Greetings projector fans, it's time to talk about the two new Sony projectors. This blog will cover the more "affordable" Sony VPL-VW600ES, priced at a mere $14999.
Sony's VPL-VW600ES - Lowest cost true 4K projector, 1700 lumens and amazing!
Update 10/2/13: Great news, Sony says they are bringing me the VPL-VW600ES they had at CEDIA. I should have it tomorrow or Friday, for a week. So I should be able to complete most of the full review. They then need it back, but perhaps I can distract them and confuse them enough that they will forget to come get it. (One needs to dream to thrive). I can't wait.
The VPL-VW600ES is also available bundled with Sony's round 4K server and a Sony tablet for an additional $1000!
Before I discuss the VW600ES in more depth, I'll just briefly mention that the other new 4K projector is
the VPL-VW1100Es which replaces the VW1000ES. That one is $27,999 and an extra $1000 for the 4K server and tablet, if desired.
Let me start by saying that I had one of the pre-production VW600ES projectors here (in my home) to play with for about 6 hours, a couple weeks before the show, but coudn't say a word, due to the usual non-disclosure agreements.
If you are one of the lucky, that can seriously consider a $15,000 projector, the Sony VPL-VW600ES is dazzling.
The primary differences between the VW600ES and it's more expensive sibling lie in two areas: The optics are, per Sony, superior on the more expensive Sony, and the black levels are better. If you recall, I had said about the VW1000ES that it had the best dynamic iris enhanced black levels I have encountered. The VW600ES isn't that good, but my take from playing with it, is that the projector's blacks are superior to the Sony VW50ES and comparable or better than the VW95ES or Epson Home Cinema 5020UB/Pro Cinema 6020UB projectors.
That is to say, not the best black levels in the world but pretty impressive none-the-less, and as good as pretty much anything except JVC's higher end 2K projectors (I still won't consider their 4K e-Shift to be true 4K). So that's pretty spectacular blacks.
Unlike a review, the VPL-VW600ES came to me all configured, calibrated, etc. And again, it was an engineering sample - definitely pre-production, so the settings likely would be different from what we get when we get one in for review and Mike calibrates it.
Whether at CEDIA or in my theater, the Sony's skin tones looked really great, and that's one of the most important things to consider. At both CEDIA, and in my theater I got to see true 4K content, as well as upscaled 2K (1080p) content.
As with the older VW1000ES 4K content was truly astonishing.
Upscaling of course can be impressive, but it's true 4K that blows me away. There was a whole lot of footage from Carnival in Rio. Mind boggling comes to mind.
The VW600ES has lens memory, so if 2.35:1 or 2.40:1 Cinemascope / anamorphic shaped screens are where you want to be, no problem. This Sony allows multiple lens memory positions to be saved so that you can go back between true "wide-screen" and HDTV content effortlessly from the remote control.
I'll run through a few features now, but the picture is really the main thing. I just love the idea of having a very sharp image (with true 4K content, while sitting only 7-8 feet from my 124" diagonal screen. I live for the immersion - especially if the content is 3D.
Speaking of 3D, which I got to view at my house, nothing to complain about there. There's a healthy number of lumens under the hood (rated 1700 lumens), to do a respectable job on my sized screen! Note that the VW600ES also does 2D to 3D conversion on the fly!
One feature which really caught my attention, but no way to "demo" it, is Sony's built in "auto calibration". Sony says it knows what output to the screen looks like, so that if things change (such as adding light colored furniture) might affect the picture, it remembers and adjusts. Does that work for aging lamps? I would hope so, but never got to ask, or at least not get a precise answer. I'll let you know.
Sony is sticking with a motorized 1.6:1 zoom lens (although a less expensive lens than the one on the VW1100ES or VW1000ES). There's tons of vertical and horizontal lens shift...I think only the Epson projectors offer slightly more. No matter - there's still tons of lens shift, or for those of you in some other parts of the world... Tonnes.
Is Sony's VPL-VW600ES worth $15K? You all know the drill, it's time vs. money. 10 years ago most 720p projectors sold for at least $4000. Today, Optoma has half a dozen under $600. So, sure, if you are in no hurry, or the money is tight, wait. Certainly in 3 years there will be 4K projectors for well under $5000, or at least one would expect... (The world seems to think 8K will be the standard by 2020, in fact, in one discussion I had at the show, it was suggested that Broadcast TV (and maybe satellite/cable) will skip true 4K and go right to 8K content, but out 6-7 years. The technology will be there by then, in terms of downloading speeds, storage...
But if you have the money, from what little I've seen, there's nothing I'd rather have that costs less. Ok, those higher end JVC projectors at $8,000 and $12,000 will easily beat this Sony at black levels, but I'd certainly rather give up the difference in black levels (since the Sony's damn good at them anyway) in exchange for 4K. I have no doubts, I'd definitely spring the extra for the Sony were I able.
I don't recall seeing 3D being demo'd on the Sony at the show, but I definitely did get a good look at 3D at my house, weeks ago. Got to watch a chunk of Ultimate Wave Tahiti. Think good 3D looks great now? Can't wait until I'm watching 3D in true 4K.
Enough gushing already. I really have only one complaint about the VPL-VW600ES, and that is the price. I'm not saying that it's not a fair price, but I sure wish they had achieved $9999, as that probably would find a whole lot more folks in the world watching this projector.
I can't wait to get this one in to review. Good luck to Sony prying this one out of my hands. Nothing short of nukes, or a VW1100ES is likely to convince me to return this one when it arrives in a month or so for review.