SONY VPL-VW1025ES 4K SXRD LASER PROJECTOR REVIEW - PERFORMANCE

July 2, 2021 / By Project Reviews Staff

COLOR REPRODUCTION

Like all Sony home theater projectors, the VW1025ES delivered an outstanding picture quality right out-of-the-box. The REFERENCE and USER picture presets were less than one hundred degrees off my calibrated white balance target of 6500K. 

For extra brightness and to combat higher ambient light, you can switch to BRIGHT TV or BRIGHT CINEMA. These picture modes are slightly oversaturated with a cooler color temperature, but it may be worth it to cut through a lot of ambient light.

Like other Sony home theater projectors, I would be satisfied with the picture quality of the VW1025ES whether it was calibrated or not. However, I took the time to quickly calibrated the projector’s USER Mode. 

Since your room and screen material has a major impact on the overall picture, I don’t recommend using someone else's calibration adjustments. If your room is brighter/darker or your walls are a different color, copying someone else's results can cause more harm than good. However below are the before and after results of calibration in my room.

Out-of-the-box, the grayscale and color tracking was very good. When measured, the color temperature was very close to my target of 6500K. The VW1025ES grayscale was also great out-of-the-box.  

  • Picture Mode: User
  • Color Temperature: 6525K
  • Color dE: 1.1

I left the COLOR TEMP set to D65 and made some quick adjustments to the 2-point RGB balance to produce very good D65 white balance.

To achieve my gamma target of 2.2 in my room, I set the GAMMA CORRECTION to 2.4. The VW1025ES offers CMS adjustments  which I utilized, but the color tracking was excellent so there isn’t really a need to utilize them.

  • Picture Mode: User
  • Color Temperature: 6525K
  • Color dE: 1.1

Delta E as a measure of grayscale/color accuracy of 3 and under is considered ‘Excellent’ and imperceptible by the human eye. Even before calibration, the VW1025ES had an average dE of around 4 which is very good. Its pre-calibrated measurements were so good that I reset the unit a couple of times just to make sure it wasn’t previously adjusted.

After calibration, the VW1025ES had an average dE of 1.1 which is outstanding. Like most Sony Home Theater projectors, once white balance and color are accurately adjusted for SDR, they will look great for HDR as well.

While there was some improvement to the picture after calibration, the difference was not dramatic. The colors and skin tones looked great the instant I turned the VW1025ES on. Unlike many laser-equipped home theater projectors, I didn’t feel the need to fiddle with the unit's picture adjustments.  Like other Sony home theater projectors, I would be satisfied with the picture quality of the VW325ES whether it was calibrated or not

Would I still pay to have tne VW1025ES professionally calibrated? Yes, if you have already spent $40K on a projector of this caliber, it would be silly not to optimize the unit’s image for your room.

BRIGHTNESS

The Sony VPL-VW1025ES has a rated brightness of 2200 ANSI lumens. I set the projector to BRIGHT TV Mode (the brightest mode) and I took 3-4 readings about 15-20% out from the center of the lens. 

Sony VW1025ES Brightness (Reference mode, Lamp Control High): 2112 Lumens

At wide zoom, Reference Mode.

The VW1025ES measured 2112 lumens which is close to Sony’s rated brightness of 2200 lumens. You will find the VW1025ES more than bright enough for viewing SDR content on a 180” screen or HDR content on a 150” screen in a dark room.

Picture Mode Brightness (default laser power settings)

Color ModeLumens Color Temperature
Cinema Film 117406682K
Cinema Film 216356551K
Reference17756536K
TV176510018K
Photo16325533K
Game15936529K
Bright Cinema20527683K
Bright TV210710198K
User17786531K
Reference Mode (calibrated)17106525K

After SDR calibration, the VW1025ES still produces over 1700 lumens. When calibrating many projectors, you have to sacrifice half of the projector’s rated brightness to produce an accurate image.

Also, when viewing HDR content, the Dynamic HDR Contrast feature did an excellent job maximizing the brightness on the screen. The VW1025ES produced a brighter, more vibrant HDR image than many competitor’s projectors with higher rated/measured brightness.

BLACK LEVEL AND SHADOW DETAIL

While brightness is important, deep, accurate black levels separate a good home theater from a great one. If you compare two projectors with identical brightness, the one that can produce deeper blacks will deliver a higher perceived contrast. 

One of the main reasons to buy a higher-end home theater projector, like the VW1025ES, is much better black levels, resulting in higher contrast. This is really beneficial when watching movies in a darkened theater or in a room with lots of light control.

While I have reviewed several good DLP projectors, none could ever match the black levels and native contrast of a 3 Chip SXRD projector like the Sony VW1025ES.

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Combining the high native contrast of the SXRD panels with the precisely modulated laser light output and a dynamic iris resulted in outstanding black levels. The VW1025ES delivered some of the best black levels that I have experienced in my viewing room. 

I did most of my viewing with the DYNAMIC CONTROL set to Limited, which engages laser dimming as well as the dynamic iris. Not only were the blacks nice and deep, but subtle details in the shadows were also clearly visible. 

The VW1025ES rated brightness of 2,200 lumens ensures combined with great black level made images pop, especially in a dark room.

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PICTURE QUALITY

Due to its native 4K SXRD panels, combined with its ARC-F lens, the VW1025ES had no problem delivering sharp, detailed 4K imagery. Most TV shows and live broadcasts are still produced in HD, so good 4K upscaling is still critical. Sony has over a decade of experience when it comes to 4K upscaling, so the VW1025S does an excellent job as expected.

4K HDR content can deliver expanded color space with better highlight and shadow detail, but even the brightest HDR projectors can struggle to reproduce HDR faithfully.

The X1 Processor, combined with the new Dynamic HDR Enhancer, improves HDR reproduction on the VW1025ES. This feature utilizes frame-by-frame HDR tone mapping to deliver respectable full-screen brightness while still displaying a good amount of highlight detail.

Unlike most HDR compatible projectors, I rarely felt a need to make any manual tone mapping adjustments when viewing during HDR. I left the Dynamic HDR Enhancer set to LOW most of the time and only occasionally changed it to HIGH when watching dimly mastered HDR material. Switching the settings to HIGH does increase onscreen brightness at the expense of clipping more bright highlights. You can quickly switch between level with the press of a button on the remote control. 

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Even though the VW1025ES is utilizing frame-by-frame tone mapping, sometimes brighter highlights are ocasaionally clipped. Sony believes this is necessary to keep most of the image on the screen as close to the director’s intent as possible. However, You can also adjust the HDR Contrast setting to restore some of the additional clipped highlight information

The VW1025ES, like all Sony 4K Home Theater projectors, also has an “HDR Reference Mode” located under the HDR menu option. When engaged, the VW1025ES will faithfully track the luminance of HDR content (no tone mapping) until the projector hard clips just like an HDR mastering display. This mode works well on content mastered at 1000 nits or below, but content mastered above that will have a few more clipped highlights.

The VW1025ES could only produce about 90% of DCI-P3 color space but HDR colors still appeared rich and vibrant. Sony home theater projectors like the VW1025ES do not use a color filter to extend their color gamut. While a color filter would increase the VW1025ES’s color gamut coverage, it would also reduce the projector’s brightness. Colors look more saturated when they are brighter. When viewing HDR on a projector, I personally prefer the look of extra brightness over a slightly wider color gamut.

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