Sony VPL-XW5000ES/XW7000ES: how Sony is revolutionizing 4K laser projection

0
318

Just revealed by Sony, the Sony VPL-XW5000ES and Sony VPL-XW7000ES laser projectors celebrate the Japanese manufacturer’s 50 years of experience in video projection. New features include: a new native 4K UHD SXRD panel (3840 x 2160 pixels), an X1 Ultimate processor, higher brightness, a lighter and more compact chassis, a laser light source and IMAX Enhanced certification. Sold for €5,990 and €14,990 respectively, these two state-of-the-art native 4K Sony projectors will undoubtedly consolidate Sony’s supremacy in the world of exceptional 4K home theater projection. We were able to test them before their release!

The Sony VPL-XW5000ES (black) and Sony VPL-XW7000ES (white) have a brand-new chassis that is lighter and more compact than that of their predecessors. They have the characteristic Sony projector design with large ventilation grilles of the front panel, allowing them to be placed in a niche at the back of the room.

Packaging & accessories

The two Sony projectors are delivered in a large cardboard box. They come with a power cable, an infrared remote control with backlit buttons and two AA batteries. A removable cap protects the lens.

The new Sony VPL-XW7000ES laser projector comes with a remote control and batteries, a lens cap and a power cable.

Presentation

With the Sony VPL-XW5000ES and Sony VPL-XW7000ES projectors, the Japanese brand has completely reorganized its catalog. It now only offers laser lamp 4K models with the aim of providing greater brightness, resulting in better HDR display with more nuances on the screen. This increased brightness also means you can project content without making the room completely dark. 

Packed full of new features, these next-gen Sony projectors introduce a new SXRD panel paired with specific optics. They also benefit from the Sony X1 Ultimate video processor, which is optimized for projection. This powerful processor can also be found on the ultra high-end Sony VPL-GTZ380 projector. All of these elements are housed inside a chassis that has been redesigned to be lighter and more compact, making it easier to install. Both models are available in black and white. 

The arrival of the Sony VPL-XW5000ES and Sony VPL-XW7000ES projectors therefore allowed the Japanese manufacturer to reshuffle its offer. It now offers only UHD and 4K laser models. This means that the Sony VPL-HW65ES, Sony VPL-VW290ES and Sony VPL-VW590ES have been replaced by the Sony VPL-XW5000ES. The same goes for the Sony VPL-VW790ES which is now replaced by the Sony VPL-XW7000ES.
As a result, Sony’s 2022 projector range includes five references. The new Sony VPL-XW5000ES and Sony VPL-XW7000ES are the entry-level models. The Sony VPL-VW890 is at the heart of the range and the Sony VPL-VW5000ES and Sony VPL-GTZ380 are at the top of the manufacturer’s offer.

New SXRD Ultra HD panel

Sony introduced its exclusive SXRD (Silicon X-tal Reflective Display) technology in 2003. It was used in the Sony Qualia 004, the first ever consumer Full HD projector. This technology provides a very fast response time (smoothness), a wide color space and excellent contrast, and doesn’t generate any visible grid effect.

Released in 2004, the Sony Qualia 004 was the world’s first Full HD projector, and was the first Sony projector to be equipped with SXRD technology.

It is currently the only technology, along with JVC’s D-ILA system, that enables the production of native 4K UHD panels. Projectors with DLP UHD 4K technology are not “natively UHD 4K”. They use 1080p HD arrays whose pixels are shifted several dozen times per second to project a 4K UHD image.

At the heart of these two Sony projectors, the light of the lamp is divided into three separate streams of light. Each one is directed towards one of the three SXRD panels that independently manage the three primary colors (red, green, blue). A prism then combines the three light streams into one, which is directed towards the optics to project the image. The use of separate color panels ensures purer and richer colors. This technology also eliminates any rainbow effect that can be seen with DLP projectors with a color wheel.

After five years of research and development, the new 0.61” SXRD chips now feature UHD 4K definition. These panels therefore display a 16:9 image that is perfectly adapted to current video standards. Whether it is UHD 4K Blu-ray movies or UHD 4K productions from Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, Disney+ or Apple TV+. Other Sony 4K projectors offer 4K cinema definition at 4096 x 2160 pixels, in a 17:9 format.

Sony’s new SXRD panels are UHD, or 3840 x 2160 pixels. More compact, they are also more effective at displaying very bright images with intense blacks.

