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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

Shootout:
Sony VW600ES vs Runco X-200i

It's easy to say that the VW600ES is superior to 1080p projectors that cost a fraction of its $14,999 price. But how does the VW600ES fare against something in its own price class?

The Runco XtremeProjection X-200i is a 1080p projector built for the custom installation and specialty design market. This boutique projector also sells for $14,999 with the standard lens through authorized Runco dealers. Runco has a reputation for building some of the finest projectors available at any price. How it stacks up against Sony's new 4K powerhouse?

The Runco X-200i is a beast of a projector. It is clad in an all-metal black chassis and it weighs nearly 60 pounds, about double the size and weight of the VW600. The centrally-mounted lens is interchangeable, and Runco offers lensing options with throw ratios between 1.85:1 to 4.00:1. It produces 1430 lumens after calibration and uses a single-chip DLP light engine with an all-RGB color wheel. It lacks many of the user-friendly features found on today's more consumer-oriented models, and is clearly designed to be professionally installed and calibrated. As such, you won't find features like powered lens adjustments, extensive zoom and lens shift, lens memory, frame interpolation, or smart sharpening on the X-200i.

The most noticeable similarity between the images of the X-200i and VW600ES is color. Both projectors are capable of producing near-perfect color, and any differences between them can be chalked up to variances in the individual calibrations rather than inherent differences in the projectors themselves. Neither projector has any obvious flaws in the color gamut or gave us any difficulty during calibration.

Perhaps the biggest image quality difference, though, is the sheer amount of detail produced by the VW600. Placed head-to-head against the X-200i, the VW600ES clearly has the more detailed image. This is true even without the benefit of the VW600's Reality Creation system, and turning it on only increases this perception.

Digital noise. The X-200i lacks an effective noise reduction feature. In sources with a moderate to high level of noise, that noise is more apparent on the X-200i than on the VW600. The X-200i has a noise reduction control that defaults to zero, but runs up to 200. At 200, noise is eliminated but the picture quality is substantially softened to the point of being unwatchable. Pushing the control up to just 50 produces a limited reduction of noise but already begins to impact image sharpness. We found the noise reduction feature on the X-200i of limited use, and noise to be a distracting artifact on many sources.

Light output. Both the X-200i and the VW600ES produce about 1300 lumens in their video-optimized modes, but the VW600ES's light output is highly variable while the X-200i is more or less fixed. The X-200i has a 1.3:1 lens, so it does not lose a significant amount of light due to zoom. On the other hand, the VW600ES can lose up to 30% of its light by using the telephoto end of its zoom lens. The X-200i lacks a low power or low lamp mode, does not have any preset image modes, and has no manual or automatic iris, so it is more or less locked at its maximum output. In contrast, you can use the zoom, iris, and lamp power to reduce light output on the VW600ES by up to 72%. So while the X-200i produces roughly 1300 lumens no matter what, the VW600ES can output anywhere between 1325 lumens and 370 lumens.

The X-200i's constant high light output makes it difficult to use in rooms with small screens. On the other hand, the VW600's light output is extremely adjustable, so it is trivial to fine-tune light output to fit your needs.

Contrast. The VW600ES wins when it comes to black level. In point of fact, it's not even a contest; the X-200i's black level is one of its weakest points. Dynamic range, on the other hand, is a very close match, and the X-200i is neck and neck with the VW600ES with each projector winning the comparison in certain scenes and losing in others.

Input lag. If you are the kind of person who wants to use your $15,000 projector for video games, the X-200i's input lag of 30 milliseconds beats the pants off of the VW600's 120ms time. The difference between the two is palpable. Controls feel sluggish on the VW600ES but snappy on the X-200i.

Audible noise. The VW600ES is near-silent during use. The X-200i, by contrast, has a louder fan that occasionally resonates with the projector chassis, causing a rising and falling rattle/hum during operation.

The bottom line is that the VW600ES is a more fully-featured projector that produces a cleaner, more detailed image than the X-200i. The VW600ES has significant advantages in clarity of detail, digital noise, black level, variability of light output, placement flexibility, overall feature set, and audible noise -- not to mention the fact that it is a 4K projector and thus capable of displaying native 4K content once more of it becomes available. The Runco X-200i, on the other hand, manages to tie the VW600ES in dynamic range and maximum light output, while also having a significant advantage in input lag. Overall, in terms of pure bang-for-the-buck performance, the VW600ES is a far better use of $15,000.

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Review Contents: The Viewing Experience Setup and Configuration Key Features Performance
  Limitations Shootout vs Runco X200i Conclusion

Reader Comments(17 comments)

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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