Projector Reviews

Step up to a Premium Home Theater Projector with the Sony XW5000ES – Page 2

Enhanced Video Processing (X1 Ultimate)

We could write an entire article on just the benefits of Sony processing and in fact, we did, and you can find it here.

HDR content is the current hot topic in home theater entertainment. HDR imagery comes closest to the reality our eyes see daily, with higher contrast, increased color volume, deeper blacks, and exceptional dynamic range. However, it is exceptionally challenging to reproduce HDR content on a projector. HDR content contains brightness information that far exceeds the capabilities of a standard home theater projector, so a huge leap in video processing horsepower was required.

4K upscaling, visual contrast, color reproduction, and motion performance all depend on the processor, which is like the “brain” of the projector.

The X1 Ultimate Video Processor was originally designed for Sony’s lineup of OLED and LCD flat-panel TVs. The version found in the VPL-XW5000ES has been optimized with the goal of enhancing the picture quality of projected images.

This projector-optimized version of the X1 Ultimate which was first introduced in Sony’s flagship VPL-GTZ380 combines innovative technologies for high-precision frame analysis, enabling unique features like Dynamic HDR Enhancer and Reality Creation.

While there is a lot more 4K HDR content available, we still watch quite a bit of HD content. When HD content is projected onto a massive screen, you will often see noise and artifacts. To maximize HD to 4K upscaling, the X1 Ultimate also includes Dual Database Processing.

This technology utilizes two powerful image improvement databases which work together to dynamically enhance images in real-time. 4K X-Reality PRO™ uses one database to upscale images to near 4K clarity while a second database cleans the picture and reduces onscreen noise.

With the X1 processor, the XW5000ES features Sony’s exclusive Reality Creation technology that analyzes HD, 4K, and HDR content frame-by-frame to enhance detail and color. Reality Creation is Sony’s Super Resolution processing technology that enhances HD content and has been doing so for decades in movie theaters. Every pixel is analyzed and matched to a picture patterning database compiled over 10+ years to enhance colors, contrast, and textures. The X1 processor ensures that Full HD is upscaled close to 4K quality.

The X1 Ultimate Processor not only improves the detail and resolution of any source, but it also provides a noticeable improvement in the HDR performance compared to older Sony 4K SXRD models. HDR content will be brighter with richer colors, deeper black levels, and bright highlight detail will be more visible.

Of all the benefits of the X1 processor, the most notable is the Dynamic HDR Enhancer feature which dramatically improves the look of HDR content. Using the Dynamic HDR Enhancer HDR content can be analyzed scene-by-scene for precise dynamic tone mapping. This makes the bright scenes brighter and the dark scenes darker.

The Sony 4K SXRD projector like the XW5000ES is compatible with both HDR10 and HLG content. Since most HDR10+ and Dolby Vision content is either backward compatible with or available in HDR10, you will be able to watch most of the HDR content available on 4K Blu-ray Disc and streaming services. HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) was developed for live broadcast, so you can enjoy sports and award shows when the networks start broadcasting.

Also, another feature called Object-Based HDR Remaster analyzes and then adjusts the color and contrast of the individual onscreen element frame-by-frame. While some competitive projectors can make these adjustments, they usually apply a single contrast curve to the entire image. Because Object-Based HDR Remaster and the X1 Ultimate adjust each object on screen separately, using multiple contrast curves per frame, you will see greater depth, richer textures, and a much more realistic image when viewing both SDR and HDR content.

High-Quality Lenses

All Sony projectors use a high-quality, multi-element lens system which is superior to many competitors optic solutions. The primary goal of a projector is to do no harm – simply to preserve and display the color, contrast, and detail found in the original signal. Anyone who has ever been to a carnival funhouse or looked through a dirty mirror knows that optics can absolutely distort an image or obscure the detail. Sony SXRD panels are native 4K UHD panels so quality lenses are critical to ensure that all the resolution makes it from the panels to the screen.

