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Sony VPL-VW600ES 4K Projector - Summary

Posted on March 4, 2014 by Art Feierman

The VW600ES is not just about 4K!

Certainly 4K is the big thing about Sony's new VPL-VW600ES projector.  And even more certainly, the Sony being native 4K - Ultra HD, (actually higher at 4096x2160) explains the $15,000 price point, but don't kid yourself.  At an appropriately lower price, the VPL-VW600ES, if it was only 1080p, it would be one hell of a 1080p projector in terms of performance and picture quality.

In that sense, the VW600ES projector is roughly comparable to the Sony VPL-VW95ES (roughly $6000), although it is certainly more advanced, starting with Reality Creation which Sony started offering after the 95ES was already shipping.

What we have here is a projector with superb color handling (merely great before calibration), and even better after).  But it also has black level performance that would make any  1080p projector under $5000 insanely jealous.

Below another batch of photos - 1080i content from HDTV, 1080p from Blu-ray movies, and of course, some true 4K images as well. Again, I remind that even when you click to enlarge, the resolution of these photos is way below that of 1080p, let alone 3840x2160 Ultra-HD 4K content.  In other words, there's a lot more detail to be seen when watching the VPL-VW600ES projector handling 4K content, whether that provided by Sony, or my own photos taken with a Canon 60D camera.  My Sony PS3 can output my hi-res photos and display them with 4K resolution.

The photos above speak for themselves, especially the 4K ones.  Watching the provided 4K content in my theater definitely dazzled me, but friends invited in to view the 4K sequences of the "girl in red", just about freaked out with expressions such as "I've never seen anything like it,"  "that's unbelievable," "that's miles better than anything else I've seen in your theater (0r at the movie theater)".   And, of course more emotional responses like "WOW," "holy s*** and OMG have been uttered as well.

I tend to agree.  It's been well over a year since I reviewed the VW1000ES (now essentially sold as the VW1100ES, which is higher end still (even better black level performance comes to mind), and I assume, in a side by side comparison, the VW1100ES will come out on top, but, for an extra $12,000 it better.

I've always liked to sit relatively close. For my 124" diagonal 2.35:1 screen my head is about 9 feet from the screen, which many would think: "Too close!"    I am at the point, at that distance, where pixels are just shy of being visible.  With the VW600ES though, and 4K content, everything will be sharper at 150" than my existing projector looks doing 1080p.

VPL-VW600ES Brightness

In terms of putting one of these VW600ES projectors in your home theater, the good news is you really have more than enough brightness, at least in 2D, for movie watching on typical screens up to at least 150" diagonal.

Think of it this way, for the same brightness you would find in a typical movie theater (12-16 ft lamberts), you need around 400 lumens with a typical 1.1 gain screen that is 100 inches diagonal.

Since the VPL-VW600ES has about four times the brightness - post calibration, we can quickly interpolate that it should be able to handle a screen size of up to 200" diagonal while producing it's best possible picture.  That should make it the darling of many hollywood directors, cinema-photographers, etc., for their home screening rooms - which are typically a magnitude larger than the home theater screens we mere mortals own.

As always, there's always the issue of 3D, as you always give up more than half and more typically about 2/3rds of 2D brightness.  Now few people will have two different sized screens; one for 2D and a larger one for 3D.  Most of us therefore settle for not quite as bright as we would like when viewing 3D, because we're filling the same sized screen.

Of course, with a projector that has lens memory, as this Sony projector does, there's nothing to stop an owner from creating a smaller projected image for use with 3D, that can be accessed at the touch of a button on the remote control.  And of course, if you go a step further, you could have a masking system that would mask the visible screen size down to the size of your 3D projection.

When watching other content, the Sony may not be much brighter than it is calibrated, but it still qualifies as a light canon.   Now the rich and famous can put one of these in a non-home theater environment, such as a less than well light controlled family room or bonus, or media, or living room.  For those that can afford, why not, after all, part of the reason for owning this VW600ES is the gorgeous 4K output.  Why not have a super sharp 4K projector in your media room?  Soon enough we'll start seeing 4K coming in over satellite, cable and broadcast.  Certainly I'd much rather watch my NFL football in true 4K or Ultra-HD whatever you prefer to call it, than in 1080i - who wouldn't.

And that's fine, because the VPL-VW600ES does put up over 1700 lumens at maximum, and the picture still looks pretty great, if not as perfect as as the not much less bright calibrated mode.

When you look around the market, any projector that can put noticeably more than 2000 lumens on the screen fits into one of two categories.  Home entertainment projectors which really aren't remotely comparable and mostly under $1500, and super expensive high brightness projectors from the real high end companies, such as SIM2 and Runco.  Of course most of those much brighter projectors, cost $30,000 to $100,000+ and are still only 1080p resolution.

In other words, short of dropping an amount of cash on your next projector that makes this Sony seem downright inexpensive, nothing serious really is significantly brighter.

End of conversation on brightness.

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