Projector Reviews

Sony VPL-VZ1000ES Laser, True 4K, Home Theater Projector Review

The Sony VPL-VZ1000ES is a 4K ultra short throw home theater projector. It is one serious projector, which claims 2500 lumens, at a hefty $24,995 list price. That’s not exactly chump change. In addition to being true 4K, it supports HDR which stands for high dynamic range. It also supports a wider color gamut (BT2020)  than we are used to with HDTV or Blu-ray disc (REC709). The short story: this Sony projector is similar in most ways to Sony’s flagship, but less than half the price, exactly half the brightness.  It has an ultra short throw design, which is significant.  It is a three chip (panel) LCoS projector – which Sony trademarks as SXRD.

This review is a bit different than most of my other home theater reviews.  My goal is primarily to describe the experience, rather than go over the top focusing on details.  That’s due to the nature of most people likely to buy this projector.  Other than those “hobbyists” who will sell their first born for a great projector, the rest of you, I figure are mostly reasonably well heeled folks who won’t quibble about the price tag, or worry about the cost of calibrating it, in fact, they are most likely people who will end up spending far more on their theater or other room’s furniture, than they will spend on this projector.

Sony VZ1000ES looking great on scene from Lucy, in my living room. Note however, this was not taken when the patio behind, and the room itself are drenched in sunlight. (See other images.)

Some of these projectors will end up in a room and system costing $50K, but others might spend $250K or more!  (Think those fancy themed theaters, $3,000+ each for good leather seats, a first class surround sound system, etc.  If you have the bucks, it’s easy to spend a ton creating a theater. Most likely this projector will be just a small part of many people’s system, at least financially, but a huge part of the enjoyment!

The Sony is also intended, thanks to its ultra short throw design when paired with the right screen, to leave the dedicated theater, and play in other rooms, but ones with at least reasonable lighting (unlike my own living room, as you will see later.)

I really loved it in my home theater.  When I moved it downstairs into my ridiculously bright living room, paired with a Screen Innovations Black Diamond UST screen, I found my bright living room’s ambient light on sun-drenched days to be just too much for its 2500 lumens to handle, but it worked well in the same room under less strenuous challenges (i.e. at night with a lot of lights on, or on any not overly bright day like the one in the image above.

VPL-VZ1000ES Overview

The VZ1000ES was delivered to me from Sony HQ in the San Diego area.  Color, “right out of the box” is very good, but not quite as on the money as some other Sony’s we’ve reviewed in the past 2-3 years.  Still, in Reference mode, it’s pretty close.  More on that later. Sony helped me drag the VZ1000ES up to my theater, and hooked it up, and I was immediately able to fully enjoy it.

After several days (as originally I was told I’d only have it for one week), I moved it downstairs into my living room where I paired it with the SI Black Diamond UST screen.  I’ll discuss that experience in detail.

One major advantage of UST projectors for home, is that when paired with the right screen, high quality home theater can come out of the dedicated theater, and thrive in less desirable rooms.  Still you won’t want a deal with a really bright living room, even with the VZ1000ES paired with the right screen.  With a projector of this calibre it would be a shame to lose more than just a small bit of picture quality to ambient light.

The VPL-VZ1000ES can be placed on a credenza just below your screen, or dropped into a a custom cabinet so its essentially invisible.  Or it can be ceiling or wall mounted above the screen.  It can fill a 100″ diagonal screen from as close as 6 inches!  It’s ultra short throw lens works with screen sizes from 80″ to 120″ diagonal.

This is a well endowed true 4K projector.  Four HDMI inputs, 3D, Hybrid-Log-Gamma support (a standard for 4K streaming that may catch on), a 20,000 hour laser phosphor light engine.  It has MHL  on one HDMI for working (including streaming) from mobile devices such as tablets, smart phones, and more. It even has a dynamic iris to help with the black levels on the darkest (but not black frame) scenes.

I put almost 150 hours viewing the VZ1000ES in action, while it was visiting me.  That’s a lot of enjoyment, and a good bit of popcorn.

Sony VPL-ZV10000ES 4K Projector - Overview

  • True 4K resolution – no pixel shifting
  • Support for HDR, BT2020 / P3
  • Support for 4K streaming with Hybrid Log-Gamma
  • Ultra Short Throw Design
  • 2500 lumens – over 2000 in most modes
  • Power lens features
  • LAN connection
  • Extremely quiet
  • Can sit on a piece of furniture, be ceiling mounted, or recessed into custom cabinetry
  • Multiple black cosmetic (shiny) panels cover cable area, sides, etc. dress up projector relative to our local photos (we did not put on the panels)
  • Full featured remote
  • Three year warranty