Sony VPL-VW5000ES 4K HDR projector hands on review

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posted on Tuesday, 17th November 2015 by Steve May

4K  projectors  Marata Vision 


When Sony fired up its new VPL-VW5000ES 4K home theatre projector at the recent TT Expo organised by Inside Out London, you could audibly hear jaws thud onto the floor. Sony’s most ambitious home theatre projector was making its first appearance in Europe, and it very quickly became clear that in the world of projection technology nothing was ever going to be quite the same again. Inside CI was afforded the opportunity to get a hands-on with this ground-breaking projector, and we’ve got to say we were blown away.

Sony VPL-VW5000ES 4K projector: Design and features
When it comes to design, the VPL-VW5000ES is unapologetically industrial. With a construction optimised to cool the laser light engine, it eschews the residential style we’re familiar with from the rest of the Sony home theatre range. This is, of course, entirely appropriate. There’s a newly developed liquid cooling system onboard, promising low noise operation. During our hands-on, the projector appeared to operate with a relatively quite thrum.

Connections, which run down the right-hand side of the unit, comprise dual HDMI, BNC Sync In/Out. RS232, Ethernet, USB, IR In/Out and two 12v triggers. HDMI inputs are HDCP 2.2 compatible, and will handle 4K 60p signals up to 8-bit 4:4:4: or 12-bit 4:2:2. Commercial 4K content, from Ultra HD Blu-ray, is mandated at 10-bit 4:2:0.  

The VW5000 has powered focus and zoom and comes bundled with a VPLL-Z7013 lens with 1.27 to 2.73:1 throw distance, and lens shift capability of +/- 80% vertical and +/- 31% horizontal, but there’s also the  optional short throw VPLL-Z7008  offering: 0.8:1 to 1.0:1.

The projector measures 550 x 228 x 750 mm (w/h/d), and weighs 43kg. To facilitate installation, the projector can be tilted by up to 30 degrees, which enables it to be installed in tight spaces and used with mirrors.

P1013390 (1)

P1013406 (1)

Sony VPL-VW5000ES 4K projector: Performance
Like its more domesticated siblings, the big Sony uses a trio of 4096 x 2160  SXRD panels, albeit coupled to a very powerful laser light source. Able to deliver 5000 lumens (with 5000 lm CLO), this is enough to positively shine from a significant distance in a large room.

The TT Expo was held in one of Sony Europe's conference facilities, which in terms of cubic volume could well double for a large dedicated high-end cinema. While the new VPL-VW520ES (pictured above atop the VW5000ES) delivered bright, acceptable images, in this space, the larger projector offered up a gigantic image of flatpanel like intensity.

The VW5000ES is High Dynamic Range (HDR) capable, however this early sample was not being demonstrated with such. Running native 4K files from a media server, we saw a selection of astonishingly vivid wildlife footage (want to show off 4K? A tropical frog is your best friend), as well as footage from House of Cards season 2, The Blacklist and the recent Sony Pictures remake of Annie.




The colour depth and fine detail on the screen was like nothing we've seen before, outside of a commercial theatre. The image popped and then popped some more. The real money shot was a close-up of Raymond Reddington’s face (James Spader) in The Blacklist clip. Shot on a Sony CineAlta PMW-F55 camera, it fascinated with dermatological clarity. In fact, it was so sharp you could make out the cameraman and his lighting rig reflected in Spader’s iris, if you sauntered close enough to the screen.

Sony claims an ‘infinite dynamic contrast ratio’ as well as the technical chops to all but cover the new BT.2020 colour gamut, and cope the full DCI-P3colour space. 

While there's much about the model that's leading edge, there's also plenty that’s familiar too. The VW5000ES features Sony’s lauded Reality Creation image processor, used to upscale HD content to near native 4K, as well as Advanced Motionflow, which retains detail in fast moving scenes. The projector also supports 3D and has an integrated RF transmitter. While our sample wasn’t demonstrated with 3D, the high light output would bode well when it comes to compensating for light lost through shuttering spectacles.

Aside from its astonishing colour fidelity, the laser light source enables fast on/off with a long operational life with a linear decrease in brightness. This theoretically means no pronounced colour shift over time. If the colour settings do waver, the VPL-VW5000ES includes a built-in re-calibration function which can access how much the projector has drifted from its original factory calibration.


Sony VPL-VW5000ES 4K projector: Verdict
All too often, premium installs aren’t appropriate for relatively inexpensive home cinema projectors. Every installer knows that installing a 1080p solution in a high-end theatre is an anachronism. But with the VW5000ES, Sony has moved out of its usual comfort zone and redrawn the landscape for high-end home theatre projection. The VPL-VW5000 is a game-changing new option for installers.The VPL-VW5000 retails for £49,999, or 65,000 euro. To be honest, after an afternoon with the commercial-grade VPL-VW5000ES, that doesn't even seem expensive.

Distribution is via Marata Vision. For more stories on Marata Vision’s product portfolio, visit our partner page here.

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology specialist who also writes for T3TechRadarHome Cinema Choice, Trusted Reviews and The Luxe Review.

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