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Sony 4K HDR Home Theater video projector review – how to play game?

Sony 4K HDR Home Theater video projector review
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Should you invest in Sony 4K HDR Home Theater video projector? They come with All-Range Crisp Focus (ARC-F) lens, 2,200 lumens Z-Phosphor laser light source, X1™ for projector, 4K Motionflow to reduce blur and Dynamic HDR Enhancer technology. Its advanced SXRD™ (Silicon X-tal Reflective Display) panel technology featured in Sony’s home-theater projectors delivers native 4K-resolution (4096 x 2160) images with 8.8 million pixels for an incredibly lifelike picture. SXRD projection offers rich, inky blacks as well as clear cinematic motion and image smoothness. Get more in Sony 4K HDR Home Theater video projector review.

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Pros & Cons – Sony 4K HDR Home Theater video projector

Pros

  • Native 4K resolution (4096×2160)
  • Outstanding ARC-F lens delivers amazing clarity 
  • Laser Light Engine
  • Frame by Frame Tone Mapping to optimize HDR10 viewing
  • Compatible with HDR10 and HLG
  • Excellent 4K upscaling
  • Retains most of its rated brightness even after calibration 
  • Superb black levels
  • 20,000 Hour Lamp Life ((High Lamp Power)
  • Great “out of the box” picture 
  • Dual 4K HDCP 2.2 (18Gbps) HDMI inputs
  • Excellent placement flexibility with motorized lens features, including:
    • 2.10:1 zoom lens (Bundled VPLL-Z7013 Lens)
    • Lots of lens shift (vertical and horizontal) 
    • Optional short-throw ARC-F lens available (VPLL-Z7008)
  • Low input lag – claimed 27ms on 4K (37ms measured @1080p)
  • 3-year parts/labor warranty 

Cons

  • More lumens would be better, especially for HDR
  • Premium Price maybe out of the reach of many customers
  • Not the best black levels (but close, very close)
  • The remote control would benefit from a brighter backlight
  • Larger and heavier than many home theater projectors

Specs – Sony 4K HDR Home Theater video projector

  • Technology SXRD (3)
  • Native Resolution 4,096 x 2,160
  • Zoom Lens Ratio 2.10:1 (Bundled VPLL-Z7013 Lens)
  • Lens Shift Yes
  • Brightness (Manufacturer Claim) 2200
  • Z-Phosphor Laser Light Source
  • Technology: SXRD panels (LCoS)
  • Lamp Life 20,000 hours
  • Weight 49 lbs
  • Bundle with a Sony ARC-F Lens (optional Short throw version available)
  • Contrast: ∞ (infinity): Dynamic
  • HDR10/HLG compatible
  • Frame and Frame HDR Auto Tone Mapping
  • Two 18Gbps HDMI/HDCP 2.2 compatible inputs
  • Power Lens Focus/Shift/Zoom: Yes

Sony 4K HDR Home Theater video projector Price

There are five laser-based 4K HDR models in the lineup, including the VW1025ES ($40,000 SRP) and two 4K HDR home theater lamp-based projectors, the VW715ES ($10,000 SRP) and the newly announced VW325ES ($5500 SRP).

Below is a summary of the Sony 4K SXRD Laser projector lineup.


Sony Model
Price (SRP)Brightness Light SourceLensProcessorDynamic HDR Enhancer
GTZ380$80,000 (w/o lens)10,000 lmZ-PhosphorARC-FX1 UltimateYes
VW5000ES$60,0005,000 lmZ-PhosphorARC-F  
VW1025ES$40,0002,200 lmZ-PhosphorARC-FX1Yes
VZ1000ES$25,0002,500 lmZ-PhosphorUltra Short Throw  
VW915ES$19,999,992,000 lmZ-PhosphorStandard 4K LensX1Yes
VW715ES$9,999.991,800 lmLampStandard 4K LensX1Yes
VW325ES NEW$5,5001,500 lmLampStandard 4K LensX1Yes

Compare Sony 4K HDR Home Theater video projector

VW1025ESVW915ESVW715ESVW325ES
Light Output2200lm2000lm1800lm1500lm
White Color Option✖️✖️✔️✔️
Light SourceZ-Phosphor LaserZ-Phosphor LaserLampLamp
LensARC-FStandard 4KStandard 4KStandard 4K
Resolution4K4K4K4K
X1 Picture Engine✔️✔️✔️✔️
Super Resolution✔️✔️✔️✔️
Dynamic HDR Enhancer✔️✔️✔️✔️
Digital Focus Optimizer✔️✔️✔️✖️
Dual Contrast Control✔️✔️✖️✖️
Advanced Iris Control✔️✔️✔️✖️
4K Motion Flow✔️✔️✔️✔️
Lens Memory for 16:9 to Widescreen✔️✔️✔️✖️
Input Lag Reduction✔️✔️✔️✔️

Sony 4K HDR Home Theater video projector review

Design

The chassis measures approximately 22 inches wide, 8 ¾” high x 19 ½” deep, and weighs about 49 pounds. The unit is much larger and heavier than most DLP-based home theater projectors. The larger chassis is worth it for the benefit of better black levels, a motorized lens with horizontal/vertical shift, and quieter operation.

