Sony VPL-VW520ES review | What Hi-Fi?

We know what you’re considering: what does a projector need to do to justify a near-£9k ticket? You may just purchase a brand new car for that. Well, Sony has accomplished some second-guessing and, in consequence, given its top-tiering VPL-VW520ES the whole lot you may (realistically) want from a 2016 projector.

That way it’s native 4K (of course!) like its predecessor, the VPL-VW500ES, and the five-star VPL-VW300ES we saw ultimate summer season. Sony’s proprietary SXRD device, which uniquely makes use of LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) generation – almost a pass between the usual DLP and LCD technologies – is still the only one these days providing native 4K playback, with competitors JVC and Epson simplest venturing as far as ‘faux-Ok’ projection.

But some distance from resting on its resolution-pushing laurels, Sony has upstaged itself in a manner during which Steve Jobs would approve, by way of making the VPL-VW520ES the world’s first HDR-ready 4K house cinema projector. It might as effectively have a large police tape-like banner across the front announcing ‘future-proofed’. After all, 4K and HDR are the immediate destiny of the AV world, and just about ready to take centre level in a lounge near you.

MORE: Everything you need to know about 4K

Build and design

It’s the HDR give a boost to that sets the Sony excluding its sibling, the VPL-VW30ES, as does a greater brightness output (the 520ES has 1800 lumens quite than the 320ES’s 1500).

HDR can also be carried via the second one of the Sony’s two HDMI inputs, which is HDCP 2.2 qualified to go through streamed and bodily 4K content from video streaming services and products like Netflix and Amazon or imminent Ultra HD blu-ray players.

And if that doesn’t have you ever drooling over the web page maybe a 300,000:1 distinction ratio will – up once more from its predecessor’s 200,000:1. Sony additionally claims an impressive 6000-hour lamp life.

The VPL-VW520ES makes use of three local 4K SXRD panels with a 4096 x 2160 decision, as per the 4K movie projection standard and much like a industrial 4K cinema. They is probably not the digits you’ve clocked on TV advertisements, however that’s since the panel industry shoehorns it into 3840 x 2160.

MORE: HDR TV: What is it? How can you get it?

You get a lot of projector for your cash – 14kg of it, in fact. It’s a cumbersome, well-made unit, but like its predecessors runs with the classy curve to lend a hand it look more suitable to slot in with your house furnishings than something chances are you'll think had a past existence as a Robot Wars contestant.

In fact, it doesn’t glance too dissimilar from the logo’s five-figure flagship fashion, which will handiest be a just right factor. The finish (available in white and black) is attractive, and the gold frills around the lens convey a slightly of pizzazz.


Set-up is useless simple, and once powered up (it takes a few seconds to turn an image), it’s merely a case of the use of the motorised shift, center of attention and (as much as 2.1x) zoom adjustments on the well-sized, backlit-on-demand faraway – much more efficient, we think, than twisting dials on devices with non-powered lenses. Plus, you can do it from your settee.

Keeping the 2 HDMIs company at the aspect panel are LAN, IR and trigger inputs and a USB for firmware updates.

Taking a page out of the Victorian schoolbook, the VPL-VW520ES understands its accountability to be noticed and no longer heard. The claimed 26dB fan noise proves lovely accurate and, even sitting shut by means of, it's simple to forget about altogether when we fan the flames of our reference home cinema set-up.


HDR 4K material is being hailed as the major next-gen content, and whilst 4K and HDR are different applied sciences, they do appear to come packaged in combination. Combined content material remains to be skinny at the floor, although more must come trickling on this year. Even more exciting, Ultra HD blu-ray avid gamers and discs are due in the coming months too.

While 4K is all about delivering extra pixels, HDR is all about extracting additional information from inside of each and every pixel, opening the dynamic distinction range up to brighter whites, darker blacks and larger color perception in between. And, agree with us, it’s an excellent indicator as to the way forward for house cinema. We tuck into 4K HDR clips equipped by Sony, on a USB stick fed throughout the Sony FMP-X5 4K media player, probably the most eye boggling of which incorporates footage from The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

There’s varying intensities to the voltage operating down Electro’s face and the lighting in Times Square’s billboards and skyscrapers. You can observe the billowing smoke from the electric sparks as it trails off into the ambience and, all through the slow-mo, every sew of Spidey’s sleeve.