More compact, these SXRD UHD 4K panels are also more resistant than the previous generation to receive more light. As a result, they provide better contrast with HDR content, which benefit from more vivid and natural colors. The new chip’s reflective silicone layer offers better light control. More black tones are present in dark scenes and the highlights are also more detailed. Color coverage is better than the previous VW series, now reaching 95% of the DCI-P3 gamut.

Laser lamp and light path

Sony has introduced a completely new laser light source on the VPL-XW5000ES and VPL-XW7000ES, abandoning conventional lamps. A multitude of diodes are condensed on a small surface to obtain a very intense light flux. The Sony VPL-XW5000ES offers a peak luminosity measured at 2000 lumens. The Sony VPL-XW7000ES reaches 3200 lumens, which is 1.6 times brighter than the Sony VPL-VW790ES. Enough to project a very large, bright and perfectly contrasted image onto a screen measuring 3 meters, or much more, in diagonal.

The laser lamps also ensure a very consistent brightness and colorimetry throughout their lifespan (approximately 20,000 hours). Moreover, they provide great ease of use. The projector turns on instantly and turns off very quickly, without any need to warm up or cool down.

At the heart of Sony’s projectors, the light is divided into three separate streams, each directed to one of the three SXRD arrays that independently manage the three primary colors (red, green, blue). A prism then combines these three light streams and directs them to the optics to project the image. This optical path has been optimized on the Sony VPL-XW5000ES and VPL-XW7000ES projectors to fully harness the qualities of the new native 4K UHD SXRD arrays.

This laser lamp is paired with new optics. The latter consist of prisms that combine high reflectance with uniform light polarization. This optimized light path offers Sony’s new generation of projectors higher contrast and increased brightness.

X1 Ultimate for Projector Processor

The Sony VPL-XW5000ES and Sony VPL-XW7000ES projectors feature the Sony X1 Ultimate for Projector processor, which optimizes the quality of the projected image by controlling several parameters. It is the same model that equips the very high-end Sony VPL-GTZ380ES

Derived from the video processors used in Sony’s televisions, the X1 Ultimate for Projector processor is optimized for UHD 4K HDR projection. It improves sharpness, as well as the colors, contrast and HDR display.

This processor identifies and analyzes the various elements that make up each image. It improves their definition, but also the colors and dynamic range. The X1 Ultimate for Projector processor also reduces noise to offer a more precise, detailed and contrasted picture. It provides a dynamic control of the laser’s brightness. As a result, there is more nuance and finesse in light intensity variations and color gradations.

New optics

The Sony VPL-XW5000ES and Sony VPL-XW7000ES projectors feature brand-new exclusive optics. They ensure excellent image sharpness and preserve the intensity of the luminous flux, which is essential for the display of HDR images. Their aspherical front lens offers a wider focus area and a single focal point. This guarantees a sharper image compared to that of spherical lenses.

The Sony VPL-XW7000ES projector’s new ACF optical block incorporates 12 glass elements, four of which are extra-low dispersion to maximize the sharpness of the image.

The optical block of the Sony VPL-XW5000ES has a front lens that is 54mm in diameter. It has a total of nine glass elements and one resin element. The Sony VPL-XW7000ES adopts an ACF (Advanced Crisp Focus) lens that is even more powerful. It includes a front lens of 70mm, a resin element and eleven glass elements. Four of the glass elements are designed to offer extra-low dispersion. Note that the resin element in these lenses is not made of conventional plastic, but a very high-quality material. It offers high transparency, very high heat resistance and exemplary precision.

Zoom and Lens Shift 

The Sony VPL-XW5000ES and Sony VPL-XW7000ES projectors are easy to install, as they feature an optical zoom as well as a horizontal and vertical lens shift. The user therefore has a lot of freedom regarding the placement of the projectors in the room. In order to remain competitively priced, these settings are done manually on the Sony VPL-XW5000ES. This is not a problem, considering that once these settings have been adjusted, you don’t usually change them. These features are motorized on the Sony VPL-XW70000ES, which is much more convenient.

On the VPL-XW5000ES, the manual lens shift wheels can be found under a magnetic hatch on the top of the unit.

More compact chassis, HDMI 2.0

These two 4K UHD Sony projectors have a smaller and lighter chassis than that of the previous models. Consequently, they are easier to install in a living room or an entertainment room. 

