This sponsored article, brought to you by Sony, who has just announced the most budget-friendly SXRD projector in their line-up, the new VW325ES 4K home theater projector. While at $5500 the VW325ES is the least expensive native 4K projector available today, it still more costly than many competitor 4K models.
You could easily buy a more feature-loaded 4K DLP laser projector and pay thousands less. If you cruise around our site, you will find a number of glowing reviews for cheaper, high-performing DLP models. You may be wondering why a lamp-based Sony 4K SXRD projector like the VW325ES commands such a premium price.
Two words – picture quality.
During design and manufacturing, Sony places a priority on components that deliver the most bang for the buck to realize both stellar picture quality and ease of installation. In fact, the installation-friendly features also help ensure the highest level of picture quality.
So, let’s talk about how Sony prioritizes resources. In any projector, the components with the biggest impact on picture quality are the imager, the lens, the light source, and the “brain.” In this article, we are going to explore each of these components within the VW325ES and do a deep dive into the choices Sony made to achieve the exceptional picture quality that makes a Sony 4K home theater projector like the VW325ES so highly desired.
Sony was the first company to introduce a native 4K projector and they still offer the widest product selection. All Sony 4K projectors including the new VW325ES use a three-chip native 4K SXRD imaging system which is derived from the same technology used in Sony 4K cinema projectors found in some of the world’s best movie theaters. The SXRD acronym stands for Silicon X-tal Reflective Display, where X-tal is a common abbreviation for crystal.
These three SXRD panels deliver true 4K resolution (4096 x 2160) and represent Sony's version of LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon). Sony and JVC, the two dominant home theater brands between $5000 and $40,000, both rely on LCoS panels because these panels can deliver more native contrast than standard LCD panels or DLP chips used in consumer displays.
There are three SXRD panels, one for each of the primary colors (red, green, and blue). Each panel has a full 8.8 million pixels (4096 x 2160) which is the same resolution as your favorite 4K movie theater projector.
SXRD technology increases contrast and color depth and also dramatically reduces the “screen door effect” caused by gaps or inactive areas between pixels. Because SXRD technology places all of the panel’s transistors behind the reflective surface, the gaps between pixels are barely visible when projected on the screen.
The inter-pixel space (the distance between the silicon backplane and glass substrate), measures no more than two microns (2/1000th of a millimeter) at any point across the SXRD panel. Consider 2 microns in relation to the overall surface area of the panel (approximately 35mm x 18.5mm). This unique Sony achievement is like aligning two soccer fields no more than a marble’s width apart at any point!
Because LCoS imagers have a higher pixel density than their DLP or LCD counterparts, a smaller LCoS chip can produce more resolution. This is why most native 4K Home Theater projectors utilize LCoS chips. LCoS panels like Sony’s SXRD or JVC’s DiLA have a higher cost compared to other imaging solutions such as DLP, they are not as commonly used. LCoS panels are typically found on premium models like Sony and JVC, which tend to cost more. It is improbable that any time in the near future, you will be able to find a 4K LCoS based laser home theater projector for under $5,000.
But if you are a true videophile and committed to the highest level of picture quality, an LCoS system like a Sony SXRD is the ultimate solution. With the VW325ES, you’re going to get the highest quality black levels and native 4K resolution of an LCoS projector but you have to be willing to give up some of the “extras” like smart features (or get them another way like through an Apple TV or Roku device).