Sony VPL-VW570ES Review
No longer the only native 4K in the village, is it the best?
What is the Sony VPL-VW570ES?This is the latest native 4K SXRD projector from Sony and sits in the middle of their range. It replaces the now discontinued VPL-VW360ES and VPL-VW550ES models from 2017 and is joined by the VPL-VW270ES at the entry point while the VPL-VW760ES continues from last year above it and the new VPL-VW870ES slots in as the higher end 2018 model. All three of the new models were announced at IFA 2018 and AVForums also had an early hands-on with the pre-production models. We have a full retail sample here for review, which was provided by Sony Professional.
The price point of £8000 will be expensive to the majority of readers and the target audience for this unit will be the custom install market where it should do some decent volume. Chief amongst the features on offer are the native 4096 x 2160 4K SXRD panels which have had improvements to the panel's reflective silicon layer that should translate to better black level performance. Both HDMI inputs are full bandwidth 18Gbps compatible. The VW570ES features 4K/60p 10-bit image processing, along with input lag reduction, so it should be able to handle all movie and gaming needs. Add to this the advanced iris control and lens memory system for those using scope ratio screens, along with HDR10 and HLG support for high dynamic range images, Wide Colour Gamut support and, with a claimed dynamic contrast of 350,000:1, we have a potentially great home cinema projector in the VW570ES.
So, can it live up to the marketing hype and does it have enough to offer against the new breed of native 4K projectors about to land from JVC? Let’s find out.
Design, Connections and ControlIf you have seen one of the Sony bulb based 4K projectors of the last few years you will instantly recognise the design being used here. It is almost identical to the VW550ES and VW360ES, except that the chassis is a little taller on the new models. The VPL-VW570ES is available in both a black or white finish and is made from hard plastics with a textured finish to the top and sides. The chassis measures in at 496 x 205 x 464 mm (W x H x D) and weighs approximately 14Kg. There is no motorised lens cover and instead, you are provided with a plastic cover that slips on to the lens front when not in use. This might cause some issues if you ceiling mount the VW570.
The high-quality glass lens is centrally mounted in the chassis with a bronze coloured air intake and space between this and the lens to draw in airflow. To the left and right of the lens are exhaust ports and further intakes, with a small power indicator light just above the lens to the right. The front plate is a shiny, gloss style, plastic finish that does show up fingerprints, as does the textured finish to the rest of the body, but in a smudgy way. It is not a projector that has been designed to be portable, it should be installed professionally and, ideally, ceiling mounted or in a hush box. The fact that the air intakes and exhausts are to the front of the chassis means that you can place the rear right up against the back wall of a room to get the most out of the throw ratio.
The top of the projector is free from any controls or inputs with just a Sony and 4K SXRD logo placed on the top of the unit. To the left rear and hidden within a recess is the power input. To the right side of the chassis (looking from the front), are some menu and control buttons, which are placed on the central side portion above a recess, which runs down the entire length of the projector. To the left side, we have the connections that are positioned on the side of the chassis under the recessed area, this helps with cable management when ceiling mounted.
The connections include two 18Gbps HDMI ports that are full bandwidth and are the only video inputs on the projector. The rest of the connections are a LAN port, two 12v triggers, an IR port, RS232C and a USB power socket (it doesn’t accept media files). As mentioned above, the connections are recessed into the chassis to hide them when ceiling mounted and to route cleanly when table mounted.
Overall, the design and build quality is functional and high enough quality to feel premium. Sony is not going to win any design awards for the chassis, which is around four years old now, but it is also not going to stick out in a well designed dedicated cinema room, especially in the black finish.
The VPL-VW570ES remote control is the usual Sony high-end projector model that includes the Focus, Zoom and Shift controls as separate keys, and this varies from the VW270ES remote, which doesn’t have these. To the top are the input, power and light buttons followed by nine direct keys for the picture presets available. Next are the lens controls and then the directional keys, Enter, along with Position, Reset and Menu. There are a further 9 keys for picture attribute controls and finally three rockers at the bottom for contrast, brightness and sharpness. The remote is large but it sits in the hand nicely and can be operated with just one hand and thumb presses as the major keys are centrally positioned. It is made from plastic but has a good weight and is well built. It should last the lifetime of the projector.
