Posted on September 28, 2022 By Phil Jones
The Sony VPL-XW5000ES is a 2000-lumen native 4K home theater laser projector that retails for $6,000. The XW5000ES, which is Sony’s entry-level 4K home theater, is the least expensive native 4K 3-chip LCOS projector on the market.
The Sony XW5000ES is the successor of the highly-rated VPL-VW325ES ($5500 SRP), which we reviewed last year. The VW325ES was one of my favorite projectors because it offered accurate color, deep blacks, and high native contrast. In fact, the VW325ES was my number one recommendation for anyone whose budget was less than $6000.
While the VW325ES was an excellent unit, the new XW5000ES offers several notable features that make it a worthy replacement.
All of Sony’s current lineup up of 4K home theater projectors, including the XW5000ES, utilize a Z-Phosphor laser light source. The laser light source has a rated life of 20,000 hours which results in years of nearly maintenance-free operation. The fact that the XW5000ES is a laser projector is a big deal. In the past, the least expensive laser light source equipped 4K SXRD projector was the VW915ES which retailed for about $20,000.
In addition to a Z-Phosphor laser source, the XW5000ES also utilizes Sony’s new 0.61 native 4K UHD SXRD panels. While these panels are more compact, they still offer native 4K UHD resolution, deep blacks, and high native contrast.
Previously all Sony 4K Home Theater projectors used 0.74″ SXRD panels with the same native cinematic 4K resolution (4096×2160) and 17:9 aspect ratio as your favorite 4K movie theater projector. However, most consumer 4K content is produced in 4K UHD, which is 3840×2160 with an aspect ratio of 16:9. This means that nearly 7% of the older SXRD panel’s resolution was not utilized when viewing 4K UHD material on a 16:9 screen.
When using a 16:9 screen, the extra pixels found on the 0.74″ SXRD panels were just zoomed off the screen. Not only were you not using all the pixels on screen you were not using all the projector’s brightness.
The new 0.61″ native 4K UHD SXRD panels were designed to faithfully reproduce all 8.3 million pixels found in the 4K UHD (3840×2160) SDR and HDR content you watch daily. The result is a more compact/lighter chassis with no wasted resolution or brightness.
Smaller, denser SXRD panels also reduce the size of the optical block and lenses, resulting in a compact projector that can deliver the performance of a larger model. This is one of the main reasons why the XW5000ES is the lightest and most compact native 4K projector in its class. When compared to the VPL-VW325ES, the new XW5000ES is slightly smaller and lighter while delivering 500 lumens more brightness.
While the new SXRD panels used in the XW5000ES offer very high native contrast, the projector’s dynamic contrast is nearly infinite due to its ability to precisely modulate its Z-Phosphor laser light source.
As of 2022, all Sony 4K SXRD projectors, including the entry-level XW5000ES are equipped with the X1 Ultimate video processors, which have been optimized for projector applications. The X1 Ultimate is Sony’s most powerful video processor, and it was first introduced in Sony’s flagship 4K SXRD projector, the VPL-GTZ380.
Of all the benefits of the X1 Ultimate Processor, the most notable is the Dynamic HDR Enhancer feature which dramatically improves the look of HDR content.
Thanks to the Dynamic HDR Enhancer, the XW5000ES can analyze HDR content scene-by-scene and then precisely adjust the signal levels in the light/dark areas and laser light intensity automatically to optimize the HDR contrast according to a scene. HDR scenes are brighter, with richer colors and a better black level.
In addition, a second feature called Object-based HDR Remaster analyzes and adjusts the colors and contrast of individual objects on the screen. Some projectors can adjust contrast frame-by-frame, this is accomplished along a single contrast curve. The X1 Ultimate adjusts each object in each frame individually of both SDR and HDR content using multiple contrast curves per frame. Because of Object-based HDR Remaster, you will experience results in greater depth, richer textures, and an even more realistic SDR and HDR image. The XW5000ES is compatible with both HDR10 and HLG content.
While more and more 4K HDR content is available every day, we still watch a lot of HD content. When HD content is projected onto a massive screen, you often see noise and artifacts. For even better 4K upscaling, the X1 Ultimate also includes Dual Database Processing. Two powerful image improvement databases work together, dynamically improving images in real-time. 4K X-Reality PRO™ upscales images to near 4K clarity while a second database cleans the picture and reduces onscreen noise.
To maximize the gaming experience, the XW5000ES includes a Low Latency Game Mode. When this mode is engaged, the projector switches off most of its video processing to dramatically reduce game lag.
Sony quotes 27ms input lag when playing content in 4K@60fps and just 16ms gaming in Full HD@120fps. We measured 4K/60p at 28ms and 1080/120p at 17ms, which will satisfy most gamers.
In addition to the XW5000ES, Sony is introducing two additional laser-based 4K SXRD Home Theater models. Check out our video interview above with Rob Brennan (Sony’s Product Technology & Training Manager) from the Spring 2022 Projection Showcase, where we discuss the new lineup in detail.
While Sony has slimmed down their projector lineup slightly, they still offer a total of five 4K HDR home theater projectors, starting with the XW5000ES ($6,000 SRP) and moving up to the flagship GTZ380, which is $80,000 (minus the ARC-F Lens).
As we mentioned earlier, the Sony VPL-XW5000ES ($6000 SRP), which retails for $500 more than the VW325ES ($5500 SRP), is still the least expensive native 4K LCOS-based 3-chip projector on the market.
Like all the new Sony 4K SRXD models, it utilizes the X1 Ultimate video processor and a laser light source. Previously you would have to spend at least $20,000 to get a Sony Laser SXRD projector, laser sources are now available on Sony models starting at just $6000.
See below for a summary of the Sony 4K SXRD projector lineup for 2022.
Stepping up from the XW5000ES to the VPL-XW6000ES ($11,000 SRP) adds a higher-end motorized ACF lens with 2.1:1 zoom and picture position memories. The XW6000ES also delivers 500 ANSI lumens more brightness.
The VPL-XW7000ES ($26,000 SRP), which we reviewed earlier, replaces both the VPL-VW915ES ($20,000 SRP) and the VPL-VW1025ES ($40,000 SRP). When compared to the XW6000ES, the XW7000ES can deliver 700 lumens more brightness.
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