Lens

It adds a Z-Phosphor Laser Light source with a Dynamic Iris which is paired with an ARC-F Lens assembly. Like all Sony 4K HDR home theater projectors, the VW1025ES uses three SXRD panels to deliver true 4K resolution (4096 x 2160). The unit’s ultra-high quality lens assembly ensures that every ounce of detail reaches the screen. the difference in sharpness Is dramatic. When viewed through the unit’s ARC-F lens, things just seem clearer – richer, more real. It is like looking through an open window. 

Ports

When looking at the projector from the front, the inputs are on the lower left side while the small control panel is on the right side of the chassis. The VW1025ES also has dual 18Gbps HDMI inputs, which is more than enough bandwidth to support [email protected] HDR with 10bit color. The power connection is located on the back of the projector on the lower right side. 

Display

Below are the minimum and maximum throw distances for a variety of screen sizes.

VPLL-Z7013 Throw Distance for a 16:9 (1.78:1) Screen

Screen Size (Diagonal)Min Screen Distance (in)Max Screen Distance (in)
80”93 (2350 mm)202 (5150 mm)
100”117 (2960 mm)254 (6460 mm)
120”141 (3560 mm)305 (7770 mm)
150”176 (4470 mm)383 (9730 mm)
200”236 (5990 mm)511 (13000 mm)

VPLL-Z7013 Throw Distance for a 2.35:1 Screen

Screen Size (Diagonal)Min Screen Distance (in)Max Screen Distance (in)
80”92 (2330 mm)200 (5100 mm)
100”116 (2930 mm)251 (6390 mm)
120”139 (3530 mm)302 (7690 mm)
150”175 (4430 mm)379 (9630 mm)
200”234 (5930 mm)506 (12860 mm)

X1 processor

the most significant Sony 4K HDR Home Theater video projector upgrade is new video processing powered by a version of Sony’s X1 Processor that has been optimized specifically for projector applications. This Processor is what gives the projector the ability to do frame-by-frame HDR tone mapping. The VW1025ES supports both the HDR10 standard as well as HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma). This three chip 4K SXRD imaging system is very similar to what is utilized in Sony 4K cinema projectors that are found in the best movie theaters in the world.

Resolution

Like all Sony 4K HDR home theater projectors, the VW1025ES uses three SXRD panels to deliver true 4K resolution (4096 x 2160). The unit’s ultra-high quality lens assembly ensures that every ounce of detail reaches the screen. This X1 robust Processor is able to analyze HD, 4K, and HDR content frame-by-frame to further enhance detail, colors, and black level. 

Brightness

The VW1025ES measured 2112 lumens which is close to Sony’s rated brightness of 2200 lumens. You will find the VW1025ES more than bright enough for viewing SDR content on a 180” screen or HDR content on a 150” screen in a dark room. The VW1025ES has a rated brightness of 2,200 ANSI lumens and the unit’s Z-Phospher laser light source has a rated life of 20,000 hours. 

Picture Mode Brightness (default laser power settings)

Color ModeLumens Color Temperature
Cinema Film 117406682K
Cinema Film 216356551K
Reference17756536K
TV176510018K
Photo16325533K
Game15936529K
Bright Cinema20527683K
Bright TV210710198K
User17786531K
Reference Mode (calibrated)17106525K

Aspect ratio & Lens shift

 the VW102ES has several Aspect modes, including V Stretch and Squeeze, which can properly display both widescreen and 16×9 content on a 2.35:1 screen.

When projecting a 100″ diagonal 16:9 image, 80% of the image height is approximately 39 inches. This means the bottom of the projected image can be shifted down 39”. While +/- 31% horizontal shift means you can shift 100” image to the left or right about 27 inches. Just remember, like most projectors, the more horizontal shift you use, the less vertical adjustment you will have available.

Having a large amount of zoom and shift capability makes installation a breeze, especially when you are trying to replace an older unit that was previously fixed mounted.

HDR10 content

Sony 4K HDR Home Theater video projectors compatible with both HDR10 and HLG content. Since most HDR10+ and Dolby Vision content is either backward compatible with or available in HDR10, you will be able to watch most of the HDR content available on 4K Blu-ray Disc and streaming services. HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) was developed for live broadcast, so you are all set to enjoy sports and award shows when the networks start broadcasting.

Support 3D games

Sony quotes 27ms input lag with 4K content (up to 60fps). According to Sony, with 1080p games input lag will be a bit longer due to the need to upscale HD to the projector’s native resolution, but it is still in the 33-40ms range. We measured 4K/60p at 28ms and 1080/60p at 36ms, which is a good performance for most gamers. 

Unlike most flat panel TVs,  Sony home theater projectors like the VW1025ES still support 3D. The projector’s built-in RF transmitter is compatible with third-party Active RF 3D glasses for wider coverage and greater stability. 

