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Sony VPL-VZ1000 – true 4K HDR home theatre ultra-short throw projector

If you want a picture that's up to 120” 4K and HDR, then a projector system is usually the best option. Sony’s new VPL-VZ1000 ticks a lot of boxes for the ultimate home theatre experience.

Let’s address the elephants in the room first.

  • What does it cost? A tad under $31,000 but similar sized TVs costs a lot more
  • Does it need a special screen? Yes, if you have higher ambient or reflected light from windows then invest in a Screen Innovations Short Throw (ST) screen – not much change from $10,000.
  • Does it look as good as the best LED or OLED TV? There is a difference between TV panels that emit light and projection that reflects light. Under the right circumstances, a properly designed home theatre can give similar colour temperatures, gamma and white balance.

At a Sony press briefing, under less than ideal lighting conditions, the VPL-VZ1000ES showed brilliant, crisp, well balanced and even colours with 4K HDR Blu-ray and 4K PlayStation content.

Brad Hanrahan, Sony’s group manager, Business & Institutional, Sony Professional Solutions, said, “Our new ultra-short throw laser projector delivers incredible native 4K HDR imagery when placed just inches away from your wall. The new VPL-VZ1000ES does not need a dedicated, darkened home theatre to provide 120-inch in your existing living space. Put simply, this projector can replace any TV and give you a better viewing experience.”

While the writer, who has reviewed many 4K UHD TVs, would challenge Hanrahan’s assertion that it can “replace any TV and give you a better viewing experience”, he is not far from the truth. It does depend on the set-up – thrown into a room without the right lighting or screen it does not match the best TV. In a proper home theatre set-up, and of course with the budget to fit it out with the right lighting and furnishings, Hanrahan can make that claim.

A lot of technology used in Sony’s 4K TVs has flowed over to this – HDR (high dynamic range), HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma), Triluminous extended colour gamut, Motionflow, 3D capable (1920 x 1080), 4K 60p, HDCP 2.2, auto calibration of white balance, and 12 years of 4K devices and four years of laser projectors.

It uses a laser light source for about 20,000 hours of use – that is about 10-13 years of typical use. Lasers don’t require bulb changes and produce 2500 lumen with an infinite contrast range (like OLED).

The laser light is focused on four SXRD native 4K panels to produce 26,542,080 pixels (4096 x 2160) in a 17:9 format (cinema standard – excess pixels for 16:9 projection are trimmed back to 3840 x 2160).

It is an ultra-short throw meaning it can be placed in front of, and above, or below, the screen at a distance of from 10 to 12 inches or it can rear project. Lens focus, zoom and shift are powered but lens shift (to line up the image on the screen) is limited to +/-6°vertical and +/-3° horizontal – you will need to place it properly and there are custom cabinet makers that can do this.

It has good connectivity – 4 x HDMI (including ARC for a sound bar or AV receiver), RJ-45 Ethernet, IR in, USB 1.0 (for firmware – not content) and remote control via an RS-232, 9-pin D-sub. It has no sound output except via HDMI. Nor does it have a TV tuner – there are Freeview Plus boxes, Foxtel and media centres for this.

It is large: 925 mm × 218.5 mm × 493.8 mm and weighs 35+kg.

Sony VZ1000 top

Sony VZ1000 back

It is designed for the TV-aholic who is prepared to spend to get maximum size. But its specifications are such that it would be good for schools, business, and more that want size and the benefits of ultra-short throw in smaller rooms.

If you don’t need this then it has a range of front projection VPL-VW5000 series that use similar technology and have up to 5000 lumens for use in theatres, planetariums, lecture halls etc.

Sony sells these via accredited home theatre suppliers in most capital cities.

There is an independent video review below.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!