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Sony VPL-VW600ES Projector Sony VPL-VW600ES
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200000:1 Contrast Ratio
1700 Lumens
Full HD 3D
$11,444 Street Price
$14,999 MSRP

Sony VPL-VW600ES
Native 4K SXRD Home Theater Projector

Bill Livolsi, January 15, 2014

Performance

Light output. The Sony VW600ES is a bright projector that's perfect for a big screen. In its brightest calibrated theater mode, we measured 1325 lumens on our test unit. This mode (Cinema Film 1, high lamp power, wide lens angle) also produces accurate, highly saturated color and a while balance that is within 100 degrees Kelvin of the desired 6500K across the grayscale.

Cinema Film 2 is similar to CF1, but it uses the Dynamic Limited setting for the automatic iris with a Brightness of 70 to reduce maximum light output to 860 lumens. If you switch the iris to Dynamic Full or increase Brightness to 100, CF2 and CF1 become identical.

Reference mode, at 1227 lumens, is designed to reproduce the Rec. 709 color standard exactly, and it does an excellent job. It does not have the same levels of color saturation as CF1 and CF2 modes, nor does it have the same extreme contrast, so it tends to appear flatter than the two aforementioned image modes. But it is quite accurate, and just about perfect if you are looking for a reference mode.

TV mode, at 1116 lumens, has a bluish tint that brings color temperature to around 7200K. This tint is not unpleasant when watching television and other video content, but it is also not difficult to calibrate TV back to 6500K if you want to.

Game mode, at 1350 lumens, is slightly brighter than Cinema Film 1, but not enough for the difference to be meaningful. Game mode is very bright, has a blue tint, is comparatively lower in contrast, and does not offer any benefits to input lag (some Game modes in other projectors and televisions automatically activate faster processing, but that is not the case here).

Bright Cinema, despite its name, is not actually brighter than Cinema Film 1. Instead, at 1239 lumens, it offers a picture with more open mid-tones and less dramatic gamma, as does its counterpart Bright TV at 1269 lumens.

In any of these image modes, Low lamp mode reduces light output by 28%. Since the VW600ES produces over 1,000 lumens in all of its image modes save CF2, Low lamp can help to reduce light output for smaller screens.

All of our measurements were conducted with the VW600's zoom lens at its maximum wide angle setting, where it passes the most light through to the screen. However, in real-world use, most people end up using at least some portion of the zoom lens and incurring some light loss. The VW600's lens loses up to 30% of its light output as it travels from wide angle to telephoto zoom, and the loss is approximately linear across the lens' zoom range. In other words, if you use the mid-point of the projector's zoom, you will lose about 15% of the maximum potential light output. This is due to the optical properties of zoom lenses in general and is not unique to the VW600.

Contrast. The VW600ES has some of the best contrast performance we have seen on any home theater projector to date. The projector has a black level that is unparalleled. This is due in no small part to the projector's fantastic iris system, which smoothly and silently adjusts to any change in light level without causing any distraction to the viewer.

Dynamic range is set such that there is no clipping of highlight or shadow detail and mid-tones are preserved perfectly while giving the image the sort of three-dimensional pop that is usually reserved for actual 3D.

The VW600ES has several features that alter contrast and dynamic range. The first of these, Contrast Enhance, raises the cut-off point for black. This is actually not desirable most of the time, because the VW600ES is more than capable of rendering deep shadow detail. The second, Smooth Gradation, improves the projector's handling of gradients and eliminates any instances of color banding. We prefer to leave this control on Low or Medium, as the Off setting does show some color banding on a standard gray ramp pattern.

Color. The VW600's color performance is superb, even straight out of the box, with a color gamut that closely matches the Rec. 709 standard and good saturation that is not overpowered. White balance is very near the 6500K ideal even before adjustment, and some gentle fine-tuning brings the projector exactly in line with the published standards. Your installer will likely calibrate the projector for you, but even before calibration it is a treat to watch.

The VW600ES has a feature labeled "Clear White" which pushes the color temperature of 100% white towards blue. This has the effect of making white appear "whiter," but it is less accurate, so we left it disabled.

Sharpness and Clarity. The key selling point of the projector, its 4K resolution, gives it a level of detail clarity that 1080p projectors cannot match. This is evident in all types of content, from standard definition DVD up through Blu-ray and native 4K material.

