Since this Sony is a true 4K projector, it would be hard to consider any projector that can’t project future 4K content as a serious competitor - unless, of course you aren’t looking to keep this projector more than 2 or three years tops. First of all, it will be late 2015 before we even see Blu-ray UHD. 4K HDTV? Coming, but when? There’s the 4K Download service, currently being filled with 4K content from Sony Pictures and their affiliates.
Considering Sony Pictures was built on the old major studio Columbia Pictures and Tri-Star, they have a lot of movies, plus more recent franchises such as Men In Black and Spiderman. As of Feb 2015, the 4K download service - Sony sells a $699 4K media player - has upward of 50 feature films available and many shorts. That could easily grow into the hundreds of films, plus TV series.
For those not in a hurry, two to three years out there should be some noticeably more affordable 4K projectors, so this Sony is for folks who don’t mind paying extra to be early adopters. You know, just like the folks who paid a few thousand for a 42” TV, while 50” ones are now $599. In other words, 4K content is coming to take full advantage, but you’ll need at least a couple of years before most of your favorite movies are available in 4K regardless of the medium. Hey, if you can afford the expense, a 4K projector is the way to go, even if it's early on.
With that in mind, the most direct competition is obviously the two more expensive Sony projectors at $15K and $28K. But there are a couple of others to consider. Both JVC and Epson have projectors that use pixel shifting to produce some impressive perceived sharpness from 1080p panels. The Epson LS10000 at $8K is one, and it, like the Sony has HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 compatible HDMI that Blu-ray UHD calls for. Thus it’s ready for 4K content.
JVC is the other player with three projectors from $5000 to $12,000 that also have 4K input capability and pixel shifting, but with the older HDMI standards. I suspect that those may handle Blu-ray UHD when used in conjunction with perhaps an external image processor, but until we see one, that remains a question mark. Let’s just say the Epson is the safer bet of those two brands as they have committed to supporting new 4K standards. I’m trying right now to source a JVC for a direct comparison on 1080p content.
I will be publishing a separate article comparing the Epson LS10000 directly to the Sony since both are in house. The Epson can seem essentially as sharp on 4K movie content, but its image, by comparison is a bit hard and a bit grainy. For that comparison we’ll look at both 1080p and 4K content so stay tuned. BTW the Epson is pretty feature laden, with more goodies than the Sony, but a number of those don’t work in 4K such as CFI or their dynamic detail enhancement controls.
To me the Epson would be the primary competition. The Epson and the JVCs both have superior black level performance to the Sony, in fact JVC are the champs when it comes to blacks. If I can bring in a JVC while this Sony is still here (and I'm trying), I'll do a direct comparison between the Sony and the JVC as well.
Still, when all is considered, the VPL-VW350ES is the only under $10,000 true 4K projector!