SONY VPLVW365ES Projector REVIEW

PROS

– This is a true 4K HDR projector
– Outstanding picture quality
– Dark blacks and clear light output
– Has excellent color accuracy
– Very quiet in operation

CONS

– The price – but this is 4K remember!

Lumens

1,500 Lumens

Projector Resolution

Native 4K

Contrast Ratio

300,000:1

Image Aspect Ratio

17:9

Updated June 2017: The Sony VPL-VW365ES projector offers a lot of flexibility and great image quality in an attractive package.

It has good picture quality and video processing capabilities, is quiet, and looks sleek and modern. This is the newer version of the previous SONY VPLVW350ES (Who comes up with these names!)

Design

This projector looks almost as good as the images it projects. It is a symmetrical, simple shape with a distinctive rounded edge and a pleasing bow at the front and rear. The casing is a matte charcoal gray with an understated texture – it will blend in nicely in your “home cinema” room, not sticking out once you dim the lights. The glossy black around the lens looks good too.  Like any projector, it has vents around the lens, and a thin iris of silver, which makes the projector look like it has “an eye”. There are a few controls mounted on the left hand side, and the inputs are on the right, at the bottom of the body. 

This is quite a beefy looking device – just over 21 inches wide and almost 13 inches tall, and around 25 inches deep. However it is relatively light at just 10lbs, so mounting should not present a problem.  

It is designed to be easy to operate, with rockers and dedicated keys for most of the features that you are going to want to access on the fly, and a handy remote too. In terms of usability, it has some simple, logical menus with clear options. There isn’t a lot in terms of on-screen help – but it is safe to assume that if you’re spending this amount of money on a projector you have an idea of what you’re doing already – and there is a manual included that you could refer to if you wanted. 

Features

The projector has active 3D technology support – so you can watch 3D movies if you wish (although you will need to buy the 3D glasses separately). There are two different kinds of 3D – active and passive – and active 3D tends to offer the better experience, giving higher image quality if you have the right kind of glasses.

It supports 4K natively, but you can also upscale 1080p content using what Sony calls its “Reality Creation” system.

The projector has a lumens rating of 1,500, which means that it produces nice bright, clear colors. It has a zoom and focus feature, and you can expect to get 6,000 hours out of it before you need to replace the lamp.

The projector uses “Triluminos” display technology which Sony claims will accurately reproduce a much broader range of color than any standard projector.

If you’re familiar with the other projectors in Sony’s range, you might have noticed that this is quite similar to the VPL-VW675ES – which is a higher-end, and significantly much more expensive projector. The main difference in it is that the iris is slightly less sophisticated, so you lose some contrast. 

The VW365ES has a native resolution of 4096x2160 – which is true, native 4K – unlike the 3840x2160 that many TVs have. This means that you get the true cinematic experience of 17:9 aspect ratio. If you try to watch content that is recorded in 3,840x2,160, then it will be scaled properly so you don’t lose any sharpness as long as you are using the default aspect ratio setting.

There is a built in RF emitter, which will allow you to use active 3D glasses, but you will need to pay extra for the glasses. Any standard model of active-3D glasses that works with the full-HD 3D standard will work with the emitter, so you don’t need to purchase expensive ones, and it’s easy to get up and running.

HDR is now coming to the fore as an important feature for any Home Cinema system and purchases of the VPL-VW365ES won’t be disappointed.

Setup

It’s easy to get up and running with the projector. It has adjustable legs, and a decent set of zoom, focus and lens-shift options that will let you set it up to focus anywhere, even if you’re having to mount it on an awkward ceiling. It shouldn’t take long to get a nice clear and sharp image, regardless of where you’re mounting it.

The picture settings are quite simple. There are nine modes available and two different inputs that you can use. The Reality Creation Processing Adjustment offers a ‘test’ option that lets you switch between an image that is raw and unprocessed, and one that has been put through whatever “Resolution” and “Noise Filtering” options you set with the sliders. This means that you can get instant feedback as to whether the settings are actually working.

