Sony VPL-VW350ES 4K SXRD Projector Review Page 2

Other settings I tapped in the Sony’s Expert setting menu included BT. 709 color space and 2.2 gamma (the projector provides a wide range of gamma presets). High and low RGB custom color temperature adjustments are provided, and the Color Correction menu has hue, saturation, and brightness adjustments for primary and secondary colors.

415sonypro.rem.jpgSettings that I didn’t make use of, but you might, included x.v.Color (supports an enhanced color gamut for x.v.Color-encoded content) and Input Lag reduction, a feature aimed at gamers. Unfortunately, but not surprising at this point, unlike Sony’s flagship VPL-VW1100ES, the VPL-VW350ES will not support the wide DCI color gamut that seems to be the premium video quality target now for future Ultra HD content, including Ultra HD Blu-rays at some point. Similarly, the inputs only accept up to 8-bit 4:2:0 color, rather than the 10-bit content that might appear eventually. But it will accept 4K/60p signals, and the HDCP 2.2–compliant input means it’ll be compatible with 4K copy-protected Ultra HD discs and video streams going forward. (Unlike most Ultra HD smart TVs being released today, the projector does not have an onboard chip for HEVC decoding of such content; with no streaming platform on board, it’s not required, as that function will be handled by the attached source component.)

As expected, the projector’s Motionflow feature’s Smooth High and Smooth Low settings boosted motion resolution on test patterns, but at the cost of adding Soap Opera Effect (less noticeable in Smooth Low mode). The Impulse and True Cinema modes had no effect on motion resolution, while Combination boosted motion resolution without adding SOE.

The VPL-VW350ES’s fan was exceptionally quiet, especially with the Low lamp mode selected. I barely noticed fan noise even with the projector situated directly behind my seating position.

I started out my evaluation of the VPL-VW350ES by watching Blu-rays using Pioneer’s new BDP-88FD universal player, with the player first feeding the Sony straight 1080p and then upscaling the signal to 4K resolution. In Lucy, another over-the-top sci-fi concoction from French director Luc Besson, colors in the lobby of the swanky hotel where Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is forced to deliver a mysterious briefcase looked rich and sumptuous—in particular the main character’s red minidress. And when Lucy was next brought to the drug kingpin’s suite and made to open the suitcase at gunpoint, the texture of the wood-covered walls and her leopard-fur coat looked wonderfully distinct.

Comparing the Pioneer player’s 4K upscaling with the Sony’s, the Pioneer had a definite edge (for $2,000, it had better), though the VPL-VW350ES was also no slouch in the scaling department. Next, I turned to some content stored on Sony’s FMPX10 4K media player, including a few 4K episodes of Breaking Bad and a nature doc on California’s Redwood National Park. The picture looked smooth, clean, and detailed. I have to say, though, that watching that content from Sony’s media player had nothing on Lucy upscaled by the Pioneer, even when the image was displayed on an 80-inch-wide screen—which confirms a suspicion I’ve had for some time that a high-quality 2K source can make for compelling viewing on a 4K display.

I dove deeper into the 4K versus 2K issue and decided to compare a few specific scenes from The Amazing Spider-Man sourced as Ultra HD from the FMPX10 player and the same content on Blu-ray upscaled to Ultra HD by the Pioneer player. Viewed from an 8-foot distance, differences between the two were vanishingly small. However, when I paused the Sony 4K player on a shot of industrial supplies in Oscorp Industries’ lab and moved up to within 2 to 3 feet from the screen, I could clearly read a label stating, “Caution: This contains potentially hazardous materials.” At that distance, the same text in the image upscaled by the Pioneer was largely illegible. When I scooted back to my normal 8-foot viewing distance, however, the difference between the two was impossible to discern. The takeaway? That 4K does indeed look more detailed than 2K—but you need a damn big screen to appreciate it.

While the VPL-VW350ES’s measured contrast and black-level performance were well below those of the VPL-VW600ES, shadows still looked adequately deep with the projector set to its Cinema Film 1 mode. In another scene from Lucy where she escapes her captors and hijacks a taxi, the nighttime sky appeared as a solid shade of black. When I watched the same scene with the projector set to its calibrated Reference mode, however, deep shadows looked more of a dark gray.


3D Performance
Sony does not supply 3D glasses with the VPL-VW350ES, but the integrated RF emitter is compatible with Sony TDG-BT500A glasses ($50) or an equivalent. The projector’s 3D performance with Sony’s glasses was very good: Pictures looked solid, bright, and punchy (no surprise given the VPL-VW350ES’s above-average brightness), and there were only a few instances where I spotted crosstalk. 3D depth was also impressive. When I watched a scene from Pacific Rim where Raleigh Becket walks across a beam on a wall being constructed to block out Kaiju, the grid of crisscrossed beams in the distance appeared to extend deep into the screen. Sony’s optional glasses were also lightweight and comfortable, so no complaints there.

At $5,000 less than Sony’s next-least-expensive 4K projector, the VPL-VW350ES is a seriously good value. Properly set up, it delivers a stunning picture, with accurate color, good contrast (despite its lack of a dynamic or manual iris control), and brightness to spare. Plus it comes with most of the amenities you’d expect from a high-end projector, including motorized focus/zoom adjustments and lens shift. If you’re considering scaling up to a screen size that will make an extra investment in 4K worth it, the VPL-VW350ES is worth your consideration.


CherylGilmoure's picture

This is one of my favorite. I like the design and what's more important the quality since our students often complete presentations like the one at

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