Input lag. The VW600's beautiful picture requires some hefty image processing, and that processing does have a downside. The VW600ES measured 120 milliseconds of input lag in all image modes, or a touch over seven frames of a 60 fps signal. This makes it too slow for gaming, at least when non-native sources are used. This 120ms lag was not affected by MotionFlow, Reality Creation, or any of the VW600's other optional processing circuits.

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Review Contents: The Viewing Experience Setup and Configuration Key Features Performance
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Reader Comments(18 comments)

Posted Aug 11, 2014 1:36:53 PM

By Tim

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You common folk appreciate this projector, but I demand more. I want 4k driven by separate RGB channels with LED sources, each modulated by a DLP mirror (3x4k). No color wheels, no rainbows, no LCD blanking. For $800, please. Thanks!

Posted Jul 22, 2014 4:13:07 AM

By Uzzal

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You guys please lower the price of 4k projectors so that we can buy it.

Posted Jul 14, 2014 11:58:12 AM

By UHDGuru

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mmm...when reading this..why pay for future equipment,and with this- pay and support development? 4K = 720p (and 6K) 8K = 1080p 8K Will be standard. problem solved.

Posted Apr 1, 2014 7:34:22 PM

By Doug

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Regarding 20/20. The optician's test image is a Snellen eye chart. At 20/20 the letter "E" has bars 1 arcminute thick and the two gaps between the 3 bars are also 1 arcminute (5 arcminute high total). Also the contrast is good and the background is 100 foot lamberts (i.e. brighter than typical for video projected images and TVs which gives the eye better acuity). However there is more to the story.

First, if the resizing is a weighted blending of the original pixels (bi-linear interpolation), then letters of a 20/20 eye chart would have fuzzy edges (if the displayed pixel overlapped half a dark original pixel and half a light pixel, then the bilinear interpolated output pixel would be gray). Thus 4K resolution projection would suffer only half the degradation that a 2K projector would suffer. In other words, the letters of a 20/100 resolution eye chart will be a little sharper but for the highest displayable resolution eye chart it will be a lot sharper.

Second, the eye has much higher vernier resolution and can discern if a line has a 12 arcsecond step displacement. That means the eye is very sensitive to aliasing artifacts. A 4K display would inherently have only half the angular magnitude line displacement of a 2K display. (Although line displacements will be less, they can still be visible since the displayed pixels are still larger than 12 arcseconds. Antialiasing algorithms hide these artifacts but somewhat blur the image. On a pixel basis, double display resolution allows these artifacts to be hidden with antialiasing pixel processing that is only half as blurry.

Third, if the resolution is twice as high, then motion blurring is twice as noticeable. Thus, if your eye gaze follows numbers across the screen (e.g. football jersey or stock market data scrolling across or film credits scrolling down), then the eye is blurring twice as many pixels together. This means at 4k, 240 Hz motion blur reduction is required to attain the same affect as 120 Hz MBR at 2K resolution. The good news is this is only a fair comparison when the numbers on the 4K display are half the angular size as on the 2K display and you are expecting to see them equally well. If both projectors display the same image of a moving 20/40 Snellen eye chart, then of course the high resolution projector will suffer motion blur no more than the 2K projector even when both are MBR at 120 HZ. However do not expect to then switch the 4K projector video to a 20/20 Eye chart moving at the same angular rate across the screen with the same clarity as the 20/40 video on the 2K projector unless you also run the 4K projector at double the motion blur reduction rate. On a 4K display, when motion blur occurs, the temporary resolution degradation is much more noticeable.

Posted Mar 20, 2014 5:52:53 AM

By Tom Collins

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This makes it too slow for gaming, at least when non-native sources are used.

was wondering what the input lag would be with a native 4k signal from a extremely high end PC?

Posted Mar 17, 2014 11:30:49 AM

By Ebase131

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That 120 ms input lag is a deal-breaker. Very disappointing that even in game mode it is still that bad. Makes the projector unplayable and strictly a movie/TV watcher which is not how I would want something that costs $15k to function.

Posted Jan 29, 2014 7:29:08 AM

By Jim Terry

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Will you be testing the Sony VPL-VW1100ES projector? I can find very little information on this projector except from Sony itself.

Posted Jan 27, 2014 4:12:28 PM

By Reuben Ahmed

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$15000 MSRP is not a bad price. If the street price is lower, for an early adopter whose main hobby is projection technology - it is doable. I would consider this technology if it can be had for under 10K.