Sony 4K SXRD projector utilizes two quality levels of optics. The XW5000ES uses the standard lens, but it has been redesigned to match the new 0.61” 4K UHD SXRD panels. It delivers impressive sharpness and clarity, especially compared to the optics found on 4K capable DLP projectors near its price range.

Placement Flexibility

Large Zoom Range

While aligning the image to a screen may seem simple, many installations can be challenging due to limitations on where you can place the projector. This can be especially true when replacing your “good” projector” with your premium projector since you likely won’t need to replace the projector mount, taking hours and $$$ off your installation. Also, for someone with limited placement options for a projector, placement flexibility can be a deal breaker.

The XW5000ES has a zoom range of 1:60:1, which is more than enough to make for flexibility in the placement of this projector. This is a lot of zoom range compared to most home theater projectors whose zoom lenses usually range between 1.1:1 to 1.6:1, depending on the brand and model.

Horizontal / Vertical Lens Shift

In addition to a larger zoom range, to significantly simplify installation, horizontal and vertical lens shift is also incredibly important. All Sony XW-Series have a good amount of lens shift. For example, the lens shift range of the XW5000ES is +85/-80% Vertical and +/-33% Horizontal.

While you might be able to use digital keystoning to correct an image, you will likely be sacrificing resolution, which is something most passionate home theater enthusiasts are unwilling to do. Sony feels so strongly about the reduced picture performance when using keystone adjustments, they don’t offer it in their home theater projectors

So, this is something to think about when stepping up to your premium projector – even if two projectors theoretically deliver similar picture quality, how the projector integrates into your room can result in one of them producing a much better picture in your particular environment when you can use lens shift.

Conclusion

In this article we discuss why stepping up from a “good” projector to a premium projector might make sense for you and be at a price range within reach of many projector enthusiasts. There are lots of reasons to consider upgrading your home theater, but some of the most compelling reasons – picture quality and placement flexibility – are what really can take your “good” viewing experience to an amazing viewing experience and truly enhance your enjoyment of your system. These are some of the many reasons we are so impressed with the Sony XW5000ES.

When designing and building a projector, there are many ways a manufacturer can allocate resources. Every manufacturer makes budgetary decisions based on what they think will give their customers the best experience and will make their projectors more attractive to buy. While some manufacturers include sound systems or smart features, Sony chooses to invest primarily in the things that enhance picture quality.

So, for example, to achieve the XW5000ES targeted price point of $6000, their investment went into the lens, the SXRD panels, the laser light source, and the brain because those components deliver the best picture quality. If you put the XW5000ES side-by-side with a similarly priced or less expensive competitor model, you will see the difference.

While the XW5000ES doesn’t offer some features like motorized lenses, like all Sony 4K SXRD home theater projectors, it delivers the outstanding viewing experience that Sony is famous for. It’s like buying a base model Porsche 911 versus a fully loaded Turbo model. The base car will give you most of Porsche’s famous premium driving experience, but the top-of-the-line model is just faster and adds additional luxury and refinement.

Sony offers more features on their higher-end projectors like the XW7000ES and the XW6000ES, but they might be out of budget for many home theater enthusiasts. For anyone looking for a native 4K laser projector, the XW5000ES provides amazing value.

If you have a budget of $6000, there are many great home theater projectors to choose from. However, the 3-chip native 4K SXRD system used in Sony Home Theater projectors is far superior to the 1-chip DLP devices used in most other Home Theater projectors.

I have yet to find a single-chip consumer 4K DLP projector that could come close to the color fidelity, native contrast, and black levels of a good LCoS projector like the Sony XW5000ES. It is not even a fair fight as Sony 4K SXRD projectors are in a completely different league.

So, if you have the budget to step up from a 4K DLP projector to a 3-chip 4K LCoS projector like a Sony 4K SXRD unit, you should absolutely do it. Why settle for good, when you can now get premium at an affordable price with minimal to no disruptions in replacing your projector? This is why we are so impressed with the Sony XW5000ES. We certainly think it’s worth the investment in yourself as we head into 2023. New year, new enhanced home theater!