Even Japanese cityscapes are a treat to scrutinise. Take a vibrant mosaic lampshade, as an example. Rather than just seeing mild glow through the whole lampshade, right here each and every piece finds various levels of light shining through.

MORE: Ultra HD Blu-ray prices revealed as first discs go on sale

Strip the HDR, and 4K supply alone is still sufficient to turn heads. The technology has spread into the TV business like wildfire, however arguably it’s even more necessary for greater projected footage the place you’ll see simply how a lot the ones 8.3million pixels rely.

We see a sharply drawn image no much less crisp than that on the higher 4K TV footage we’ve observed. It in point of fact wows on our 100in display with its sharpness, accuracy and precision – however it’s not love in the beginning sight.

You may think our claim of the Sony’s delicate, herbal colours is suspect upon your first acquaintance with the projector. Indeed, out of the field they’re more ‘out there’ and oversaturated than organic. But with the trusty steerage of a THX Optimizer and a little of endurance, a radical play with picture settings produces a calibre of image we predict befits the asking worth. And making an allowance for what this is, that’s in reality saying one thing.

Spending time tweaking colour hues and experimenting with contrast modes can pay off royally, so when we take a look at the effects on The Ridiculous 6, barren region landscapes now not glance too richly hued. In truth, that spot-on palette coupled with gritty texture and wide-open perception supplies a realism that’ll quickly have you reaching for a tumbler of water.

The browns and goldens of the Wild West jump out from one every other, all subtly identifiable as other in tone. The darks of bushes don’t compromise the bleach-white outfits status in front of them, and the brightness of a campfire doesn’t sacrifice dark details in the characters sitting round it.

It’s up there with certainly one of maximum complete projected footage we’ve observed, and we aren’t just talking about 4K efficiency. Those whose viewing behavior lie most commonly with Blu-ray, HD streams and DVD (which is more or less everybody) may have each reason to speculate here too.

Taking a decision knock to fulfill your Fargo habit isn’t so dangerous. The HD image sheds a layer of sharpness, losing its immaculate feel, but it’s nonetheless a precise, mature display. Colour and contrast stay at the cash – the snow as white as car tyres are black – and detail spreads evenly across the display so textures in jumpers are as astute as details in the characters’ faces.

MORE: best projectors 2016

Motion dealing with doesn’t have us achieving for menu assistance (in the Sony’s case the ‘Motionflow’ mode), although any individual having hassle will have to find a remedy within the ‘clean high’ surroundings.

A common bugbear of the very first 4K TVs was the substandard quality of standard-def – in any case, they've to upscale an enormous amount to fill the display. Visually, you notice that outlines have softened up and freshness is misplaced.

Not even a near-£9000 projector can make standard-definition content material glance sparkling. We wouldn’t move so far as pronouncing skyline panoramas in our Robocop DVD are crisp or the expressions of other folks in the background are well-etched. But the readability exceeds our expectations and it’s a remarkable effort – one who rubs shoulders with the most efficient we’ve noticed from a 4K small screen television.

Compared with Blu-rays, more movement instability is noticeable as camera pans throughout foyers in comparison to with Blu-rays, but the picture remains sufficiently coherent in motion scenes. By and massive, it’s greater than watchable.

MORE: Best 4K TVs 2016


When an £8800 3-d-compatible projector doesn’t include any Three-D glasses, even though, it’s a little like breaking the financial institution for a paintball consultation after which being charged further for pellets. Okay, so glasses are pretty affordable at the moment for individuals who benefit from the 3D film revel in, but it’s the principle…

That said, when that’s our only gripe, we will’t help however sing the Sony VPL-VW520ES’ praises. It’s a beast of a performer with anything you throw at it and, nowadays, one of the most cutting-edge, future-proofed home cinema projectors money should buy.

If it’s inside your seize financially, and also you’re all about the here-and-now moderately than waiting to see what competition reply with (because certainly they’ll be hot on Sony’s heels) – and in case you’re all for the advantages of HDR era – we’d be hard-pushed to recommend anything else.

Good process, Sony.

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