The Sony VPL-VW550ES represents a ‘sweet spot’ in Sony’s lineup of excellent 4k Projectors; featuring outstanding specifications for the price.
4K has gained traction breaking into the domestic market, over the last couple of years, no doubt helped by the price of 4k TV sets dropping dramatically over 2014/2015. An increasing choice of genuine 4k sources has also bolstered adoption; UHD Blu-Ray delivers the highest domestic video quality yet, whilst Youtube & Vimeo both support 4k resolution.
The *true* way to appreciate all those extra pixels and detail, however, is when they’re projected onto a screen, giving the full cinema experience. If you’ve been to a cinema recently, chances are it was a 4k, Digital Cinema Initiatives specification projector you were watching.
Now, it’s truly possible to have a DCI spec, 4k projector in your living room providing *true* cinema specification projection quality in the comfort of your own home. Let’s take a look at the Sony VPL-VW550ES, and see how it brings the cinema home… minus the overpriced popcorn, thanks!
Sony VPL-VW550ES – The Sweet Spot Projector
Here at The Audio Affair Blog, you’ll hear us refer to the concept of ‘The Sweet Spot’ on a regular basis. It’s a term we like to give to products which give the most ‘Bang for Buck’ within a product line-up. The Sony VPL-VW550ES is certainly a ‘Sweet Spot’ product, sitting as it does between the VPL-VW320ES at £6,435, and the VPL-VW1100ES at £20,895.
The Sony VPL-VW550ES is priced at £9,895 and offers a much higher specification than the VPL-VW320ES for a relatively small additional outlay. Whilst Sony doesn’t quote a dynamic contrast ratio for the VPL-VW320ES, the Sony VPL-VW550ES serves up an excellent 350,000:1 dcr; ensuring deep blacks and brilliant highlights.
Likewise, the VPL-VW320ES offers 1500 lumens output versus the brighter VPL-VW550ES at 1800 lumens. The VPL-VW320ES also lacks the HDR support of its bigger brother the VPL-VW550ES.
To gain a noticeable improvement over The Sony VPL-VW550ES one would need to spend over £10k more on the flagship VPL-VW1100ES. Whilst it offers a remarkable 1,000,000:1 Dynamic Contrast Ratio, and 1800 Lumens output, those benefits come at a substantial price. In contrast, The Sony VPL-VW550ES appears something of a bargain…
Cinema Performance – Domestic Convenience
Sony’s designers have clearly put some forethought into the Sony VPL-VW550ES projector, recognising that its position as something of a ‘Prosumer’ product, means that all that performance must integrate smoothly with a domestic situation.
It will come as a relief then, that critical lens adjustments such as zoom, focus and lens shift, can be achieved from the comfort of your seat, as they’re electrically controlled from the Sony VPL-VW550ES remote control.
Zoom Lens settings can be stored in 5 memory slots, ideal for optimising viewing between 4:3 and 16:9 sources, for example. Auto calibration ensures the best possible picture, whilst preset picture modes, including a custom, user configurable preset, allow quick adjustment of picture settings. Add these features together, and it makes for quick optimisation of any video source.
Two HDMI 2.0 connections are provided, which are thankfully fully HDCP 2.2 compatible, allowing for pass-through of 4k and HDR signals. Additionally, LAN, PC and USB inputs are provided, bolstering the Sony VPL-VW550ES usability and functionality.
The Sony VPL-VW550ES utilises Sony’s proprietary SXRD technology; SXRD is a hybrid of DLP and LCD technology which works by light from the projector lamp, shining onto a reflective mirrored surface topped by a layer of liquid crystal, which twists to let the required light through.
If you’re looking to bring 4k resolution into your home, and are looking for the full cinema experience, there can be little doubt that the Sony VPL-VW550ES 4k projector represents a solid choice.