Sony has incorporated their very best video processor in the XW Series projectors. All models utilize projector optimized version of the X1 Ultimate which was first introduced in Sony’s flagship VPL-GTZ380.
This video processor is based on the original X1 Ultimate Processor used for Sony's top of the line BRAVIA TVs. While the processor was originally designed for Sony's Master Series LCD and OLED flat-panel televisions, this version has been optimized for projectors with the goal of enhancing the picture quality of projected images.
The X1 Ultimate Processor not only improves the detail and resolution of any source, but it also provides a noticeable improvement in the HDR performance compared to the old Sony 4K SXRD models. HDR content will be brighter with richer colors, deeper black levels, and bright highlight detail will be more visible.
The XW Series is compatible with both HDR10 and HLG content. Since most HDR10+ and Dolby Vision content is either backward compatible with or available in HDR10, you will be able to watch most HDR content available on 4K Blu-ray Disc and streaming services. HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) was developed for live broadcast, so you are all set to enjoy sports and award shows when the networks start broadcasting.
Of all the benefits of the X1 Ultimate Processor, the most notable is the Dynamic HDR Enhancer feature which dramatically improves the look of HDR content. Thanks to the Dynamic HDR Enhancer, the XW Series can analyze HDR content scene by scene for precise dynamic tone mapping of HDR10 content.
HDR analysis and tone mapping might be a new concept for a lot of projector manufacturers, but Sony began blazing the trail back in 2017 when their 4K TV lineup introduced the X1 Processor. HDR scenes are brighter, with richer colors and a better black level.
In the XW-Series, this precision tone mapping is combined with a dynamic laser light modulation to greatly improve the look of HDR content. In a previous article, we took a deep dive into how the X1 Ultimate processor helped the GTZ380 achieve the best HDR picture we have ever seen. Check it out!
In addition, a second feature called Object-Based HDR Remaster analyzes and adjusts the colors and contrast of individual objects on the screen. Some projectors can adjust contrast frame-by-frame, this is accomplished along a single contrast curve. The X1 Ultimate adjusts each object in each frame individually of both SDR and HDR content using multiple contrast curves per frame. Because of Object-Based HDR Remaster, you will experience results in greater depth, richer textures, and an even more realistic SDR and HDR image.
While more and more 4K HDR content is available every day, we still watch a lot of HD content. When HD content is projected onto a massive screen, you often see noise and artifacts. For even better 4K upscaling, the X1 Ultimate also includes Dual Database Processing. Two powerful image improvement databases work together, dynamically improving images in real-time. 4K X-Reality PRO™ upscales images to near 4K clarity while a second database cleans the picture and reduces onscreen noise.
When the GTZ380 ($80,000 minus the lens) launched many wondered why Sony would invest so much time and energy in developing a model that is outside the budgets of most projector enthusiasts. The GTZ-380 is like the hyper sportscars introduced by car manufacturers which are out of the reach of most driving enthusiasts.
For example, Porsche is constantly introducing limited edition multi-million dollar supercars. A lot of times they're not planning on selling a lot of million-dollar sports cars. However, what they learn by making the 918 Spyder ($2,000,000) plug-in hybrid supercar is eventually incorporated into the hybrid SUVs and sedans purchased by most of their customers.
So, the lessons Sony learned from the GTZ380 were incorporated into multiple components in the new XW-Series including the new SXRD panels, Z-Phosphor laser light, and video processing. Regardless of whether it is a flagship projector like a GTZ380 or an entry-level 4K SXRD model like the XW5000ES, proper control will extract maximum performance from the quality components being utilized.
OTHER NOTABLE SONY FEATURES
The XW Series utilizes many of Sony’s popular features and proprietary technologies discussed in great detail in our reviews of the VW1025ES, VW915ES and VW715ES.
Since the information about many of these common features is found in our older Sony reviews discussing them in detail here would be repetitive. Information on these features can be found in Projector Reviews new Sony Feature Explanation section. You also click any of the bolded/highlighted terms in this article to access more detailed definitions.
