Sony VPL-VW1000ES 4K SXRD Projector Page 3

But brightness isn’t everything. Despite the oddities in that Pixel Phase pattern (which technically indicates some loss of detail in the 4K upconversion), I had no complaints at all about the projector’s visible resolution from a normal viewing distance. The resolution was so good, in fact, that I could easily spot subtle focus variations in the material—more common than you’d think in most movies (filmmakers likely assume, correctly, that you won’t see this in the typical middling multiplex—but you will here). Surprisingly, regular HD material upconverted by the projector to 4K was in some ways more impressive than the limited 4K sources Sony provided us (more on this below). To see such resolution from conventional HD material on a screen this large is simply jaw dropping.

It isn’t really possible to accurately say how much benefit you get from the VPL-VW1000ES’ upconversion of 1920 x 1080 sources to 4K. The only definitive way to judge this would be if the projector offered a true 1:1 aspect ratio mode—a true passthrough. In that case, standard HD would only occupy 25 percent of the screen at its center, surrounded by black on all sides from the 75 percent of the pixels that remain unused. Assuming sufficient zoom range (probably not a likely assumption), you could then zoom that image up to fill the screen, save it in a lens memory, and toggle back and forth. But the VPL-VW1000ES has no such passthrough mode, so this procedure was not possible.

Viewed from close up—that is, a foot or so from the screen—I could spot some lighter-gray, almost ghost-like pixels. This was possibly a result of the upconversion—not artifacts per se, but deliberate fill to smooth out the image as the Sony processes it to fit into the 4K matrix. These pixels blended into the overall image at any comfortable viewing distance.

You can’t expect SD sources to hold up as well when enlarged to almost 10 feet wide. They didn’t, but if I sat a bit further back, a well-produced SD DVD could be surprisingly effective. Charlotte Ray, one of the most beautifully photographed movies of the past decade and one of my reference standards for picture quality before Blu-ray, was still satisfying—good news if you have an extensive DVD collection you don’t want to replace. Nevertheless, spending $25,000 on a projector, plus a screen, to watch mostly DVDs and other standard-definition material would be peculiar indeed. The VPL-VW1000ES deserves the best source material you can give it.

The Sony’s blacks were respectable in its fixed iris settings but exceptional in the Auto Full dynamic mode. Some viewers dislike irises and consider them kludges at best. But video (and film) technology is full of kludges designed around the limitations of human vision. Yes, there were a few times I could see the iris operate, but these almost never occurred in the midst of a film or other real-world program material. If you jump suddenly from a black field test pattern to a brighter pattern, the latter will fade in over a fraction of a second rather than pop up instantly. But such abrupt brightness changes are rare in movies. Fade-ins and fade-outs are the general rule when transitioning from a dark scene to a bright one and back. In these situations, the operation of the iris was almost always visually undetectable.

You might notice when you call up the menu in a dark scene, the menu is dim, whereas on a brighter scene, it’s brighter. And the brightness of end credits can sometimes vary slowly as the amount of white lettering on the black background changes. But if you’re only vaguely aware of such subtle dynamic iris issues for a few seconds during a two-hour movie but get the benefit of better blacks for the entire film, where’s the beef? As I’ve noted before, no one does dynamic irises better than Sony.

In my early viewing, I sat about 10 feet from the screen, which is about 1.8 picture heights. (See the sidebar: “So Near and Yet So Far: How Close Should I Sit?”). That proved to be a bit too close for comfort, though extremely revealing. I ultimately settled on a distance of 13 to 14 feet from the screen as optimum—for me. From there, the results were more than just impressive. Images were crisp and sharply detailed.

And the best HD sources looked amazing. The visuals in Avatar were standouts. Some of the opening shots looked a bit too soft—such as the close-ups of Jake as he watches his brother’s cremation. But that was clearly a focus issue in the source; later close-ups in the film were pin sharp. And the black level and shadow detail could hardly have been better, including both the richness of the star field behind the ship as it approaches Pandora and the dark but clearly resolved night scenes when Jake is stranded in the forest.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader isn’t quite as visually impressive as Avatar, but it was nevertheless captivating. The dragon’s scales, Lucy’s freckles, and Aslan’s fur blowing in the wind were all vividly reproduced. While the question remains as yet unanswered as to whether the 4K upconversion is superior to what an unprocessed 1080p image would look like on this screen, what I saw from well-produced HD source material was compelling.

