I awaited this unit just as eagerly as I did earlier top-of-the-line designs from the venerable electronics giant — the VPH G90U CRT-based model sometimes referred to as “projector of the gods” and more recently the Qualia 004, the first in a long line of 1920 x 1080 SXRD projectors from Sony.
On this occasion, one of our favorite clients called to request a replacement bulb for an 004 we installed in 2005.
Considering Sony had just introduced their new 4K-capable VW5000ES, I suggested updating the projector instead of replacing the $3000 Xenon bulb in his now-elderly 004.
Not surprisingly, the $60,000 price tag on the 5000ES significantly lowered his enthusiasm for the upgrade path.
Not to be deterred, I followed up with our local Sony rep Kevin Olstad to determine the 5000ES's availability. When the Qualia 004 came up during our discussion Kevin immediately recommended taking advantage of Sony's new loyalty program for existing Qualia owners.
A $15,000 trade-in allowance was being offered towards the purchase of a VPL VW5000ES to any verified Qualia 004 owner! Our client jumped at this generous offer from Sony.
It wasn't long before my colleagues Brady Alshouse, Paul Dooley and I were heading to our client's home with a new VPL VW5000ES along with a Lumagen Radiance Pro video processor in tow.
Fortunately the throw distances on the existing Qualia and the new 5000ES were close enough that the existing mount location was appropriate for the 5000ES to properly fill the surface of the existing 125-inch Screen Research acoustically transparent motorized screen.
It took all three of us to hold the 115-pound projector in place while attaching it to the existing 200-pound-capable Auton lift.
Our 4K Ecosystem
A new 50-foot Ethereal passive HDMI cable was pulled through an existing conduit to the equipment rack.
The Lumagen Radiance Pro's output is 3840 x 2160 at 60hz, pushing the required bandwidth to as high as 18 gigabits, a level which would stretch the capabilities of most HDMI cabling. So, following the recommendation of Jim Peterson at Lumagen we added an HDM-GA1 Gigabit Accelerator from Ethereal to boost/correct the signal just before connection to the projector.
The HDM-GA1 warranties the signal will make it to the projector intact and it worked flawlessly.
As soon as we turned the projector on we knew the 5000-lumen output from the VW5000ES alone was going to provide a much more compelling image than the 2000-lumen Qualia 004 had provided.
With a 0.9-gain acoustically transparent screen the 2.5x output increase really made things come alive in comparison.
During initial testing we noticed the convergence of the red, green and blue SXRD panels was slightly off out of the box. We were able to use the multipoint (lots of points!) convergence adjustment built into the projector to realign everything nicely.
The calibration process was next on the agenda.
In combination with a Lumagen Radiance Pro video processor, Spectracal's Calman calibration software allows for a fully automated adjustment of grayscale, gamma and a 17 x 17 x 17 3D LUT (Look Up Table) color point calibration.
Although automated, this type of calibration takes quite a bit of time to set up for best results. Our calibrations include one meter for reference and another for measuring.
The post-calibration results produced the best images we have ever seen during a Supercalibrations installation — excellent deep blacks, lots of contrast and beautiful accurate color!
4K nature videos from Youtube were super realistic, while standard HD material took on new life as well. For example, Velocity, my favorite car-repair channel on DirecTV, looked fabulous.
A Great 'Value' at $60K
I can recall setting up projectors 30 years ago and making sure to sit back far enough to keep from seeing the structure of the 300,000-pixel image.
Now with 8 million pixels you want bigger screens and closer seating.
The Sony VPL VW5000ES is a very exciting product and might be described as high value even at $60k. It bodes well for the same technology to drift down into more reasonable price points.