Projector Reviews Images

Sony VPL-VW350ES 4K Home Theater Projector Review Summary

Posted on February 18, 2015 by Art Feierman
VPL-VW350ES 4K PROJECTOR - SUMMARY:  The Big Picture, Overall Performance, The Competition, Pros and Cons

VPL-VW350ES: The Big Picture

This is it, at this time - early 2015 - the only true 4K projector under $10,000, with a $9999 official street price after the launch price promo ends 2/28/15 ($7999).

This may be the current entry level true 4K projector, but its picture is far, far away from entry level.  The projectors strengths include a beautiful natural looking image once calibrated, one with excellent dark shadow detail, and a healthy amount of brightness.  Black level performance, will still "ultra high contrast" is the performance weakness.  Sony positioned this projector well below the price of their VW600ES and one of the distinguishing differences is the lack of Sony's three way iris, that can manually limit maximum brightness, be a dynamic iris, or be a dynamic iris with maximum brightness restricted.

There are  few other things missing relative to the higher end Sonys.  Although this Sony offers motorized zoom, focus, and lens shift, there is not easy to use Lens Memory for those (like me) with wide screens (Cinemascope shape such as 2.35:1).

With Lens Memory you can save the different combinations of zoom shift and focus.  With the VW350ES, you'll just have to manually adjust with the remote, each time you go from widescreen movies to HDTV shaped ones (or HDTV).  You only need this if you go wide screen, but that's a good thing if movies are your thing!  Since we're talking about such things, placement flexibility is excellent.  A 2.06:1 zoom allows plenty of front to back placement range, and of course lens shift handles the rest of the flexibility.

This projector has just about 1250 calibrated lumens measured at mid-point on the zoom lens.  Or if you need every lumen, and you are placed at the minimum distance, you're got very close to 1500 lumens, but not quite.

That is plenty of lumens overall, for a nice 120 or even a 140 inch diagonal screen with say 1.1 to 1.3 gain.  You'll be a little week on brightness with 3D though, as would be the case with any projector with similar brightness.  Very bright for 2D, on the dim side for 3D on the same large screen.

The Sony has a very nice, well  balanced remote control. Menus are nicely laid out, and essentially the same as other Sonys we’ve reviewed.  A three year warranty is excellent although there’s no replacement or loaner program.

This Sony may not be as well endowed as Sony's more expensive projectors, but the VPL-VW350ES puts a great picture up on your screen, 1080 or 4K!

That’s pretty much the big picture.

The Competition

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!

Pros

  • True 4K projector
  • Glorious picture with great color, natural skin tones
  • Bright - over 1200 calibrated lumens (over 1300 at closest postion)
  • Excellent placement flexibility thanks to 2.06:1 zoom and lens shift
  • Superior dark shadow detail
  • Power lens features
  • Panel Alignment
  • Excellent remote control, very good menus
  • HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2 for compatibility with Blu-Ray UHD
  • 3 Year warranty
  • MotionFlow (CFI)
  • Contrast Enhancement
  • Input Lag Reduction
  • 3D (1080 - no standards for 3D 4K) and 2D to 3D conversion
  • 12 volt screen trigger
  • Support for anamorphic lens

 

Cons

  • No Dynamic iris (or manual one)
  • Black level performance could be better
  • Problem with certain speed slow panning (minor)
  • Lamp life could be longer
  • No lens memory
  • Relatively high price (yet lowest cost true 4K projector)
  • No replacement program
  • Limited amount of 4K content currently available

© 2023 Projector Reviews

crossmenu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram