Sony 4K projector review

The Sony VPL-VW1000ES projector brings 4K to the home for the first time

Reasons to buy
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    Astonishing 4K video quality

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    Great upscaling of Full HD

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    immersive 3D

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    No native 4K movie content

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    Stratospheric price tag

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    No digital still card reader

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Offering four times the resolution of Full HD, the Sony VPL-VW1000ES projector brings the clarity of 4K digital cinema to the home for the first time

With the Sony VPL-VW1000ES 4K projector, the Japanese brand has taken the concept of domestic cinema and quadrupled it. Offering a resolution of 4096 x 2160, this is the first consumer projector able to rival the clarity of cutting edge digital cinemas.

Granted it's eye-wateringly expensive and hampered by a lack of software, but then the Quad HD revolution has to start somewhere, right?

Borrowing heavily from Sony's professional digital cinema fleet, the VW1000ES features best-in-class optics and newly developed SRXD panels able to throw an 8 million pixel image across 300-odd inches of screen. It's only 4k competitor is the Toshiba 55ZL2 TV.

Sony VPL-VW1000ES: Features

As befits its sophistication, the VW100ES offers a wealth of functionality. There are copious image presets available for different content, as well as remote controlled zoom, focus and lens shifting.

While a 3D sync emitter is built into the bodywork, you can extend its reach with a hard-wired booster if you need to blanket a bigger theatre. Key to the projector's success is the Reality Creation upscaler, which takes any incoming source (even lowly DVD) and outputs it at 4K.

Sony VPL-VW1000ES: Design

As you might expect from quasi-commercial kit, this 20kg beast isn't exactly compact. 520mm wide and stretching back 640mm, it requires a fair amount of ceiling space; hot air is vented from the rear. That said, it's a beautiful product: the chassis is finished in a non-reflective matt black and the central lens encircled by distinctive ribs. The lens itself is protected by a motorised shutter.

Sony VPL-VW1000ES: Specs

At 2,000 ANSI-lumens this thing is bright. With four times the number of pixels it obviously has to work harder to compete with Full HD models, but the 330w UHP lamp is a light cannon.

Inputs include two HDMIs, component and PC VGA. There are also remote control options for the custom crowd and an Ethernet port. The latter isn't to access network video, but allows adjustments to be made via a web browser

Sony VPL-VW1000ES: Performance

Our sample was auditioned with both native 4K content and Blu-ray. The former was delivered from a PC equipped with AMD's Radeon HD7970, the only graphics card capable of outputting 4k video at 24fps. Native 4k material looks staggeringly good. There's a smoothness and depth to images that eclipses Full HD.

4K draws you to the screen like a magnet, constantly rewarding you with hidden detail and texture. However, with no 4K content commercially available, the crux of its appeal hangs on how well it upscales Blu-ray.

Of course this projector doesn't add detail to BD, but what it does do is increase pixel density and use powerful processing to massage contrast and image delineation. The results are often breathtaking.

Naturally, the VPL-VW1000ES is 3D capable, and two pairs of active shutter glasses are included in the box. Upscaled 3D Blu-ray looks tremendous, with crosstalk rendered inconsequential. A stereoscopic trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man practically induced vertigo.

Sony VPL-VW1000ES: Verdict

With this revolutionary projector, Sony offers a glimpse of the (video) world of tomorrow. Even with caveats about 4K content (you can't buy any) and that withering price tag (you can't afford it), the significance of its performance can't be denied.

Those with high-end home cinemas should start planning for an upgrade, the rest of us will just have to wait impatiently for the tech to tickle down the ranks.

The VPL-VW1000ES is a state of the art 4K cinema projector for the home. You almost certainly don't need it, but that doesn't mean you won't want it. Welcome to the future.

Sony VPL-VW1000ES availability: Available now

Sony VPL-VW1000ES price: £16,799

Steve May

For over 25 years, Steve has been casting his keen eyes and ears over the best that the world of TV and audio has to offer. He was the creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, and contributes to huge range of technology, home and music titles along with T3, including TechRadar, Louder, Ideal Home, the i newspaper, and more.