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When Tom Norton invited me to check out the Sony VPL-VW600ES Ultra-HD/4K projector he was reviewing for Sound & Vision magazine, I jumped at the chance. I was particularly interested in comparing native UHD content with a Blu-ray of the same material upscaled by the projector, and Tom had set up just such a demo in his living room.

 



 

Tom recently installed a 96-inch-wide Stewart StudioTek 130 2.35:1 screen, and he used the projector's automated zoom to fill it with widescreen movies. He set up the projector to produce a peak-white level of about 18 footlamberts, and with the dynamic iris set to "Limited," the black level was 0.0009 fL. Interestingly, setting the iris to "Full" produced higher peak-white readings—as much as 52 fL in high lamp mode! With the iris disabled, the black level rose to 0.029 fL.

 

The projector uses 8-bit color and was set to the Rec.709 color gamut; it offers other gamuts, but none are identified by name, so we don't know if they conform to P3 (the digital-cinema gamut), Rec.2020 (doubtful), or something else. Tom reports that the gamma settings are fairly close to accurate according to their labels; we watched mostly with gamma set to 2.4.

 

First up was The Amazing Spider-Man in native UHD from a Sony FMP-X1 server compared with the same movie from an Oppo BDP-103 Blu-ray player. The two devices were connected to two different HDMI inputs on the projector (both calibrated), and the movies were cued up to nearly the same point, so we could switch inputs to see what, if any, difference there was between them.

 

The difference was almost non-existent. As Tom notes in his review (which will be published in the May 2014 issue of Sound & Vision), the UHD version was perhaps a bit smoother without being soft, and I could see his point, though without a direct A/B comparison, it would be impossible to say that the UHD version is noticeably better. Even with the comparison, it was very difficult to see much difference at all—the Blu-ray looked great! Clearly, the difference between native UHD and upscaled HD is far smaller than the difference between native HD and upscaled standard-def, which is obvious to any critical viewer.

 

Next we looked at a bit of Lawrence of Arabia in native UHD from the server, and it looked spectacular. (Tom didn't have the Blu-ray handy for a comparison.) Video guru Joe Kane had visited Tom a few days before I did, and even he was impressed with how that movie looked—no easy feat with golden eyes like his!

 

Finally, we watched some of Ender's Game on Blu-ray, which also looked fantastic, with great color and exquisite detail. In particular, the shadow detail in some very dark scenes was superb, though I could occasionally see the iris in operation.

 

I've long maintained that the increased resolution of UHD/4K displays is only part of the UHD story—and probably not the most important part. Other factors such as greater dynamic range, higher frame rates, and wider color gamut are not yet standardized for UHD consumer displays, so buying such a display now means it will be unable to render those other attributes when the studios start mastering with them in a year or two.

 

On the other hand, if upscaling 1080p to UHD looks significantly better than the same content in a 1080p projected image—which it might on a very large screen—that could be a good reason to spend the extra money on a UHD projector. I would love to see a direct A/B comparison of native UHD content on a UHD projector like the VW600ES and the same content in high-def on a similar high-end 1080p projector, such as the Sony VPL-VW95ES, which cost less than half the price of the VW600ES ($6000 versus $15,000) when it was available. Until such a comparison can be made, I will continue to recommend against spending the extra money on a UHD projector until the factors other than resolution have been standardized and content is available that takes advantage of them.

 

For more on the Sony VPL-VW600ES, see Tom Norton's review in the May 2014 issue of Sound & Vision.

 

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Great writeup! Thanks.


I'm also looking forward to how passive 3D upscaled to 4k stacks up to Active 3D on a 1080 HD display compares in performance.
 

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Nice review. I think of this Sony as a great 15k projector - plenty of light output, great black levels, good optics, lens memories for 2.35. 4K is a bonus



Even pre-cal it was good, post cal even better.


Pre-cal:




Post-cal:

 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson  /t/1519669/sony-vpl-vw600es-uhd-4k-projector-a-brief-critical-look#post_24404281


Tom recently installed a 96-inch-wide Stewart StudioTek 130 2.35:1 screen,

Is that size correct? If so, that is a strikingly small screen.


Even using zoom for 2.35 movies that is the equivalent of a 110" diagonal 16:9. When watching 16:9 content it's only 83" diagonal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson  /t/1519669/sony-vpl-vw600es-uhd-4k-projector-a-brief-critical-look#post_24404281



First up was The Amazing Spider-Man in native UHD ...vs Blu-ray ....The difference was almost non-existent. ....

The only test here was how the good the Sony was at upscaling 1080P to UHD vs UHD native...for that movie.


I hope I'm not being a jerk but on that size screen I could understand that outcome.


Thanks for sharing.


Any look at a projector is always fun!
 

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Wow that is some pretty impressive performance out of the box.


Had a chance to compare the 1100 head to head with the 600.

