Sony VPL-GTZ380 4K SXRD Projector Review - Summary

November 30, 2021 / By Project Reviews Staff

As expected, when it comes to HD and 4K SDR content, the Sony GTZ380 is outstanding. While calibration will improve the picture quality, the GTZ380 delivered an accurate, natural-looking picture right out of the box.

The GTZ380 could produce close to its rated brightness of 10,000 ANSI lumens even in its most accurate picture modes and after calibration! Many projectors deliver significantly less than their rated brightness when placed in their most accurate picture mode. It is not uncommon to see the brightness cut in half.

Once the projector is calibrated, the unit's Auto Calibrate feature combined with its Z-Phosphor light source ensures that the GTZ380 will deliver "calibrated" color accuracy for several years.

For the past several months, I have been using a VW915ES ($20.000) as my reference projector. When viewing HD and 4K SDR content, the main difference between the two projectors is image clarity. While the VW915ES has a good lens, the higher quality ARC-F lens used in the GTZ380 delivered a noticeable increase in clarity and sharpness edge to edge.

While most people are amazed at the image produced by the VW915ES when compared to the GTZ380 the difference in HDR picture quality was massive. Since GTZ380 (10,000 lumens) brightness capability is 5X higher than the VW915ES (2000 lumens), less aggressive tone mapping is required. When viewing HDR, the GTZ380 could easily produce highlight details and bright saturated color while still delivering great full-screen brightness.

Most projectors struggle when trying to produce the brightness range found in HDR content and can only deliver dull HDR, which is why I usually prefer watching HDR content on an LCD or OLED instead of a projector. However, the GTZ380 looked like a gigantic HDR flat panel, it produced the best-looking HDR picture I have ever seen from a projector in a home theater or professional theater.

Besides amazing brightness capabilities and its ability to deliver 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, another major reason why HDR looked so good on the GTZ380 is Sony's new Dynamic HDR Enhancer feature. Powered by the X1 Ultimate Processor, this feature measures the average and peak brightness of HDR10 content frame by frame for precise dynamic tone mapping to maximize the projector's HDR picture quality.

The new projector's optimized X1 processor combines signal HDR analysis with a dynamic iris and precise laser light modulation to produce a great-looking HDR picture.

Its native 4K resolution SXRD panels delivered a sharp picture. The GTZ380 did an excellent job upscaling HD content. Only a select group of projectors like JVC's lineup of DILA projectors can match a Sony 4K SXRD laser projector equipped with a dynamic iris. It is doubtful that any single-chip DLP home theater projector can even come close.

Lastly, the GTZ380 is packed with "installer-friendly" features, including a motorized lens with tons of zoom and lens shift, including position memories. Picture position memories are great if you have masking screens or if you want to maximize the image size of 16:9 and widescreen on a 2.35:1 screen. In addition, the GTZ380 has a large amount of zoom and horizontal/vertical lens shift capability, which makes installation a breeze, especially when trying to replace an older, previously mounted unit. Also, the GTZ380 is an interchangeable lens projector, so there is even an optional short-throw ARC-F lens available.

While the GTZ380 does command a premium price over most 4K home theater projectors, its outstanding, class-leading SDR/HDR picture quality and installation-focused feature set make it an excellent option for any movie enthusiast who can afford it.

With a retail price of $80,000 (minus the lens), the GTZ380 is an expensive home theater projector, but it delivered the best-projected image I have ever experienced in my room. If you are a video/movie enthusiast looking for the ultimate home theater and you can afford a GTZ380, it is highly recommended.

PROS

  • 10,000 ANSI lumens
  • 100% DCI-P3 color reproduction
  • Outstanding ARC-F lens delivers amazing clarity
  • Native 4K resolution (4096x2160)
  • Upgraded Z-Phosphor Laser Light Engine
  • 20,000 hour light source life
  • Frame by Frame Tone Mapping to optimize HDR10 viewing
  • Can maintain most of its rated 10,000 lumens even after calibration
  • Superb black levels
  • Great “out of the box” picture
  • Dual 4K HDMI 2.1 (18Gbps) HDMI inputs
  • Dual 4K DisplayPort inputs
  • Compatible with HDR10 and HLG
  • Excellent 4K upscaling
  • Excellent placement flexibility with motorized lens features, including:
    • 1.95:1 zoom lens (VPLL-Z8014 Lens)
    • Lots of lens shift (vertical and horizontal)
    • Optional short-throw ARC-F lens available (VPLL-Z8008)
  • Low input lag – claimed 27ms on 4K (37ms measured @1080p)
  • 3-year parts/labor warranty

CONS

  • Ultra premium price out of the reach of most customers
  • Not the best black levels (but close, very close)
  • Larger and heavier than many home theater projectors
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