The 4k advantage was a little less obvious with the Sintel animation than it was with the Italian time lapse footage, partly because of the amount of PC-induced screen tearing the trailer suffered with, and partly because there’s inevitably less chance for 4k detailing to ‘shine’ on a rendered animation. But there are some closeups of two characters towards the end which reveal an astonishing amount of texture mapping and clarity in their hair and clothing.
Almost unbelievably good though real 4K looks on the VW1000ES, real 4K content is currently going to take up precious little of your viewing time for the forseeable future. So we’re fascinated to see how the projector’s 4k upscaling system shapes up.
Thankfully – crucially, in fact – it shapes up exceedingly well. During previews of the VW1000ES we’d seen obvious unwelcome processing side effects, but these have been almost completely abolished on the finished product. So if you engage the Reality Creation system while watching a Blu-ray, the VW1000ES now adds bags of extra detail, texture and clarity without generating seemingly any unwanted side effects such as motion ‘haloes’, colour striping or unnatural levels of grain or dot crawl. The mind boggles at just how much power Sony has had to throw at its upscaling engine to deliver such high quality results given how many pixels are involved.
It’s important to stress that the impact the upscaling has on Blu-rays is so strong that it can clearly be seen from a normal viewing distance; you don’t just have to have your nose stuck up against the screen again to appreciate the projector’s 4k efforts.
This upscaling talent is, of course, crucial if the VW1000ES is to justify its price ahead of more true 4K sources arriving, given that its price pitches it against full HD projectors from the likes of Sim2 and Runco.
Excellent colour response
With these rival machines in mind, along with, inevitably, JVC’s 4k ‘e-shift’ X70 and X90 D-ILA models, we need to shift our focus away from simply ogling the VW1000ES’s astounding fine detail and sharpness. Looking at its colour response, though, it holds its own very nicely thanks to both the vibrancy of its tones and the almost infinite subtlety of its blends – driven by onboard 12-bit processing.
The VW1000ES’s pictures are reasonably bright, too. Not as bright as Sim2’s (30 grand!) Lumis or £16k Nero 2 models, but markedly brighter than JVC’s projectors and bright enough to look punchier and more dynamic than mainstream projectors or any previous Sony SXRD models.
Given how bright it is, we were also very impressed by how quietly the VW1000ES runs, even when using its lamp on High for 3D viewing.
Talking of 3D, this is another area where the VW1000ES (comfortably) outguns JVC’s models. For as well as its 3D pictures looking notably brighter, they also suffer much less from crosstalk ghosting noise. In fact, we struggled to see any crosstalk at all.
Sim2’s Lumis 3D and Nero projectors deliver a bit more brightness with their 3D images than the VW1000ES does, but nonetheless Sony’s 3D efforts can be considered outstanding.
There are only two areas where the VW1000ES comes second to both Sim2 and JVC projectors. First, its upscaling engine, while outstanding with Blu-rays, can struggle with standard definition sources – as might be expected, really, given how much new picture information is having to be calculated.
Second, intensely dark sequences like the one where Lord Voldemort and his army look down on Hogwarts from a hillside show a little grey clouding over parts of the picture that should look black – a slight black level shortcoming that can also lead to such images also losing some shadow detail.
Hot on the heels of its spectacular success with its 46HX853 TV, Sony has struck again with the VW1000ES. This is a genuinely groundbreaking projector which, even with its minor black level issues, remains a scintillating performer.
Especially as, of course, it introduces us to the emphatic joys of 4k. Yes, these ultra-high definition pictures look at their mind-blowing best when your source is a native 4k one. But with such sources not likely to be widespread for years, perhaps the single most important thing about the VW1000ES is that its 4K upscaling also makes Blu-rays look better than normal. So its 4k talents don’t just have to sit there unused until Hollywood finally gets its home 4k2k act together.
Score in detail
2D Image Quality 9
3D Image Quality 10