Like their predecessors, these projectors feature fans that draw air from the rear of the unit. The extraction vents are placed on the front. The connectors are installed on the left side of the projector (when you are facing it). These connectors include an RJ45 connector and an RS232 port for network/home automation control (Control4, Savant, AMX compatible). There are also two 2.0 HDMI inputs, a trigger connector, an IR input (3.5mm jack) and a powered USB port. A 3D sync port is also available on the Sony VPL-XW7000ES, making it compatible with stereoscopic images. 

Strangely, Sony hasn’t included an HDMI 2.1 port but two HDMI 2.0 ports on these new projectors. However, it is important to note that they are 4K 60Hz compatible with a low input lag of 21ms. The input lag can even reach 13ms in 120Hz Full HD.

IMAX Enhanced

This is a nice surprise from Sony and a world first on a home theater projector. The Sony VPL-XW5000ES and Sony VPL-XW7000ES are both IMAX Enhanced certified. Therefore, a dedicated picture mode is available via their settings menus. This preset ensures optimal picture quality and a viewing experience that is true to the intentions of the director.

The Sony VPL-XW5000ES and Sony VPL-XW7000ES projectors are both certified IMAX Enhanced. The dedicated image mode can be found in the “Preset.calibration” menu via the remote control.

As a quick reminder, IMAX Enhanced is an audio and video quality label developed jointly by IMAX and DTS. It aims to provide viewers with an audio-visual experience in accordance with the director’s vision, provided they used optimized and IMAX Enhanced certified equipment. IMAX and DTS work with Sony Pictures and Paramount Pictures to calibrate the picture and sound of IMAX certified movies and documentaries at the source.

Comment Profiter du cinéma immersif IMAX Enhanced

Specifications

  • SXRD technology (0.61” x3 – RGB panel)
  • Native UHD 4K definition: 3840 x 2160 pixels
  • Focus, zoom and Lens Shift: manual (VPL-XW5000ES) and motorized (VPL-XW7000ES)
  • Z-Phosphor laser lamp
  • Brightness: 2000 lm (VPL-XW5000ES) / 3200 lm (VPL-XW7000ES)
  • X1 Ultimate for Projector processor
  • HDR10/HLG compatible
  • Triluminos Pro (95% DCI-P3)
  • IMAX Enhanced certified
  • 2 x HDMI 2.0 (4K 60Hz, HDCP 2.3)

Configuration

For our review, we connected the Sony VPL-XW5000ES and Sony VPL-XW7000ES projectors to a Nvidia Shield TV network media player. This allowed us to access various streaming services, such as Netflix, Disney+ and Prime Video. We also used a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player to watch several movies on 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray.

For this test, we watched several movies on 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray and we used the Spears & Munsil 4K HDR calibration disc, as well as the IMAX Enhanced demo Blu-ray.

The sources were connected to our AV receiver using NorStone Jura HDMI cables. The HDMI output of the receiver was connected to the projector’s HDMI input with a NorStone Jura HDMI Optic cable. The movies were projected onto a Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K Ultra Slim 300C projection screen. We were able to enjoy a 3 meter image at a distance of about 4.8 meters.

The Spears & Munsil Blu-ray test images gave us a very promising first look at the Sony VPL-XW5000ES projector’s capabilities with 4K HDR video content.

Installation

The optical zoom and lens shift of the Sony VPL-XW5000ES and VPL-XW7000ES made their installation a lot easier. Once they were placed behind the viewers and their height was adjusted using the adjustable feet, it only took a few seconds to position the image in the center of the projection screen.

The zoom and focus are adjusted by turning the two lens rings of the Sony VPL-XW5000ES.

The lens shift lets you easily correct the position of the picture, vertically and horizontally, and without any distortion. The zoom feature allows you to accurately and gradually increase or decrease the size of the image. A grid pattern can be displayed by pressing a dedicated button on the remote control (Pattern or Position, depending on the projector). This allows the image to be properly centered and the sharpness to be adjusted.

A grid pattern allows you to adjust the size and position of the image on the projection screen and control the focus.

The Sony VPL-XW5000ES offers the greatest freedom of placement. It has a zoom factor of 2.1x, a vertical lens shift of +/-85% and a horizontal lens shift of +/-36%. The Sony VPL-XW5000ES offers a zoom factor of 1.6x, a vertical lens shift of +/-71% and a horizontal lens shift of +/-25%.

On the Sony VPL-XW7000ES, the lens settings are motorized and are accessible on the side of the projector or directly via the three dedicated buttons on the remote control.