If you’re using a 4K source, there’s not really any need to use the Reality Creation feature, but when you’re trying to make the best out of some lower-quality sources, it’s a nice option to have. There are some motion-handling features too, in the form of MotionFlow, which will give you better results for ‘authenticity’ whether you’re watching a film, a soap operat, or sports.

The Contrast Enhancer feature is just a processing feature on this model, because the VW365ES doesn’t have the same mechanical Iris as the 675 version, but it’s still useful. There are two lamp settings (high and low), and even the low setting is fine for most small rooms of the type that the average person is likely to have at home. If you’re buying this projector for a workplace, and expect that it will have to cope with a bit of ambient light, then the higher lamp output might be useful.

There is a choice of four different color temperature presets, and you can save one of five different custom options too. These settings are quite restrictive, though. The color management system works well, however, and is a nice feature for people who like to tweak those settings for different types of viewing.

There are two HDMI inputs, and these can handle 4K at 60FPS, but only one of the inputs has full HDCP 2.2. – so you will need to use that input if you’re using a 4K media player that requires it. For watching 1080p in 3D, though, either input will do the job.

Bear in mind, however, that while right now HDMI 2.0 is the ‘industry standard’, over the next few years any new 4K blu-ray players will likely require HDCP 2.2. This means that you could find yourself restricted in what you can use – but at least the player has one input that supports it, so you won’t end up with something obsolete.

It is a little frustrating that there is no analog video input or RGB PC input – so you can’t plug much older players in, but this is not really that big of a deal. There is an Ethernet and Lan port, but this isn’t for you to stream video over – it’s just for controlling the projector. There is a USB port too – but again, you can’t plug in a memory stick and watch a video – this port is just for use for installing updates.

Videos that were natively in 4K look stunning, and 4K/60 (60 frames per second) is immediately clear in terms of smoothness of motion, and vibrant colors. When you’re looking at 1080p content, if you’re sitting close to the projection you can see the pixels – but at greater viewing distances the pixels aren’t visible. Color quality looks just as good for 4K and for 1080p – but you can spot differences in black level and contrast. 

It’s unfair to judge the quality of the projector based on the difference in quality of various pieces of source material, however – because a bad source is always going to look bad, no matter what it is viewed on. However, the projector does really highlight the best sources – at the expense of also highlighting the worst sources, sadly.

It is possible to use the projector to play games on the big screen if your PC has the appropriate output, and it is also possible to stream some 4K content from sources such as Netflix, although you will need a very high speed internet connection for this. Do bear in mind, however, that if you plan to game using a projector there could be some input lag – and while this isn’t going to be an issue for single player games or some strategy games, playing a competitive online FPS with input lag will be a frustrating experience. There is a lag reduction feature, and it appears to perform well with 1080p content, but testing it with games is another matter.

Performance

  • This is a great projector for anyone looking to get into 4K viewing, but who is put off by the price-tag of some of the higher end projectors. It offers good picture quality, and it is easy to set up, and quiet when it is in use too.

  • There are some nice features on the higher-end models that this is lacking, but they aren’t things that the average person is going to care about for a home cinema, and this can do the job pretty well for an office or school projector as well. If you’re primarily going to be watching 1080p and 4K content, then there are few reasons to pay extra.

  • There areobviously much cheaper 1080p projectors on the market, but if you’re looking at this it’s probably because you want 4K, and you want the perfect viewing experience. While this is an ‘affordable’ projector for a 4K one, it’s still a pretty major purchase – and if you’re pondering it then you will need to make sure that you have the right set up to take full advantage of it. 

  • The projector works great in a dark room, and it works great with 3D Glasses too – so it’s hard to fault it. But if you’re expecting to be able to plug in multiple devices, and take advantage of a huge range of configurations for colors and zoom, you might want to spend more on a higher end model.

Final Verdict – The SONY VPLVW365ES is a stunning example of what 4K HDR projection technology can offer – if you can afford it – get it!