Sony VPL-VW350ES 4K SXRD Projector Reviewed

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Sony VPL-VW350ES 4K SXRD Projector Reviewed

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Measurements
Here are the measurements for the Sony VPL-VW350ES. Click on each photo to view the graph in a larger window.

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The top charts show the projector's color balance, gamma, and total gray-scale Delta Error, below and after calibration. Ideally, the red, green, and blue lines will be as close together as possible to reflect an even color balance. We currently use a gamma target of 2.2 for HDTVs and 2.4 for projectors. The bottom charts show where the six color points fall on the Rec 709 triangle, as well as the luminance error and total Delta Error for each color point.

For both gray scale and color, a Delta Error under 10 is considered tolerable, under five is considered good, and under three is considered imperceptible to the human eye. For more information on our measurement process, check out How We Evaluate and Measure HDTVs.


The Downside
I encountered some issues in the processing department with the VPL-VW350ES. First of all, this projector doesn't accept a 480i resolution (480p is the lowest resolution you can feed it), so I didn't need to run through my DVD deinterlacing tests. With 1080i, although the VPL-VW350ES passed the film test on the HD HQV Benchmark disc, it failed every 1080i cadence on the Spears and Munsil HD Benchmark BD, even the standard 3:2 film test. Likewise, as I ran through various jaggies/detail test patterns on the Spears and Munsil disc, the signal consistently looked cleaner when I fed 4K from the Oppo player, as opposed to sending the signal "source direct" and letting the Sony handle the upconversion process itself. The luma zone plate pattern had some anomalies in it when sent as 1080p/24 from the Oppo, but it looked fine when sent as 4K. The chroma multiburst pattern looked fine when sent in 4K, but the highest vertical frequencies were rolled off when sent as 1080p/24. Speaking strictly in terms of detail, the VPL-VW350ES seemed to do a fine job of upconverting all sources; however, if you want to ensure the highest quality signal, I recommend that you mate this projector with a good upconverting 4K Blu-ray player, AV receiver, or other 4K scaler. Since only the HDMI 2 input has HDCP 2.2 copy protection, ultimately you're probably going to want to feed every source through an HDCP 2.2-compliant 4K scaler/switch/receiver anyhow.

Given that this 3D-capable projector costs $10,000, Sony should have thrown a few pairs of 3D glasses in the package. 3D will reportedly not be part of the upcoming Ultra HD Blu-ray spec, but it is part of the current Blu-ray ecosystem, and consumers shouldn't have to pay more for the glasses at this price point.

The VPL-VW350ES's HDMI inputs are of the 300MHz variety, which means they accept 4K/60 at a 4:2:0 color space but not 4:4:4 (you can read more about what that means here. This projector will not support the 10-bit color and High Dynamic Range technology that will be part of the Ultra HD Blu-ray spec. We're just beginning to see the possibilities of HDR in the projection realm on the theatrical side, so to expect HDR at anywhere near a real-world price point on the consumer side is unrealistic right now. In terms of color gamut, I did measure the three additional color-space options and experiment with the custom color space; all of them can produce a wider gamut than Rec 709, but they don't get out to Rec 2020 or the P3/DCI color space that is claimed possible in the new quantum dot TVs.

Finally, when I mated the VPL-VW350ES with the Screen Innovations Zero Edge Pure White 1.3 screen, a fixed-frame screen with virtually no bezel, I could see significant light bleed around the edges of the frame. Obviously this wasn't a noticeable problem with a free-hanging drop-down screen; but, if you have an on-wall screen, you might be better served by one with a larger black bezel to absorb that light.

Comparison & Competition
The VPL-VW350ES is currently the lowest priced native 4K projector on the market; but, as I mentioned in the introduction, JVC and Epson both offer slightly less-expensive models that accept 4K source content and use pixel-shifting technology to simulate a 4K image. The JVC DLA-X700R and Epson LS10000 both cost about $8,000. While you don't get the native 4K resolution, these projectors do have other strengths. JVC's home theater projectors are heralded for their superior black level; from what I've read elsewhere, the X700R bests the VW350ES in the black-level/contrast department, but the Sony is brighter and more accurate out of the box. Also, the JVC's inputs are not HDCP 2.2-compliant, which will greatly limit its compatibility with 4K sources. The Epson reportedly can produce a brighter image than the Sony (in its less accurate modes) and has a dynamic iris to produce a good black level, and it uses a longer-lasting laser light source.

Conclusion
There's a lot to like about Sony's VPL-VW350ES 4K SXRD projector. Beyond being the most affordable native 4K projector on the market, it's simply an excellent performer, combining a very good black level with good light output, great detail, accurate color, and a clean, smooth image. Yes, this projector can do a fine job with the DVD, HDTV, and Blu-ray sources you have right now, but let's be honest: if you plan to stick with these sources for a good long while, there are plenty of great, theater-worthy, lower-priced projectors to choose from, including Sony's own 1080p VPL-HW55ES and JVC's e-Shift DLA-X500R. The VPL-VW350ES is ideally suited for the person who has 4K sources right now--like an Oppo upconverting player or the Sony FMP-X10 media server--and is counting the days until Ultra HD Blu-ray arrives. If you want 4K and you want a truly big-screen theatrical experience at home, then you have to take a serious look at the Sony VPL-HW350ES.

Additional Resources
� Visit our Front Projectors category page to read similar reviews.
Sony Announces Pricing and Availability of 2015 TV Line at HomeTheaterReview.com.

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HTR Product Rating for Sony VPL-VW350ES 4K SXRD Projector

Criteria Rating

Performance

4.5

Value

4

Overall

4.5

Disagree with our product rating? Email us and tell us why you think this product should receive a higher rating.


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