Review Price £16,799.00
Sony VPL-VW1000ES first look - First Picture Impressions
At first glance this might seem a pretty crazy situation when you’re demoing the world’s first true 4k home cinema projector. But really the simple fact is that currently not only are native 4k video sources excruciatingly hard to find, they’re also very difficult to get into devices via standard HDMI ports. This situation should change, given that HDMI v1.4 alrady supports the 4K video format. But for now, if Sony had wanted to run a 4K video source into the VW1000ES, it would have had to use a large and expensive adaptor to output the 4K source in an HDMI v1.4-friendly format.
Another slight concern about the demo was that we noticed Sony was using a ‘humble’ PS3 as the source Blu-ray player for its 18 grand projector, as opposed to a really high-end player. But actually, the console might well become a key partner for the VW1000ES thanks to an upcoming firmware upgrade (currently rumoured to be happening in January) that will allow the console to ship out still photos at native 4k resolutions. This would make the PS3 effectively become the first domestic true 4k source in the world, albeit only with stills, not video.
With no native 4k sources on hand for the demo, the event effectively turned immediately into an examination of the VW1000ES’s upscaling capabilities. As in, how well it converts Full HD Blu-rays into 4K output pictures.
The first bit of footage to be shown was actually a still image of a lit news-stand against a dark background. The Sony engineers toggled between the ‘2k’ and upscaled 4k image, and the results were... noticeable rather than amazing. But there was definitely more clarity over the magazine covers and less sign of jaggedness over edges.
Also, promisingly, this extra refinement was delivered without making the image look noisier.
Next up was the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie on Blu-ray - and with this, the VW1000ES’s impact was seriously impressive. The amount of detail and clarity the upscaling system adds to the native HD image is abundantly obvious, to the point where at times it’s almost a revelation.
The system is at its best, understandably, with relatively static footage, such as an extreme close-up of Captain Jack’s face that was paused so that the Sony engineers could toggle the upscaling on and off. The extra crispness and detail the 4k image contained really was spectacular.
We were impressed, too, by how accurate in colour terms the upscaling processing was, as it delivered seemingly immaculate colour blends, free of inconsistent tonal shifts, ‘striping’ or ‘blocking’.