2D Performance, 4K Sources
Sony provided us with a limited selection of server-based, true 4K material. The best of it included a trailer from next summer’s The Amazing Spider-Man and The Arrival—the latter a short, in-house documentary produced as a promotion for Sony’s new 4K pro digital camera. Both of these selections had a few issues regarding dynamic range and gamma—issues that likely originated not in the projector, which had proved its mettle in these respects with the upconverted HD material, but rather somewhere in the processing of the images as they made their way from the original source to the server.

Nevertheless, resolution is the main item of interest here, and the most obvious benefit I saw in the provided 4K material was how well it combined natural smoothness and detail—two qualities that are often seen as incompatible. Enhanced detail is usually what grabs our eyes first, and in that respect, the Sony certainly promises to deliver the right 4K stuff.

I did notice that 4K appeared to be fussier than standard HD about both the quality and length of the source-to-display HDMI cable. If you use an up-to-date, high-speed HDMI 1.4a cable compliant with 4K, you should be fine.

With sub-$10,000 projectors offering the sort of performance they do today, the high-end home theater market is reaching for new worlds to conquer. 4K projection appears to be the obvious answer, and the Sony VPL-VW1000ES delivers the goods—at least in 2D. As for 3D, stay tuned.

While the VPL-VW1000ES can upconvert today’s HD sources to 4K, there remains the matter of the true 4K program material needed to take maximum advantage of the projector’s capabilities. Although Hollywood has digitally released more than 70 movies in 4K theatrically to date, significant 4K video material doesn’t currently exist in the consumer video world, nor is any imminent. But Sony is the only consumer electronics manufacturer that owns a major motion picture studio with an extensive catalog of new and older titles. You can be certain that it’s taking the issue of consumer 4K source material seriously. The matter is being looked into by Top Men. Pardon the familiar Raiders of the Lost Ark reference, but this time I suspect the results of their work won’t end up in an obscure warehouse in the desert.

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turls's picture

Both me and my dealer are confused by this. I need to get this straight because of throw distance restrictions I have. Can you explain this a little more from the middle of page 2 of the article? What does using an anamorphic memory setting have to do with changing the minimum throw distance?

"Sony specifies the throw distance for the VPL-VW1000ES as 1.27 to 2.73; this is said to be reduced to 1.68 to 2.73 if you use the lensless anamorphic memory setting."

Rob Sabin's picture
Sony sent us a note to clarify and explain this. The company's Rob McDonough responds:

Picture Position Lens memory uses stored lens settings to quickly switch aspects and image sizes, such as between 16:9 and 2.35:1 sources. When calculating Throw Distances, if zoom is going to be used to make these image size changes, there must be sufficient zoom range left to work with. 16:9 images and throw distances must be able to zoom larger for 2.35:1, and 2.35:1 images and throw distances must be able to zoom smaller for 16:9. Thus, there needs to be an extra throw distance limit imposed to keep sufficient zoom range held in reserve.

For 16:9 screen data, the limit must reduce the TD range at the short end, and for 2.35:1 screen data, the limit must reduce the TD range at the long end of the zoom. The attached chart assumes use of a 2.35:1 screen, and therefore calculates sufficient reserve at the long end of the zoom.

The 1.68 limit quoted refers to 16:9 data when zooming larger to achieve 2.35:1, so it applies the limit at the short end. In practice, it usually makes more sense to calculate based on actual screen dimensions, usually the wider aspect, or larger image.

jlee949's picture

This is a LONG way down the road for the consumer market but I predict that 3D sound will be the next big thing in the industry.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

You might be right; see Tom Norton's blog about a new 3D sound system here:

rianlynch's picture

Personally, I expect 4k to be realized far sooner than most people currently suggest, even with the sluggish/bearish economy's dilatory effect on home media upgrades. TV's (recent at least) traditionally used 3 ~light cells (RGB) for each pixel (1920x1080 pixels); however, recent development of color filters allow for the transition to one of those light cells, effectively tripling the resolution available via tv technology already mass-produced. That means very little needs be engineered/accomplished to see 4k screens marketed at today's prices. Recording devices increasingly trend towards a more reasonable 4k price point, and the second projector is now available at 25k, down from 125k....I'm betting 3 years on the topside.

devidhoogs's picture

Nowadays technology is running as faster then wind. As a result electronic companies can invent some wonderful creation for us. In this post I've come to know about the Sony VPL-VW1000ES 4K SXRD Projector Settings. It is really a well invention. Thanks!!!

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cbetz's picture

3D sound integrated into all home theaters, I believe is on the way. We shall see when it arrives at the right price point. Just like with anything else technology related, there will be a tipping point @ a specific price. Just look at Home Automation costs in 2013, they are definitely becoming much more competitive..Home Automation is soon to be a baseline for homes over 300k.