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Sony VPL-VW600ES 4K Projector: Summary 2

Posted on March 4, 2014 by Art Feierman

The feature set of this Sony is pretty robust.  There's multiple CFI modes for smooth motion.  And of course there's Sony's sophisticated Reality Creation which can't take 1080 content and make it look like true 4K content, but, really does help produce a much sharper seeming image than "plain old 1080p".

One thing that's particularly impressive about Sony's Reality Creation is that it is apparently very smart.  Per Sony, it recognizes, for example faces, and the processing it applies to a face, will be different to, say, a lamp post, or a basketball.

I  reviewed Sony's VPL-HW55ES just a couple of months earlier.  Reality Creation was my favorite "detail enhancement" solution of the different ones offered by other companies.  That said, there really isn't much comparison with what a 1080p movie scene looks like after Reality Creation processing on the HW55ES compared to the VW600ES.  Not only can Reality Creation basically try to re-create what 4K might have looked like if the content was true 4K, but with the VW600ES it can show you the result, while with 1080p projectors, ultimately you still have to dial the resolution down to 1080 again.

What I'm trying to say is look at the same 1080p content on both the HW55ES and the VPL-VW600ES, and the 4K Sony reveals far more and just looks like a real step up in sharpness.

And then, just when you get done being impressed, you discover that true 4K content, is a whole magnitude even better.  Reality Creation works with 4K content as well, although I really didn't bother with any setting other than the default, very modest setting of 20 out of 100.

Lens Memory is a major league plus.   I suspect that a goodly number of potential VW600ES owners are really serious about movies, and therefore are more likely than the average home theater projector buyer, to go with a wide screen - a Cinemascope shaped screen such as my 2.35:1 screen.

With Lens Memory you can set up multiple settings, so that as I mentioned, you could not only have one size for 16:9, one for 2.35:1 but even others such as a smaller one for 3D viewing if you want more brightness.

3D is really good.  This is a three panel (or chip) LCoS projector, and it does have some crosstalk, so 3D isn't as clean as you can find on some good single chip DLP projectors (of lower resolution).  I've always compromised on 3D - there's the brightness, and the color is never up to 2D (we don't calibrate 3D modes, which probably helps, but generally, expect 2D to still have better color.

Remember, the Sony hardware is not just the projector, but also the 4K Media Player, and the Sony (android) tablet that runs it.   Eventually folks may not "need" a 4K media player as the new Blu-ray 4K standard comes out and content starts appearing in quantity.  In the meantime, although the amount of content is limited, but growing quickly, Sony is making a significant number of their large Sony Pictures library of movies available to buy, or rent via the Media Player.  I should note that at present, most movies currently available, such as Total Recall, are priced at $30 to own.  That's not bad as most new movies are $20 on Blu-ray, and 3D content is typically $30+ for 1080p.  So far, I didn't spot any 4K 3D content on Sony's service.

The Very Bottom Line: Sony VPL-VW600ES 4K Projector

The Sony VPL-VW600ES is awesome.  That about covers it.  Not perfect, merely awesome.  A year and a half ago, I described Sony's first (and higher end) 4K projector, the VW1000ES as:  "The Holy Grail of Home Theater Projectors."

Well, the VW600ES is still a minor step down, compared to the VW1000ES/VW1100ES, so I can't call it the holy grail, but as far as I'm concerned, its the next best thing.  In fairness, I can't get SIM2 or Runco to lend me any of their high end projectors (over $30,000) to compare it to, and there is a whole lot to be said about big, powerful 3 chip DLP projectors, but I cannot imagine that I would prefer any of them, until those guys make them 4K resolution.  I've reviewed, over the years, several of those companies projectors that were in the $20-$30K range.  No way I would want one of those over this merely $15,000 Sony.

But  every projector has its downsides, it's just that the VW600ES's primary downside is something that only time heals.  That would be the price.  Let's face it, 10 years ago the typical "lower cost" 720p home theater projector was $5000.  1080p?  good luck in finding them.    Then  five years or so ago, we started buying relatively entry level 1080p projectors for $3000+  Today, 1080p projectors start under $1000 for some respectable gear, and serious home theater at 1080p resolution is in the $2000 - $5000 range.  No doubt in 3-4 years, we'll have a choice of $5000 (or less) 4K projectors, but that's how it works.    BTW, back in 2000-2001, my old company was selling 42" plasma TVs for "only" $25,000.  Today - $499 (and higher resolution).

So, for those of us on limited budgets, the biggest issue with the VW600ES is that we can't afford it.  Certainly, I'd love to own this projector, but I'll have to settle for waiting a couple more years or so, until Sony, or someone else, has a killer.

There's competition out there around the price, I just can't, myself, see any of them being real competition in terms of what I value most.  SIM2's $19,999 Nero 3D2 was nice enough, but no match in resolution, nor brightness.  Runco's LS10 - $27,000+ with outboard processor certainly is a great projector, and I can even think of a couple of things that it probably can outdo the Sony on, but as a 1080p projector, no way I would consider it personally, even if it was the same price.  JVC's new X900R projector for $11,999 with it's tremendous native contrast, and "hand picked" components, is a superb projector (based on last year's - we haven't gotten in one of these yet).  It will have better blacks, for example, but the Sony's black level performance is still pretty darn good, and I would recommend true 4K as far more valuable than those improved blacks.  That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.  Disclosure:  Of these more expensive projectors; this Sony, the high end JVC, the Runcos and SIM2s, I can say than none of those four companies has advertised with us, with the exception (probably 5 years ago) when JVC ran a small campaign over 3 months.  In other words, no one's buying my vote.

That's it folks!   Time will create better, and more affordable projectors, but if you time is now, and you can rationalize the price of the Sony's VPL-VW600ES, it should be at the top of your list.  I really do not want to return this projector to Sony.  This is about as good as home theater projectors get to be.


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