I thought the 600 was a nice projector for $15k however the 1100 was on a whole different level in all respects

As it should be for twice the money.

We also had a 30k DPI Highlite 3D High Contrast on hand.

The lens memories on the Sony were really nice as 2:40 without a secondary lens is the way to go.

And 1080p unconverted looked great.

That being said the DLP was the unanimous favorite of the group.

Brightness, motion handling and punchy colors were all areas that were mentioned as improvements.
 

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I think part of the reason you did not see much difference between UHD and up scaled 1080p, is because you used such a tiny screen.

You should be using a real HT sized screen of 140" or more
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yzfbossman  /t/1519669/sony-vpl-vw600es-uhd-4k-projector-a-brief-critical-look#post_24404631



Is that size correct? If so, that is a strikingly small screen.
Yes, it's a 96-inch-wide screen. However, the absolute size of the screen doesn't matter; it must be considered in relation to the seating distance, which in this case was around 12 feet, just right for 1080p images on a screen of that size. Of course, the seating distance should be closer for UHD, at which point the screen would occupy even more of the visual field, but the pixel structure of HD could become visible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dionyz  /t/1519669/sony-vpl-vw600es-uhd-4k-projector-a-brief-critical-look#post_24404744


I think part of the reason you did not see much difference between UHD and up scaled 1080p, is because you used such a tiny screen.

You should be using a real HT sized screen of 140" or more
As I said in my previous reply, the absolute size of the screen is meaningless until you consider the seating distance. Plus, that's what Tom Norton has, so that's what we used. As for seeing a difference between UHD and upscaled HD, I did get close to the screen for a moment and still couldn't see much difference except when I got close enough to see the pixel structure of 1080p; there was virtually no visible pixel structure in the UHD image.
 

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Nice write up, Scott.


How could Tom not have Lawrence of Arabia on Blu-ray!



I wonder if the inevitable 4K Blu-ray will be much of an improvement from the UHD server? Imagine at least somewhat, but how much will be interesting.
 

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For the UHD content, Joe Kane would have advocated for a screen at least 10 feet wide. There is an article in widescreen review written by him explaining that even with an appropriate seating distance to a smaller screen, a ten foot wide screen is the minumum size to truly see the full benefit of the UHD material. Not that a smaller screen wouldn't have benefits with the UHD material, you just won't be able to see the full potential according to him. I also saw a video somewhere on YouTube possibly of him explaining the phenomenon too. Him and many professionals doing post work on 4K video also saw the benefits from the larger screen size.


Not that any of this truly matters because from what I've heard the "UHD" content from the Sony store is questionable at best for its encoding and bit rate quality. Most of the content is hit or miss and many have reported upscaled BD looking better than the downloaded content. So it's best to wait to criticize screen size until we get a reference UHD standard and content when debating viewed PQ differences.
 

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I wish we would see a 4k BD but I just don't see it happening.

The best I think we can hope for is a high quality download from someone like Kaleidescape or Prima Cinema.
 

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Quote:
Not that any of this truly matters because from what I've heard the "UHD" content from the Sony store is questionable at best for its encoding and bit rate quality. Most of the content is hit or miss and many have reported upscaled BD looking better than the downloaded content. So it's best to wait to criticize screen size until we get a reference UHD standard and content when debating viewed PQ differences.

This is very true. I didn't watch Spider man but I did watch Salt and Total Recall on the server and Total Recall looks stunning as compared to Salt.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by trans_lux  /t/1519669/sony-vpl-vw600es-uhd-4k-projector-a-brief-critical-look#post_24404688


Wow that is some pretty impressive performance out of the box.


Had a chance to compare the 1100 head to head with the 600.

I thought the 600 was a nice projector for $15k however the 1100 was on a whole different level in all respects

As it should be for twice the money.

We also had a 30k DPI Highlite 3D High Contrast on hand.

The lens memories on the Sony were really nice as 2:40 without a secondary lens is the way to go.

And 1080p unconverted looked great.

That being said the DLP was the unanimous favorite of the group.

Brightness, motion handling and punchy colors were all areas that were mentioned as improvements.

I'm not surprised. At 15K it's a great projector. The other offerings in that range generally don't have the brightness and contrast combination that this one does. It's a great PJ for the large acoustically transparent AVS crowd.


At 30k there are some really nice three chippers. SIM2s what I use, the Lumis is 33K. Amazing projector.
 

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Great write-up!  It's probably best to look at the Sony 600ES as an outstanding 1080p projector that accepts a UHD signal. Since the UHD standard hasn't been finalized, it's hard for UHD to be the sole driving factor for a purchase like this.   I think this UHD is definitely more of an evolutionary improvement (closer to the 720p/1080i-->1080p transition) than revolutionary improvement (like the SD-->HD transition) and I think it'll take years before UHD looks its best, just as true visual reference-quality blu rays just started being released in recent years after 8 years of of Blu Ray existence (has it been that long already? 2006-2014--whoa).

