Projector Reviews

Sony VPL-VW350ES 4K Home Theater Projector Review – Picture Quality

VPL-VW350ES 4K PROJECTOR – PICTURE QUALITY:  Out of the Box, Skin Tones, HDTV and Sports

Out of the Box Picture

The Sony went right out for calibration, before I started watching it. When I came back I ran through the various picture modes, and can report that most of them look pretty good. Bright TV is a little over-the-top, and a couple of the specialty ones aren’t what you would want to use for movie viewing but overall pretty good.

There isn’t a drastic amount of brightness difference between the various modes when measured, such as between best modes like Reference or Cinema Film 1, and modes like Bright TV. In fact, the brightest modes are mostly about more “pop”, accomplished by different sub-settings such as gamma.  Also the color temp of some are cooler than the ones more movie oriented.   Still most are pretty well-balanced – no screaming greens, etc.  I find I’ve been using Bright Cinema, rather than Bright TV for much of my TV viewing, including sports.  Of the images in this gallery, only the Spiderman one was from 4K content.

Bottom Line – not a really ugly choice in the batch.  You can choose from several modes when you are fighting some ambient light, or just want  more “wow” and “pop” to the image.  Still for great movie watching, you’ll want a calibrated best mode.

Skin Tones

Sony always seems to me to be the best (if only by small amounts) when it comes to handling skin tones as naturally as possible. Hard to say why, but I had an epiphany moment the other day when I put on the movie Lucy for the first time.

Post calibration skin tones were nothing short of glorious. You’ll find here the usual large assortment of images to show off skin tones some under tricky, nonstandard lighting, some from movies with intentional color casts. But the images from The Hunger Games, and this one amazing close up from Lucy should truly impress you. The Lucy close up when I first stumbled on it, filling all 124 inches of my screen, made me hit pause immediately.

The photo I took of the close up of Scarlett Johansson’s face does not do justice to the image on the screen.  How it looks on my MacBook Pro (or your display, I expect) pales by comparison to the view on my screen.  The color is off just slightly on my display, and it really looks inferior.    I later went back and viewed the same image on the Epson LS10000.  The Epson also looked excellent, but a touch more contrasty, but again the color on the screen was pretty excellent if not quite the match for the Sony, which was truly awesome.  Now I realize this comes down to calibrations and other details, and I realize this is the first time I’ve seen, and used that image of Lucy, but I think that this image of Lucy may be the best skin tone I’ve seen on my screen from any projector.  (How’s that for not understating things?)  Going forward Lucy images will be used in all home theater projector reviews.

Jennifer Lawrence looks great in The Hunger Games images, as do the others.  I think Mike must have truly nailed this calibration, in that the minor variances from ideal, all work in favor of a great picture – not usually the case.

The important point to remember – which is the same reason there are four images of Bond – Daniel Craig – under different lighting – sunlight, fluorescent, night, and filtered sunlight – is that the skin tones all look different, but an accurate projector should still make them look right.

Bottom line in Skin Tones – Awesome!  No more needs to be said!

HDTV and Sports

Any projector that can do great skin tones should be able to handle most things well.  On HDTV and sports in particular the VW350ES had no issues.  Football fields looked natural, as did faces and uniforms.  The two flag image scenes looked great.  At first I was concerned about the red in the flag – in the shot of the whole field.  The reds didn’t seem pure enough.  But when they cut to the close-up camera of the flag material, voila’ the red looked right – like I would expect.  On an assortment of music videos and festivals from the Paladia channel, things looked pretty great, dealing with all the different stage lighting in a fashion that you believe it captured the lighting properly, even on faces.

The usual other content, such as CNBC looked good enough – I’m never happy with some TV color – Jim Cramer’s skin tones never look right on Mad Money, but that’s true on all of the reviews if you look back.  Fallon can look good on The Tonight Show, but never great.  (The Tonight show had outstanding color “back in the day” when we watched on pre HDTV Sony Trinitron TVs.)

 

The Sony’s CFI on low worked well, I should note, on sports.  I stuck to the Low setting.  That worked out great for the Superbowl.  We were running projectors in two rooms for the big game.  Most folks stayed downstairs for the bright room and partying, but for the half time show the upstairs theater was packed, with this Sony doing a great job on the festivities (and the remainder of the game).  (The Epson LS10000 was used only for the first half of the game – I switched for the halftime show.)  Overall, my friends really didn’t notice any difference between the projectors used in the first half vs. the second.

Bottom line on HDTV and Sports:  Great picture, Reality Creation running set to 40, running Bright Cinema mode (for sports), for the Victoria Secret and other non-sports HDTV, the projector was run in best – calibrated mode, no CFI, Reality creation on 20.  Not a complaint about color handling.  I like a lower gamma for sports and some TV than movie gamma, but choose what works for you.  I assume most don’t watch HDTV in a really dark room, so adjust accordingly.  If I had one wish, it would be for an extra few hundred lumens under the hood.