Posted Jan 25, 2014 11:41:39 AM

By Edlantis

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What is the range on the zoom lens (range of throw ratios)?

Posted Jan 21, 2014 7:32:12 AM

By Vlad

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"Game mode is very bright, has a blue tint, is comparatively lower in contrast, and does not offer any benefits to input lag"

It's a pity! Game mode almost useless due to input lag.

Posted Jan 18, 2014 9:36:36 PM

By Frank

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No idea how the Runco came into the picture here, based on its description (HD rez, single chip DLP, color wheel, etc), it seems to be priced about $11,500 too much.

Posted Jan 18, 2014 9:23:30 PM

By Stunko

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Wow, where to begin?

Ceilings mounts are NOT considered "professional" as far as installations go. Having the PJ behind the rear wall in a separate booth is considered much more professional. Particularly in a dedicated screening room.

No idea why this particular Sony PJ would need any more of a professional installer installation than any other HTPJ. I mean, it is just a 1700 ANSI lumen HTPJ, folks.

And that brings me to the nitty-gritty of it: fifteen-thousand dollars -- for this? Nay.... check back in 2-3-4 years time, prices by then will be under $4,000, for sure. With other players in the game, not just mega-Sony. For now, the ticket is with the 4K UHD TV, now that prices have dropped below the $1,000 mark on some of them. Great review, though, the shape of things to come, surely.

Posted Jan 17, 2014 1:15:53 PM

By Derrick

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Great review. I gave up on watching the 4K content from the media server as it's too expensive ($30 or more for some stuff)but mainly because Bluray movies look fantastic and so do the NFL night games. Day games are ok but the night games are great. It was nice to read about all the various features and how each feature changes the projector/picture as the manual is lacking in this area. Also, you did a great job explaining eye sight/vision. Your the only reviewer to do this other then my eye doc. My vision was 20/10 until recently and then it changed to 20/25 over a few years. The eye doc got my vision corrected back to 20/10. The difference is very noticeable from 18' on the 133" screen, and now I understand (somewhat) the reason. This projector is a game changer and it will be interesting to see how other manufactures react as the current street price of the projector is under 11K; still a lot of money but this projector has only been out a few months. Great review.

Posted Jan 16, 2014 1:41:49 PM

By Foxman

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Thank you for your response. It is evident I need a refresher course on upscaling. I also need to go back and see if my 5-year-old home theater system is calibrated correctly!

Posted Jan 16, 2014 9:55:17 AM

By kevin prouten

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It contains every major advancement in home theater projector technology made since the advent of high definition

with the exception of a long lasting led / laser light source !!!!

Posted Jan 16, 2014 9:29:53 AM

By Bill Livolsi

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Foxman - it appears we've crossed a wire somewhere. When you're talking about digital projectors, all non-native signals need to be scaled to fit the native resolution of the projector. We experimented with scaling by setting our Oppo BDP-103 to output 4K, then switching it to output 480p (thereby allowing the VW600ES to handle its own scaling). In the past, projectors did not have the greatest upscaling capabilities, so it was frequently beneficial to add either an upscaling DVD player or a separate video processor. The VW600ES has excellent internal scaling that is variously on par with or superior to the scaling in the Oppo BDP-103, which is itself top notch.

Reality Creation, on the other hand, is not upscaling. Reality Creation is a detail enhancement system similar to Panasonic's Detail Clarity or Epson's Super Resolution. It makes the picture appear sharper, clearer, and higher in detail. You can apply Reality Creation to the picture regardless of where the scaling is performed.

Posted Jan 16, 2014 8:07:05 AM

By Foxman

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A great review! I am surprised about the upscaling quality of standard DVD material with this projector. I would have thought the higher resolution would have made DVDs look even worse. Could you please explain your comment about the projector upscaling nearly as well as your Oppo Blu-ray player? Were you going back and forth with the Oppo's enhancements on and the Sony's Reality Creation off and then vice versa? I have often wondered what determines the best quality from a standard DVD...the projector or the player. To take it a step further, what would happen if you ran a standard DVD source through the Oppo and the Sony with the enhancements and Reality Creation both on? Would the clarity improve even further, or would it reach a point of overkill? Thanks in advance for your response.

Posted Jan 15, 2014 12:52:11 PM

By AVGuru

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Still glad I picked up my brand new Sony Sony VPL VW1000ES for a hair under $14k.

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