Picture settings

As with other Sony 4K projectors, the Sony VPL-XW5000ES and Sony VPL-XW7000ES have extensive setup menus. You can fine-tune the settings yourself with the help of a calibration disc like the Spears & Munsil 4K Blu-ray. You can also call in a calibration technician if you wish to entrust this task to a professional. They can create the most suitable configuration for your room and save it in the device’s memory. 

There are several picture presets and they can all be edited. Among them, the Reference and IMAX Enhanced modes are both very well calibrated by default, offering excellent results from the outset. In our dedicated room, the Reference mode provided the best image quality. Consequently, we didn’t really regret the absence of isf calibration on these new projectors…

The Spears & Munsil Benchmark UHD HDR calibration Blu-ray is a great tool to control and adjust the calibration of an Ultra HD projector or a 4K TV.

During our test, we set the Motionflow function to True Cinema. It reduces judder on moving images without generating a camcorder-like video effect. We checked that the noise reduction was disabled and left the HDR management on Auto.

Our impressions

We began our test by watching David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet. Available in 4K HDR on Netflix, this documentary allows you to test the sharpness of the image and the colorimetric richness of a projector or a television. The famous British natural historian addresses the major ecological issues of this century on camera. His remarks are illustrated with numerous archive videos, but also with very recent images shot in exceptional conditions. 

Close-ups of the biologist’s face are followed by forays into the plains of Serengeti and the rainforests of Borneo. It’s ideal to appreciate the precision of Sony SXRD projectors and their ability to reproduce HDR content. The new native 4K UHD SXRD panel provided images that were far more detailed and accurate than what can be achieved with pixel-shift based 4K tri LCD and DLP technologies. The quality of the new optics in Sony projectors also contributed to the sharpness of the images. 

The Sony VPL-XW5000ES also performed very well with the various 4K HDR Blu-rays used during our test. The colors were vivid and accurate. We enjoyed beautiful definition and a very convincing HDR image.

The Sony VPL-XW5000ES’ high brightness (2000 lumens), which allows for a wide range of light gradation, produced rich, nuanced images (here with Dune in 4K HDR Blu-ray).

This projector easily outperformed the Sony VPL-VW290ES and even competed with the Sony VPL-VW590ES that we tested last year, in terms of richness, color intensity and HDR rendering, in the highlights as well as in the dark areas. 

The contrast was even more spectacular with the Sony VPL-XW7000ES, whose brightness reaches 3,200 lumens. The high and low lights were more nuanced and detailed, without negatively affecting the depth of the blacks. Thanks to the ACF lens, the sharpness of the image was also better, and the outlines finer.

With 1917, Sony VPL-XW5000ES perfectly captured the dramatic tension accentuated by the natural light obscured by clouds. The heavy visual atmosphere allowed us to feel all the emotions experienced by the hero during his mission.

Whether it was reproducing the desert sands of Arrakis, the battle scenes of the Great War, or the exuberant lights and scenery of Las Vegas casinos, this projector excelled and projected a stunningly realistic image. This Sony native 4K laser projector honored the work of the various directors and the photography of the films we watched. With scenes bathed in intense, harsh light in Dune, the long takes of 1917 shot in natural light on an overcast day, and the halls of Las Vegas casinos teeming with colorful lights, the Sony VPL-XW7000ES proved to be masterful in its handling of HDR images.

With Casino, the Sony VPL-XW7000ES brilliantly delivered a wide palette of colors and offered a beautiful and very precise HDR image.

Despite its very high brightness, the blacks were deep and benefited from an extensive brightness range, allowing the projector to extract many details during night scenes (richness of the backgrounds in Casino). Very bright scenes were also excellent. The whites and ochres were bright and subtly nuanced on the dunes of Arrakis. It was a real treat for the eyes!

Compared to…

Optoma UHZ65LV

Although it provides very satisfactory UHD 4K HDR image quality, the Optoma UHZ65LV 4K projector isn’t on the same level as the two Sony projectors in terms of precision and sharpness, as well as color richness and accuracy.

https://dfxqtqxztmxwe.cloudfront.net/images/article/optoma/OPTOUHZ65LV/uhz65lv_5e6657f5474c5_1200.jpg
The Optoma UHZ65LV projector is an interesting alternative to the VPL-VW290ES, notably for projecting in a living room thanks to its higher brightness.

