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Sony VPL-VW350ES Home Theater Projector - Special Features

Posted on February 18, 2015 by Art Feierman

True 4K Projector

Life is short.  You want make your move now, and get a true 4K projector to last you years.  If you won’t wait another full year (from the time of this review’s publication), then this Sony projector is the least expensive game in town.  As expected from reviewing the other two Sony 4K projectors, the VW350ES is natively sharp with 4K content.  No doubt a single chip 4K DLP would appear sharper, but since those don’t exist…

For those of us who like sitting close, the available 4K content today (from the 4K download service) is something to behold.  It just smokes 1080p content.  I serves up the sharpness I’ve always found mere 1080p projectors to lack.  When you watch a 50” LCD TV from 15-20 feet back, the picture is small – the immersion is minimal, but everything is razor shaarp.  At a dozen feet back from my 124” screen, with this true 4K projector, things appear that sharp, but the screen is occupying about 6 times as much of your vision!

And that said, Blu-ray UHD’s picture quality although not sharper, will be a magnitude cleaner, thanks to far, far less compression.  (I can’t wait.)

Bottom line on 4K: Big screen viewing demands 4K, and this Sony’s got it.

Reality Creation (Detail Enhancement)

RC is Sony’s dynamic detail enhancement and sharpening feature. It offers separate sharpness and detail enhancement settings. In the old days, the challenge for a projector was to simply to be sharp, to faithfully reproduce that which was on the source material. But in the last several years, as image processing improved dramatically, the new “thing” seems to be to go beyond. That is to image process to put back in – to the best of a projector’s ability, what was lost in the process of delivering the original content on a lower resolution than original (1080p) projector, thus to try to get the home experience closer to the theater one. RC when on, defaults to a setting of 20 out of 100.   Depending on content, I find I can enjoy it pushed to 40 but not much higher – some content I can push it to 50-60, but not much.

The interesting thing is that RC works with 4K content as well. You likely won’t mess with it too much, at all, with 4K content. I stuck to 20, except for specifically when I was playing with it to see the affects of different settings.

One special note: Thanks to Sony owning one of the major library of movies (Sony Pictures and affiliates), you’ll find in Blu-ray that there are a number of 1080p Sony Blu-ray discs labeled “mastered in 4K.” Those movies contain, on the disc, extra information that Sony’s projectors can grab to put back some of what was lost going to Blu-ray. In other words, rather than “guessing” with Reality Creation or say Epson’s Super-Resolution and JVC’s e-Shift3, those Sony discs provide a map to a better picture, which so far, only Sony can do.

Bottom line: RC takes your content, be it 1080 or 4K, and makes it seem sharper. (Apply as necessary!)

MotionFlow – Aka: CFI or Smooth Motion

With few exceptions, movies are shot at 24fps.  (A noted exception are The Hobbit movies shot at 48fps).  With 24fps, the eye does not see the movie as being perfectly smooth.  CFI works to smooth things out.  One problem.  it changes the feel of the movie.  As I repeat often enough, in the Bourne movies, camera shake is intentional to make the action more lively.  You don’t want a CFI making it seem less so.  That defeats the “director’s intent”.

On the other hand, I like CFI on sports content. It makes it easier to follow the fast action (check it out on ice hockey or tennis). Many folks watch content of all types on their LCDTVs with the TV’s smooth motion (CFI) engaged – they don’t even know it exists or is on.  Kids could care less.  Hard core movie viewers though would shudder at the thought of watching a lot of movies using it.

Bottom line:  With all that said, right or wrong, it’s a matter of personal preference.  If you like it – use it.  For me, it’s always off for movies, on only occasionally for HDTV other than sports.

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