Lamp life

If you watched the VW915ES for 8 hours a day, five days a week, the laser light engine would last about a decade. By the time you would need to replace light source in this unit there will probably be new 8K projectors available.

How to use

For extra brightness and to combat higher ambient light, you can switch to BRIGHT TV or BRIGHT CINEMA. These picture modes are slightly oversaturated with a cooler color temperature, but it may be worth it to cut through a lot of ambient light.

What is the best Sony 4K HDR Home Theater video projector?

Sony VPL-VW1025ES 4K HDR Home Theater video projector

Take all of the great features you’ll find in the VW915 and complement them with the lens from their $88,000 top-of-the-line projector that is optimized for the internal laser light engine and you have the VPL-VW1025ES.

From a feature standpoint, it is identical to the VW915, but boy, what a difference that lens makes!

If you understand camera lenses, you know their importance and how the great ones can be quite costly, but the picture speaks for itself. The VW1025 uses an all-glass, large-aperture ARC-F lens with 18 elements that include 6 extra low-dispersion elements. The end result is the perfect convergence of red, green, and blue on every part of the screen for an image that is incredibly clear and vivid.

The VLP-VW1025ES boasts 2200lm output which opens up even larger widescreen sizes for the serious home theater. Like the VW915, the VW1025 comes in black only.

Sony VPL-VW715ES 4K HDR Home Theater video projector

Sony also adds their Digital Focus Optimizer to the VPL-VW715ES. All round lenses have a tiny bit more distortion as you near the edge of the lens. Sony uses digital technology to keep the picture on the outer edges of your screen just as crisp as those in the dead center.

This model uses a conventional lamp-based system for the light engine and is capable of about 1800lm.. Sony adds two more features that give the VW715 some pretty big advantages over the VW325. Sitting in between the lamp and the lens is an advanced Iris system that works in conjunction with the X1 processor and its Dynamic HDR Enhancer. The Iris can change the amount of light output to optimize both HDR and SDR content for better contrast, especially in darker scenes.

We see the VW715ES as one heck of a great value. With all of its great picture technology and the ability to do full widescreen, it will probably be the best-selling model in the Sony projector lineup this year.

As more projectors go into living rooms, Sony decided to add a white finish option for the VW715ES this year along with their traditional black finish.

Sony VPL-VW325ES 4K HDR Home Theater video projector

This projector is the first Sony model with full 4K capability. It is a lamp-based system with 1500lm.

We feel in a light-controlled room, with a high-quality screen having a gain of around 1.3, you should be able to do up to a 150” diagonal 16:9 screen and have a good image. Of course, you will have more pop to the image on a smaller screen with 100-120” being ideal for HDR content.

To see a 4K movie on a large 16:9 screen is just a totally different experience than watching it on an 85” flat panel. With the VW325ES, you get all of the great new Sony HDR picture enhancements for a very reasonable price.

While the VW325 does not support widescreen out of the box, it does have the technology built-in for an add-on external lens to provide you with a great 2.40 image should you decide to upgrade in the future, which gives you some nice option value.

Your streaming content that is not in 4K will be upscaled to a glorious 4K level with the VPL-VW325 using the exact same video processor found in the 40K top-of-the-line model in the new series. It is easy to see why we think the VW325 is just a super value for a small to mid-sized 16:9 based theater. You will also have an option of a black or white finish on the VW325 4K projector.

Sony VPL-VW915ES 4K HDR Home Theater video projector

If you remember the original Austin Powers, you may remember the “fire the lasers” scene. At Audio Advice, we are huge fans of laser-based front projectors. There is just something about the color produced by a 4K laser projector that looks more like real life.

With the laser engine, Sony uses what they call a Dual Contrast Control to work with the Dynamic HDR Enhancer for better contrast. This has the same Advanced Iris in the VW715ES coupled with their Laser Control system. The two of these working together give you an even wider dynamic range. When you move to the VW915 you also get more adjustments for motion flow than in the lower models.

You also gain the advantage of a light engine that can give you a great picture for close to 20,000 hours vs the typical lamp based projector that needs a new lamp every 1,500-1,800 hours. As you might have guessed, the VLP-VW915ES uses a laser phosphor light engine. The VW915ESproduces more light output than the VW715ESwith a spec of 2,000lm.

Another great feature about a laser and Sony’s new menu system is you can assign a different laser output value for SDR and HDR content. On many screens, you may not need to use full laser power on SDR but could use it for HDR. These adjustments are found under Cinema Black Pro where you can have different settings for Dynamic Control, Laser Light Output, and the Sony Contrast Enhancer system, super neat!

The VW915ES also has the digital focus optimizer for an even sharper focused picture.

Sony saw the VW915ES being used in dedicated home theater rooms, so black is the only color choice.

We can’t say enough how much we love the picture coming from a laser light engine. While close to $20,000 is by no means a bargain, with all of the new techs Sony has packed into the VPL-VW915ES it really is a great value. Nothing on the market we know of has a laser engine, Sony’s great processing system for both HDR and SDR, with lens memory for widescreen and their impressive SXRD 4K panels and 2000lm output to boot!

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