However, let’s quickly summarize some of the most notable Sony features found on the XW-Series.
The XW-Series have dual 18Gbps HDMI 2.1b inputs, which is more than enough bandwidth to support 4K@60P HDR content. While 48Gbps HDMI 2.1 features like 8K@60fps and 4K@120fps look good on paper, if you are a movie enthusiast, they offer very little benefit. The XW7000ES does not have 48Gbps HDMI 2.1 inputs so it doesn’t support 4K@120fps playback.
If you are a movie lover, the lack of 4K@120fps support isn’t a big deal as most movies are shot in 24fps because it looks more cinematic. While movies like The Hobbit, Billie Lynn Halftime Walk, and Gemini Man were shot at higher frame rates, most cinema lovers didn’t like the “Soap Opera” look and preferred the lower frame rate version.
The high-end gaming computers and the latest game consoles like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X support gaming in 4k@120p. However, even the most powerful gaming systems struggle to render detailed scenes at that resolution and frame rate.
I would argue that the properly ray-traced gaming in HD would look better than poorly rendered 4K and the projector’s ultra low lag will make the experience better.
To maximize the gaming experience, the XW-Series includes a Low Latency Game Mode. When this mode is engaged, the projector switches off most of its video processing to dramatically reduce game lag. Sony quotes 21ms input lag when playing content in 4K@60fps and just 13ms gaming in Full HD@120fps, which is outstanding.
Until 8K projectors are adopted in professional cinemas, there is little motivation for the big studios to produce content in 8K. Moving to 8K production would dramatically increase production costs while providing studios with very little return. In the future, we might see live broadcast events shot in high frame rate or 8K, but it will a long, long time before it becomes the industry standard.
The XW7000ES and XW6000ES utilize a motorized lens assembly with Picture Positioning (lens memories). These Lens Memories offer the ability to save different motorized lens settings, like one for HDTV and one for widescreen movies. This is a useful feature for someone who opts for a 2.35:1 screen because they want to take advantage of the entire screen area when watching widescreen movies.
When used with a stationary anamorphic lens, the XW7000ES and XW6000ES has several Aspect modes, including V Stretch and Squeeze, which can properly display both widescreen and 16x9 content on a 2.35:1 screen.
Unlike most flat-panel TVs, Sony home theater projectors like the XW7000ES and XW6000ES still support 3D. The projector’s built-in RF transmitter is compatible with third-party Active RF 3D glasses for wider coverage and greater stability.
The new 0.61-inch native 4K UHD (3840×2160) SXRD panels used in the XW Series projectors delivered a sharp picture with noticeably better contrast. The XW-Series also include better lenses more powerful video processing, and more brightness than the units they are replacing.
For example, the VW915ES is an awesome projector with a good lens but the ACF lens equipped XW7000ES that I reviewed delivered a noticeable increase in brightness, color, and edge-to-edge clarity. When compared to the award-winning VW1025ES ($40,000 SRP), the new XW7000ES ($27,999 SRP) costs about $12,000 less but offers 1000 lumens more brightness, a better video processor, and similar optical quality. To learn about our impressions of the new Sony VPL-XW7000ES check out our detailed review.
The ACF lens is also available on the XW6000ES ($12,000 SRP) gives owners access to optical quality that was previously only available on Sony 4K SXRD projectors costing 3X more,
While the XW7000ES and XW6000ES are outstanding projectors might be out of the budget range of many video enthusiasts. For anyone looking for a native 4K laser projector, the XW5000ES provides an amazing value.
The XW5000ES provides 25% more brightness, a nearly maintenance-free laser light source, and a better video processor for just $500 more than the VW325ES. This is an outstanding value, and we look forward to reviewing this model in the near future.
So, as you can see, we are excited about the launch of the XW Series which is packed with innovations, and we think they are indeed worthy replacements for the previous VW-Series models. Check back to read our reviews of the entire series!