However, the Optoma UHZ65LV is very bright (5000 lm) and handles bright rooms better, even though the XW7000ES performs pretty well during the day with its 3,200 lumens. 

Unbeatable in a private theater room or a dark living room, the two Sony projectors provide excellent contrast and great HDR management. While the premium performance of the Sony VPL-XW7000ES costs a lot more, the smaller price difference between the Optoma and the Sony VPL-XW5000ES is fully justified in view of the performance demonstrated by the latter. In this price range, it is simply unbeatable.

Sony VPL-VW290ES, Sony VPL-VW590ES and Sony VPL-VW790ES

The Sony VPL-XW5000ES and Sony VPL-XW7000ES had the hard task of replacing the first three references in the manufacturer’s former VW range, whose excellent performance we had the opportunity to appreciate in previous tests. During this test, the two new Sony projectors brilliantly rose to the occasion. Of course, the Sony VPL-XW5000ES loses its motorized optical adjustments, but the image quality is far better than that of the models it replaces. As for the VPL-XW7000ES, it simply sets a new benchmark in its price range, and even beyond.

https://dfxqtqxztmxwe.cloudfront.net/images/article/sony/SONYVPLVW590ESBC/vpl-vw590es-blanc_5f620eddc3a31_1200.jpg
Compared to the VPL-VW590ES, the Sony VPL-XW5000ES does better in all aspects: accuracy, colorimetry, contrast and HDR rendering.

JVC DLA-NP5, JVC DLA-NZ7BE and JVC DLA-NZ8BE

The JVC projector’s native D-ILA 4K technology has many similarities to Sony’s SXRD technology. Both can project images with comparable precision and sharpness. JVC also pays special attention to the quality of its optics to maintain image brightness and sharpness.

In practice, the Sony VPL-XW5000ES does better than the JVC DLA-NP5 regarding the richness of the picture, notably thanks to the superior 0.61” UHD 4K SXRD chip and the X1 Ultimate processor. The HDR rendering is also more subtle and the colors richer.

https://dfxqtqxztmxwe.cloudfront.net/images/article/jvc/JVCDLAN5NR/dla-n5-noir_5bc8344ca593e_1200.jpg
Marketed at 6999 euros, the JVC DLA-NP5 is positioned between the Sony VPL-XW5000ES and the Sony VPL-XW7000ES. Despite serious arguments, it lacks the purity and extended color space of a laser light source to fully compete with the Sony model. However, it makes up for it with its connectivity (HDMI 2.1 4K 120Hz) and the motorization of its optical system, absent on the XW5000ES.

Compared to the JVC DLA-NZ7BE and JVC DLA-NZ8BE, the Sony VPL-XW7000ES falls short in terms of connectivity. It lacks HDMI 2.1 connectors and cannot display images in 8K, unlike the JVC models. However, the Sony projector has a higher peak brightness, offering a wider range of grayscale shades. Its color space is also more extensive. The result is richer and more vivid images, enhanced by the dynamic HDR processing.

Who are they for?

With its Sony VPL-XW5000ES and Sony VPL-XW7000ES projectors, the manufacturer is looking to cater to cinephiles who want to experience the magic of movie theaters in a living room or home theater room. Both Sony laser projectors are unmatched in their price range in terms of black depth, color depth and HDR rendering. They should delight fans of very large images. If you want to project onto a screen measuring 3m or more, do not overlook these little marvels!

Conclusion

Present on the video projection market since 1971, the Japanese manufacturer celebrates its 50 years of innovations in the field with the release of these two new projectors. The Sony VPL-XW5000ES is another step towards the popularization of native 4K UHD video projection. It is still expensive, but it offers an unbeatable price/image quality ratio. As for the Sony VPL-XW7000ES, it seriously shakes up the competition. It offers unprecedented performance and image quality in this price range and even beyond.

The Sony VPL-XW5000ES and Sony VPL-XW7000ES projectors represent a new generation of native 4K UHD projectors and should be a huge hit with home theater enthusiasts.

Thanks to their next-gen native UHD 4K SXRD chip, new high-performance optics and X1 Ultimate Processor, these two projectors create a new benchmark. They confirm Sony’s expertise in this domain and should reinforce its dominance in the native 4K home theater market.

We liked

  • The sharpness and precision of the image
  • The intense and nuanced blacks
  • The vivid colors
  • The excellent reproduction of HDR content

We would have liked

  • isf calibration
  • A motorized lens on the Sony VPL-XW5000ES

Share your opinion!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.