 

As others have mentioned, I do think 96" is too small for the UHD to be of any benefit. At 12' from 96", most material will probably look really good.  I remember when I made the transition from a 92" screen to a 10-foot wide screen (12 foot seating distance for both).  I entered the 92" as a lens memory and went back and forth after installing the 10-footer--the 10 footer was far less forgiving of less-than-pristine blu rays (think, Casino Royale), which is where the benefit of UHD would really come in.  Blu rays like Oblivion and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol look absolutely outstanding at that distance, and UHD might not be much (or any) benefit for those films even at the 10' size. The 600ES is still a great projector though; I almost bought one earlier this year, but my wallet and I had a difference of opinion, so it didn't happen.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson  /t/1519669/sony-vpl-vw600es-uhd-4k-projector-a-brief-critical-look#post_24404281


I've long maintained that the increased resolution of UHD/4K displays is only part of the UHD story—and probably not the most important part. Other factors such as greater dynamic range, higher frame rates, and wider color gamut are not yet standardized for UHD consumer displays, so buying such a display now means it will be unable to render those other attributes when the studios start mastering with them in a year or two.

I'm confused by this statement. Since HDMI 2.x is an actual standard that these newer devices conform to, what makes you think any 4K standard will ever include improvements in the other attributes you mention? Why did the industry even do HDMI 2.x then when it was already almost 2 years behind the first 4K offerings from Sony if they planned on increasing those attributes that soon?


My guess is they will wait until 8K to milk any major advancements in 4K past what is already in HDMI 2.x.


What specific "year or two" advancements do you expect to see standardized? Especially for frame rates, which already got a nice bump in HDMI 2.0?
 

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I almost bought the Sony but it wasn't for 4K capability. It will be too long before there is enough 4K content to make that compelling (for me). Rather, I was interested in the Sony for it's general strengths as a projector over all.

It would have been a significant step up in brightness from my JVC, and the Sony also has a stellar reputation for upscaling and processing of Blu-Rays. I just want the huge movie collection I already own, and am still building, to look it's

best and reviews/user reports tend to agree the Sony 4Ks are top class.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by trans_lux  /t/1519669/sony-vpl-vw600es-uhd-4k-projector-a-brief-critical-look#post_24405111


I wish we would see a 4k BD but I just don't see it happening.

The best I think we can hope for is a high quality download from someone like Kaleidescape or Prima Cinema.

We will see 4K BD's. It is only a question of when. There is even a chance that you might see 4K BD before the end of this year.
 

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Thank you Scott, I have a ten foot wide StewartFilmScreen Firehawk G3 2:35 and I sit ten feet away? I think that 4K is evolutionary, I compared the JVC RS66 vs the RS35U and it was undistinguishable! I saw the Sony and have to say that I was impressed just with Blu Ray upscaling, but not for $15,000 especially when it sells in Japan for $7,000
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrolicBeast  /t/1519669/sony-vpl-vw600es-uhd-4k-projector-a-brief-critical-look#post_24405648


Great write-up!  It's probably best to look at the Sony 600ES as an outstanding 1080p projector that accepts a UHD signal. Since the UHD standard hasn't been finalized, it's hard for UHD to be the sole driving factor for a purchase like this.   I think this UHD is definitely more of an evolutionary improvement (closer to the 720p/1080i-->1080p transition) than revolutionary improvement (like the SD-->HD transition) and I think it'll take years before UHD looks its best, just as true visual reference-quality blu rays just started being released in recent years after 8 years of of Blu Ray existence (has it been that long already? 2006-2014--whoa).


As others have mentioned, I do think 96" is too small for the UHD to be of any benefit. At 12' from 96", most material will probably look really good.  I remember when I made the transition from a 92" screen to a 10-foot wide screen (12 foot seating distance for both).  I entered the 92" as a lens memory and went back and forth after installing the 10-footer--the 10 footer was far less forgiving of less-than-pristine blu rays (think, Casino Royale), which is where the benefit of UHD would really come in.  Blu rays like Oblivion and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol look absolutely outstanding at that distance, and UHD might not be much (or any) benefit for those films even at the 10' size. The 600ES is still a great projector though; I almost bought one earlier this year, but my wallet and I had a difference of opinion, so it didn't happen.

Yes a 96" wide 2.35 viewed from 12' is 3.5 screen height viewing distance. Going to be hard pressed to see much difference from that distance. I am viewing from 2.56 screen heights and I can clearly see the difference in 4K and 1080P. The 4K movie of Spiderman shows a difference VS 1080P, but if you want to see what 4K can look like, look at some of the free shorts that you can get. Watermelon Magic looks great and is definitely a couple steps above 1080P. It may take some time (it did with BD) but we should eventually see some really nice 4K BD's.
 
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