REVIEW: SONY VPL-VW270ES 4K PROJECTOR
At one-dollar shy of $8K, the VPL-VW270ES doesn’t exactly fall into the budget-end of the projector market, but it’s still far less of a stretch than any of Sony’s other 4K projectors. How does it stack up?
VPL-VW270ES 4K Projector
(AUD) $7,999 / (NZD) $8,999 RRP
Do you know the hardest part of this whole review gig? It’s not the writing, nor is it staying up at night putting AV gear through its paces. Like a lot of you, I’m an AV geek, so I love doing that stuff. I consider myself very lucky to be doing it.
No, the hardest part of my job at times is giving the stuff back! Most manufacturers are usually quite understanding and know you need some time to put gear through its paces, but there’s only so long you can ignore the persistent emails, phone calls and knocks at the door. Sooner or later, it needs to go back.
The Sony VPL-VW760ES that I reviewed a year ago was a perfect example. At the time I awarded it a 'Best In Class' award, which in my opinion, still stands today. The only caveat being the newly released Sony VPL-VW870ES might knock it off its rather lofty perch, albeit at a higher price-point again.
So, I must admit that I was more than a little excited when Sony released its $7,999 VPL-VW260ES in 2017. While I didn’t jump ship straight away, the 2018 release of the VPL-VW270ES made me consider that it was time to upgrade my aging 1080p projector.
At one-dollar shy of $8K, the VPL-VW270ES doesn’t exactly fall into the budget-end of the projector market, but it’s still far less of a stretch than any of Sony’s other 4K projectors. And the best part? It shares the same cinema heritage as Sony's more expensive 4K projectors.
That means it sports the same true 4K resolution of 4096x 2160 as the VPL-VW760ES as opposed to the more common 3,840 x 2160 resolution used in 4K televisions. In reality, the small increase in resolution isn’t going to make much difference, and 4K Blu-ray is 3,840 x 2160, but still, there’s no denying this is “true 4K.”
It also means there’s no pixel shifting or visual wizardry used to create ‘pseudo 4K’ with the VPL-VW270ES sporting three SXRD chips each with a native resolution of 4096 x 2160.
Of course, coming in roughly $15,000 cheaper than the VPL-VW760ES, there has to be some comprises.
The biggest of these is the light source. The VPL-VW270ES uses a lamp, rather than a laser. Naturally, this is going to mean a drop in light output and black levels which aren’t quite up to the same lofty standards of the 760.
It also means there’s no dynamic iris. While you don’t need to step up to the VPL-VW760ES to get a dynamic iris, you do still need to shell out another $4,000 for the VPL-VW570ES at $11,999.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX?
Sony has quoted the VPL-VW270ES lamp life as up to 6,000 hours in low lamp mode. Sony has stated the 270 is capable of producing 1,500 lumens in high lamp mode. However, it will drop with use.
A significant improvement over the outgoing VPL-VW260ES is two HDMI HDCP 2.2 ports that offer a full 18Gb workflow (4K, 60p 10-bit signal processing). Sony has also made improvements to their Reality Creation and Motion Flow processing, the latter of which is now available with 4K signals.
With the new implemented 18Gb workflow, the VPL-VW270ES will accept virtually any signal you care to throw it, assuming, of course, your HDMI cable's capability. The 270ES does incorporate a low latency mode for gamers, however, as it bypasses much of the image enhancement circuitry, avoid it when watching movies.
While the VPL-VW270EES is smaller than its more expensive siblings, it sports an otherwise identical chassis. However, coming in at 496 (W) x 205 (H) x 464 (D) it’s not a small projector by any means. Available in either black or white, the 270ES features a matt finish, except for the front of the projector, which is finished in high gloss.
The VPL-VW270ES has a centrally mounted lens and forward-facing grills. It also has a powered lens control, meaning the projector’s focus, zoom and horizontal/vertical left shift can be conveniently adjusted directly from the remote.
All of the connections are on the side of the projector, with 2 x HDCP 2.2 HDMI inputs, 1 x Ethernet port, 2 x 12-volt triggers, 1 x IR input, an RS232 port and a single USB input.
Except for the lack of dedicated lens control buttons (lens control is accessed via the ‘pattern’ button), the VPL-VW270ES remote is otherwise identical to the remote that comes with VPL-VW760ES. And for that matter, every other projector in the Sony range.
The remote is simple enough to use, with all of the 270S' needed functions easily accessible. It’s also backlit. However, you will need to press a button to activate the remote’s backlight.
The VPL-VW270ES is a 3D projector. However, glasses are not included and must be purchased separately.
Many 4k projectors are physically larger than their 1080p counterparts which can present challenges when it comes to installation. Rather than making their projectors 'longer' in size, Sony has wisely opted to make their projector ‘wider’.
Replacing my 1080p projector with the VPL-VW270ES which was located close to the back wall in our somewhat ‘cozy’ home theatre, I soon came to appreciate this design choice.
There’s also a fair bit of versatility thanks to both the throw ratio (the VPL-VW270ES can fill a 100” screen from 2.54 meters) and lens shift controls, which provide a vertical shift of +85% -80% and horizontal shift of +/-31%. This is very welcome news to those who like me, have a home theatre space which is on the smaller side.
Apart from the sheer convenience of a powered lens control, it’s also possible to achieve a far higher level of precision over a manual lens control. You won’t find any keystone correction on board the 270, and that’s a good thing, as it’s neither needed- given the flexibility of the projector- nor recommended, given the detrimental effect it has on picture quality.
The VPL-VW270ES has three SXRD chips, so to get the sharpest image possible, the panel alignment process should also be completed. Once again, there’s a fair level of flexibility here, with the 270ES offering both ‘whole picture’ alignment and ‘zone by zone’ alignment.
