that provides the blue light and excites a yellow phosphor color wheel. Filters are then used to break up the yellow into red and green elements. The goal is to make WHITE LIGHT – an equal amount of red, green, and blue. Producing the same quality light as a bulb requires high-power RGB LED or a well design single/multi-channel laser light source, which commands a premium.
If you’re really after color accuracy, a bulb is still the least expensive option with the best results and the manufacturer can reallocate the cost of the laser to other components…like the imager, the lens, and the brain!
It comes down to cost and light quality. As we mentioned, lamp-based systems are less expensive but have the shortest life. As the price of better LED and laser light sources comes down, lamps will eventually be phased out. It’s just a matter of time.
We could write an entire article on just the benefits of Sony processing and in fact, we did, check it out here.
4K upscaling, visual contrast, color reproduction, and motion performance all depend on the “brain” of a projector – the processor. The X1 processor was originally designed for Sony’s lineup of OLED and LCD flat-panel TVs – it made its debut in Sony’s flagship Z9D flat panel TV in 2016. The version found Sony’s newest 4K Home Theater projectors including the VW325ES has been optimized for projectors with the goal of enhancing the picture quality of projected images. It combines innovative technologies for high-precision frame analysis, enabling unique features like Dynamic HDR Enhancer and Reality Creation.
Thanks to the power of that X1 processor, the VW325ES feature Sony’s exclusive Reality Creation technology that analyzes HD, 4K, and HDR content frame by frame to enhance detail, colors, and detail. Based on a decade’s experience upscaling movies to 4K in movie theaters across the globe, Reality Creation is Sony’s Super Resolution processing technology that enhances HD content. Every pixel is analyzed and matched to a picture patterning database compiled from over 10 years of expertise to enhance colors, contrast, and textures. The X1 processor ensures that Full HD is upscaled close to 4K quality.
HDR content is the current hot topic in home theater entertainment. HDR imagery comes closest to the reality our eyes see every day, with higher contrast, increased color volume, deeper blacks, and exceptional dynamic range. However, it is exceptionally challenging to reproduce HDR content on a projector. HDR content contains brightness information that far exceeds the capabilities of a standard home theater projector, so a huge leap in video processing horsepower was required.
Of all the benefits of the X1 processor, the most notable is the Dynamic HDR Enhancer feature which dramatically improves the look of HDR content. Thanks to the Dynamic HDR Enhancer, the VW325ES can analyze HDR content scene by scene for precise dynamic tone mapping. This enhanced HDR feature analyzes each scene to deliver the best contrast performance when viewing HDR content, making the bright scenes brighter and the dark scenes darker.
The VPL-VW325ES is compatible with both HDR10 and HLG content. Since most HDR10+ and Dolby Vision content is either backward compatible with or available in HDR10, you will be able to watch most of the HDR content available on 4K Blu-ray Disc and streaming services. HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) was developed for live broadcast, so you are all set to enjoy sports and award shows when the networks start broadcasting.
In this article, we discussed various “ingredients” of the VW325ES projector – the imager, the lens, and the light source. What separates a good chef from a great chef is the skill required to transform ingredients into a high-quality dish. You can give two chefs the same ingredients and end up with two different results – one chef might serve you a delicious meatloaf while the other chef disappoints you with soggy meatballs. For the Sony VW325ES, the quality components are the ingredients and the X1 processor is the excellent recipe that extracts their maximum performance for an optimal viewing experience.
Your momma always said – you get what you pay for. The $5500 VW325ES may be more expensive than competitor 4K models but its image-first feature set makes it a great option for movie enthusiasts who crave outstanding picture quality.
When designing and building a projector, there are a lot of ways a manufacturer can allocate resources. Every manufacturer makes budgetary decisions based on what they think will give their customers the best experience and will make their projectors more attractive to buy. Sony invests dollars primarily in picture quality – eschewing other potential extras like audio or smart features.
So, for example, on Sony’s $5500 VW325ES the money went into the lens, the imager, the light source, and the brain because those components deliver the best picture quality. If you put the VW325ES side by side with a less expensive competitor model, you are going to see the difference.
We know that Sony home theater projectors are going to give you a great picture. It’s like buying a base model Porsche 911 versus a fully loaded Turbo model. The base car will give you most of Porsche’s famous driving experience, the top-of-the-line model is just faster and adds additional luxury and refinement.
If you want a more loaded model with a high-quality laser light source, a dynamic iris, lens memories, and Sony's finest lens assembly, meet the VW1025ES ($40,000). To find out more about why you would want to buy the VW325ES, stay tuned for an upcoming review.