We all know what a good versus a great experience feels like. From eating a “good” steak to driving a “nice” car – but what about that time you splurged on an “amazing” steak or rode in a super high-end car? Those are the experiences we remember and that make an impact on our lives.
Quality ingredients are what separate a good experience from a premium one. For example, a good steak vs a 45-day dry-aged prime cut. While a good steak in the hands of a good chef could deliver a good experience, a premium steak in the hands of the same chef would certainly deliver a better, more memorable meal.
When higher-quality parts are combined with a better recipe will always result in a much better experience. This theory applies to projectors as well. Quality ingredients offer a higher potential to deliver an outstanding viewing experience.
Think about how watching a movie like Avatar (the newly released sequel is supposed to be awesome!) on a “decent” projector – how much better would it be on a premium projector? The colors are much more vibrant and immersive, making you feel like you are visiting their world. That is an experience you will always remember.
In this month’s article, sponsored by Sony, we will discuss how stepping up from a good home theater projector to a premium projector is not only within reach from a price point perspective, but why it is an investment you might want to make for a more memorable experience and significantly enhanced enjoyment as we head into the new year.
With the introduction of the XW5000ES ($6000 SRP), you now have the opportunity to step up from a good experience to a premium one at a price that is within the range of most projector enthusiasts. Let’s look at some features in Sony XW Series projectors that separate a merely “good” projector from an outstanding projector.
Premium Picture Quality
Sony was the first company to introduce a native 4K home theater projector and their new XW5000ES is the latest in their 4K SXRD lineup. It is a 2,000-lumen laser projector and the least expensive native 4K laser Home Theater projector on the market today. Let’s look at why this is a game changer and why you might consider this premium projector for your home theater.
Why Step Up to a Three Chip Imager From Single chip DLP
Most good home theater projectors are single-chip DLP models. While single-chip DLP can offer a good viewing experience, moving up to a three-chip imaging system delivers a noticeable bump in picture quality.
DLP technology works when light passes through a spinning RGB color wheel and then bounces off a single DLP (or DMD, Digital Micromirror Device) chip that is covered with micro-mirrors. The light is reflected off the mirrors on the chip, then passes through the projector’s lens and onto the screen to produce an image. Because DLP projectors only require a single chip, they are often smaller and more affordable than three-chip counterparts.
However, a single-chip DLP projector utilizing a mechanical spinning color wheel could result in some “rainbow effect,” but utilizing a multi-color LED-based, and laser-based light source eliminates the need for the spinning color wheel, which minimizes this effect.
In a three-chip imager system, the picture is produced by light passing through a prism that divides it into red, green, and blue. Each chip is identified with one of these three colors. Micromirrors then reflect this colored light, with their digital (on/off) mirrors, and the light gets recombined and out the lens to the screen.
With 3 Chip LCoS, the process is similar to 3LCD, in that you start by splitting the light into three beams. A key difference, though, is that LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) is a reflective panel (like DLP) rather than transmissive (light passing through it), like the 3LCD panels. So, light bounces off the LCoS panels, then to a dichroic prism (like 3LCD) to recombine the light into a single, full-color image.
LCoS imagers have a higher pixel density than their DLP or LCD counterparts so a smaller LCoS chip can produce more resolution. This is why most native 4K Home Theater projectors utilize LCoS chips.
Native 4K SXRD Panels Deliver High Native Contrast and Vibrant Colors
All Sony 4K projectors including the XW5000ES use a three-chip native 4K SXRD imaging system which is derived from Sony’s version of LCoS technology used in Sony 4K cinema projectors found in some of the world’s best movie theaters. The SXRD acronym stands for Silicon X-tal Reflective Display, where X-tal is a common abbreviation for crystal.
Sony XW Series projectors feature newly developed 0.61″ Native 4K UHD (3840×2160) SXRD panels. Unlike some competitors’ 2K pixel shifting 3LCD projectors, the new native 4K UHD SXRD panels found in the XW-Series can faithfully reproduce all 8.3 million pixels found in the 4K UHD SDR and HDR content you watch every day.
Since all 8.3 million pixels and all the laser light source’s output are utilized on a 16x9 screen, there is no wasted resolution or brightness. While the new SXRD panels are still Sony’s proprietary version of LCoS technology which delivers high contrast ratio and deep blacks, they are also more compact.
Smaller, denser SXRD panels reduce the size of the optical block and lenses, resulting in compact projectors which can deliver the performance of larger models. This is one of the main reasons why the XW-Series projectors are the lightest and most compact native 4K projectors in their class.
Sony SXRD panels can deliver more native contrast than standard LCD panels or DLP chips used in consumer displays. Sony also made improvements to the technology used to drive the new SXRD panels which results in more precise grayscale gradation and finer color reproduction.
Z-Phosphor Laser light Source Produces High Brightness and Low Maintenance
In the past, high-end manufacturers like Sony and JVC continued to choose bulbs for their projectors that retailed for under $10,000 due to the quality of light they produce. While bulbs can produce a great-looking image, their limited lifespan can be an expensive hassle.
Sony’s high-quality, reliable Z-Phosphor laser light source which ensures up to 20,000 hours of uninterrupted operation, with no lamp replacement and virtually zero maintenance. If you used an XW-Series projector for 8 hours a day, five days a week, the laser light engine would last about a decade.
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. This laser light source uses a bright blue laser to excite phosphorous material which created a full spectrum of light and results in incredibly vibrant colors.
A few years ago, to buy a Sony projector with the Z-Phosphor laser light technology would have cost you nearly four-times more than the $6,000 retail price tag of the XW5000ES. Which is yet another reason we are impressed by the XW5000ES.