When it comes to judging the picture quality of either a television or projector, the impact of incorrect picture settings cannot be underestimated. For this reason, every display we review at StereoNET is ISF Calibrated before we make any judgements regarding picture quality.
All measurements of the Sony VPL-VW270ES were completed with an xrite i1Pro 2 spectroradiometer and x-rite i1 display Pro colourimeter (profiled with the i1Pro 2). The meters were tripod mounted, enabling measurements to be taken directly from the screen (Severtson 100” fixed CineGray screen).
Colour, Gamma, Grayscale and Luminance measurements were taken using 10% window patterns. Meter integration times were measured, and final readings taken from a mean of two readings to reduce anomalies.
At the time measurement, the review VPL-VW270ES had approximately 192 hours on its lamp.
Two viewing modes were set up, one for HD/SDR viewing and the other for 4K/HDR viewing.
Using Reference mode as the basis for HD/SDR calibration, the Sony VPL-VW270ES produced 68 nits after calibration. Switching to high lamp mode pushed this to 97 nits, however as the main listening/viewing position is located directly below the projector, fan noise was found to be too loud with the lamp set to high mode.
After calibration in Reference mode, the VPL-VW270ES delivered a very high level of accuracy to the Rec. 709 colour gamut (HD/SDR Blu-ray). A 24-point gamut sweep showed excellent colour accuracy before calibration. However, the level of colour accuracy was able to further improved upon with the VPL-VW270ES colour management system, delivering a mean dE of 2 and the highest dE of 3.8.
Likewise, the two-point greyscale controls yielded excellent greyscale tracking after calibration, with the highest dE of 2.2 recorded at 60% IRE. Post-calibration gamma tracking averaged 2.3.
Using Cinema 2 mode as the basis for 4K/HDR calibration, greyscale tracking was also accurate with all dE values all below 3, except the often difficult 10% point, which yielded a final error of 6.44 dE.
The VPL-VW270ES achieved 107.3% or Rec 709, 79.1% of DCI-P3 and 56.8% of the Rec 2020 colour gamuts. Measurements were taken in high lamp mode.
While the VPL-VW270ES produced good colour reproduction out of the box, it was able to be improved upon again with calibration.
I’ve viewed Billy Lyn’s Long Halftime Walk on many projectors, and as far as image quality goes, I don’t think you’re going to find much better. Granted, a title of this quality is going to look great on any display but watched on a competent projector or television the results are just breath-taking.
As I’ve come to expect from Sony, images were razor sharp and rock solid. However, to take advantage of all the resolution the Sony has to offer, you’re going to want to match Sony’s VPL-VW270ES to a bigger screen than the 100” screen that I viewed it on — noting of course, that a bigger screen will result in an overall drop to light output.
The black level performance was solid; however, unsurprisingly the VPL-VW270ES couldn’t produce the deep dark blacks of the more expensive VPL-VW760ES. Nor could it produce the same black levels that I’ve seen from some of JVC’s pixels shifters at similar price-points. However, that margin seems to be getting smaller every year, with the 270ES offering a slight improvement over the outgoing VPL-VW260ES.
Good black levels combined with excellent gamma tracking gave images a good sense of pop and often an almost tangible sense of depth. The 270’s excellent post-calibration gamma tracking can ‘open-up’ the details within a scene.
One of the assets of this projector is its extremely accurate colour tracking. Colour reproduction is just beautiful on the Sony, with flesh tones being amongst the most convincing I have seen from any display.
Switching to the now familiar Mad Max Fury Road, the VPL-VW270ES produced a broader range of colours than its SDR counterpart. Granted, the 270 can’t produce the full range of colour which the UHD version of this disc has to offer. Nonetheless, it does give the picture that ‘little bit extra’.
Switching to Blu-ray, the VPL-VW270ES breathed new life into any title I cared to send its way, reminding me that my library of Blu-ray titles still has plenty of life. While the extra resolution helps, it’s also the combination of excellent greyscale, gamma, colour reproduction and black levels which come together to create gorgeous images.
The Sony VPL-VW270ES motion controls are a ‘cut-down’ version of those found upon the VPL-VW760ES. The 270 offers two choices in regards to motion, which are ‘True Cinema’ and ‘Smooth Low’.
If you want movies played back exactly as its creators intended, without any frame interpolation, True Cinema is your best bet. However, if you find 24fp Blu-ray, a little ‘juddery’ set the Motion Flow control to ‘Smooth Low’.
Unsurprisingly ‘Smooth Low’ does introduce some SOE (soap opera effect); however, it’s minimal.
While the VPL-VW270ES has decent black levels, it certainly doesn’t offer the last word in black level performance. If this is a crucial requirement for you, it’s worth taking a look at the VPL-VW570ES with its dynamic iris, or even the VPL-VW760ES if the budget allows.
Where the VPL-VW270ES shines is with its excellent colour reproduction, gamma tracking and resolution. Images are solid with a sense of depth and pop. The Sony VPL-VW270ES produces gorgeous images with a high level of colour accuracy.
If watching movies exactly as its creator intended is important to you (and if you love your films it should be), I highly recommend that you give this projector strong consideration.
Sony has produced a ripper of a projector with the VPL-VW270ES. It achieves a price to performance ratio that’s going to strike a chord with many consumers, myself included. So much so, that I purchased the VPL-VW270ES back in December at its launch.
I can’t think of a recommendation that comes much higher than that!
For more information visit Sony.
As the owner of Adelaide based ‘Clarity Audio & Video Calibration’, Tony is a certified ISF Calibrator. Tony is an accomplished Audio-Visual reviewer specialising in theatre and visual products.
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