Native 4K SXRD Home Theater Projector
January 15, 2014
Picture quality. While the VW600ES is chock full of features, the primary reason to buy the projector is for the stellar image quality. The VW600ES is a videophile's dream, rendering every image in bright, pixel-free Ultra HD. Actual 4K content does look great, but the VW600ES does not need native-resolution material to produce an impressive picture.
MotionFlow. The VW600ES includes MotionFlow, Sony's frame interpolation system. MotionFlow contains a number of different presets. Smooth High and Smooth Low were the most aggressive settings. Smooth High removes all traces of judder while adding significant edge enhancement and digital video effect, while Smooth Low is a milder version. Impulse reduces but does not remove judder without adding edge enhancement or digital video effect. Our favorite mode for film and video is called Combination; it reduces judder more than Impulse but less than the Smooth modes without adding digital video effect. We did notice during testing that Combination and Impulse both reduce light output by 25% to 30%, so consider using a different mode or disabling MotionFlow entirely if your installation requires maximum brightness from the projector.
Reality Creation. Sony's answer to Panasonic's Detail Clarity and Epson's Super Resolution is Reality Creation, a detail enhancement system. Reality Creation improves the appearance of fine detail and is adjustable based on your own tastes. The Reality Creation system includes a useful on/off Demo feature that will show you what the picture looks like with and without your adjustments, in A/B format. The two pictures flash back and forth until you press Enter to stop the demonstration.
Reality Creation has two sliders for adjustment. The first slider controls how much enhancement is applied to the image. The second adjust the signal to noise ratio -- in essence, it tells the detail enhancement system where to draw the line between real detail and digital noise.
Full 3D. While the primary draw of the VW600ES is its crisp, clean 4K image, it can also process full HD 3D sources over HDMI as well as any 1080p projector. This includes 3D content from Blu-ray disc as well as satellite and cable set-top boxes. Like all content, 3D movies are up-converted to 4K before display. If and when 4K 3D movies arrive, the VW600ES should have no trouble displaying them.
The VW600ES uses radio-frequency (RF) synchronization for its 3D glasses and has an internal emitter. Unlike infrared (IR) glasses, RF glasses do not require a signal in the same range as a projector's remote control. As a result, you will not find it any more difficult to use the VW600's remote control while watching 3D content. They also do not lose synchronization if you break line of sight with the projector or screen, On the downside, RF glasses are more susceptible to having the battery run down unless you remember to turn off the projector or switch out of 3D mode when you are not actively using it. Since the VW600's glasses are not rechargeable, this can be a concern for heavy 3D users.
The glasses themselves are feather-light and the arms are very flexible, which is useful when you have a larger-than-average head. The nosepiece is removable, so users with prescription glasses can take it out to reduce the distance between their real glasses and the 3D glasses. The glasses use CR2025 button-style batteries which replace through a small access tray in the nose bridge. Replacing the batteries is simple and only takes a few seconds.
As far as 3D picture quality is concerned, the VW600ES does just as well with HD 3D content as it does with the two-dimensional variety. Detail is razor-sharp after up-conversion, and the projector shows very little crosstalk or jitter even at the default High brightness setting.
Dropping 3D brightness to Normal from the default High removes any trace of crosstalk, but crosstalk is mild enough with brightness at High that we do not recommend the switch unless you are exceptionally sensitive to the artifact.
Auto/manual iris. The VW600's iris system is quite flexible. The iris has only two controls. The first, labeled Dynamic, can be set to Full, Limited, or Off. The second, labeled Brightness, can be set between 0 and 100. With Dynamic set to Limited, the Brightness control will only allow the automatic iris to open partially, effectively limiting the projector's maximum light output while still giving you the black-boosting benefits of an automatic iris system. With Dynamic set to Off, the iris reverts to full manual control. In other words, using these two controls, you can use the iris system as a full dynamic iris (Dynamic: Full, Brightness: n/a), a limited dynamic iris (Dynamic: Limited, Brightness: 0-100), or a manual iris (Dynamic: Off, Brightness: 0-100). This is perfect for those with excellent light control and/or smaller screen sizes who do not need the projector's full light output.
This has a side benefit as well. As a projector's lamp ages it loses brightness. By using the Limited dynamic iris function, you can limit the projector's brightness at the beginning of a lamp's lifetime, then gradually allow more light to pass as the lamp ages, effectively stabilizing light output over the life of your lamp.
Picture Position. If you are a fan of the 2.4:1 CinemaScope screen format, you'll love the VW600's Picture Position system. This feature stores up to five combinations of lens settings (including focus, zoom, lens shift) and aspect ratio and stores them in memory banks. The most practical application of this is in 2.4:1 screen format home theater without an anamorphic lens. It works like this: you set up the VW600ES on a 2.4:1 screen, then save settings for 1.85:1 movies in one memory location and a zoomed-in setting for 2.4:1 movies in another setting. When you want to switch between them, it takes three button presses instead of ten minutes of adjustment.
Low fan noise. The VW600ES is a very quiet projector. High lamp mode produces a low rush of air that is nonetheless quieter than many other home theater projectors, while Low lamp mode is as close to silent as a running projector can get. Either way, you won't hear audible noise from the VW600ES unless you're sitting right next to it.
Panel alignment. Proper panel alignment in three-chip light engines is critical, and that goes double for a 4K projector. The VW600ES has an electronic panel alignment system to help correct small errors in convergence without sending the projector back to Sony for warranty service. The panel alignment system is capable of both global adjustments, in which the entire panel is shifted, or zone-by-zone adjustments, in which a small section of the screen is tweaked. Since it's an electronic system, the panel is not physically moved, and all changes are easily reversible.