Two full bandwidth HDMI inputs are now included on Sony's projectors
Sony VPL-VW570ES Features and SpecsThis is the latest three-chip SXRD (Silicon X-tal Reflective Display) projector from Sony that features a native 4K resolution of 4096 x 2160 and boasts a claimed 1800 lumens brightness from its 280W ultra-high-pressure lamp that also claims 6000hrs of use in Low mode. The SXRD chips have seen improvements made to the panel's reflective silicon layer that should mean even better light control giving blacks and shadows more depth and better contrast. Sony also boasts a dynamic contrast of 350,000:1 with a dynamic iris helping to improve scene-to-scene black levels and contrast performance of the VW570ES.
There are also nine picture presets included which does feel a little excessive as we really only need one set for SDR content and another for HDR and both set to the industry standards. We don’t see the need for any more than that given the industry standards cover almost all content creation including TV, streaming services and films. Even games meet some of these for image quality, but we suppose having a separate games mode with reduced lag is a good thing. There are also full calibration controls available on the VW570ES with a Colour Management System (CMS) and two-point white balance controls. There is also a gamma selector, but no editor to get gamma fully calibrated.
The VPL-VW570ES is also fully compatible with HDR10 and HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) high dynamic range content, but it doesn’t support Dolby Vision or HDR10+ and will not be upgraded to support them either. There are no standards for DV on projectors at this time, so there is no way to support the feature. Plus HDR on a projector is vastly different from that seen on a flat panel TV as the reflective technology involved is not capable of pixel level specular highlights and super deep blacks as it doesn’t possess the dynamic capabilities to do this. However, it is possible to tone map HDR content to the projector's native capabilities to give a boost in dynamic range performance and Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) support. The VW570ES is a Sony TRILUMINOS display and as such it attempts to create WCG material without the use of a filter in the light path, which can dim the image, so it remains bright and fairly accurate to at least the DCI-P3 gamut used for 4K Blu-ray and other content.
Sony is also renowned for its picture-processing technology and with the VW570ES we get Super-resolution Reality Creation and 4K Motionflow. Reality Creation is an upscaling and sharpening algorithm that assesses objects on screen and compares them to databases so it knows what it is and what it should look like. MotionFlow is the frame interpolation technology that inserts made up frames into the content to produce a smoother image. There are a number of settings here including Impulse, which is Black Frame Insertion (BFI), Combination that includes BFI and smoothing, two super smooth modes and True Cinema, which works for 24fps material without introducing interpolation. Obviously, with the smooth modes, the VW570ES introduces Soap Opera Effect (SOE), which is not desired when watching movie content. You can, of course, experiment with this for fast moving sports and video-based content.
The Sony VPL-VW570ES has motorised lens controls that mean it has a full lens memory function for users with 2.35:1 screens. We use such a screen here for reviews so we can test the functionality, and we also like the constant height approach to home cinema. You can set the lens memories for 1.85:1 and 2.35:1 ratios where it will zoom, shift and focus between each setting, and you also have more memories available so you can also use the 2.00:1 Netflix ratio and other aspect ratios you might watch on a frequent basis.
Out of the Box MeasurementsAs always, we set about trying to find the best settings out of the box that get close to the industry standards. This is important as we want to view our films and TV shows as they are intended to be seen, and as they are mastered to the industry standards, matching those means we can view them, as they should be seen. We used our Klein K10-A meter, Murideo Fresco Six-G Pattern Generator and CalMAN Ultimate software.
We found that Cinema Film 1 was an acceptable preset to use, but we had to switch off a number of image processing features, including Reality Creation and MotionFlow, so we had a reasonable starting point. We found that setting the Colour Temperature to D75 as opposed to the more intuitive D65 actually had the more accurate greyscale tracking and we set gamma at 2.4 for the dark environment we were reviewing the projector in, which was a bat cave dedicated room.
Looking at the greyscale (top left) we can see that out of the box the Sony VPL-VW570ES is incredibly accurate. DeltaE errors are all under three with gamma also looking decent with just a lightening at the brighter end where we also have a red dip and green push from 60ire. However these are not visible with onscreen material and the greyscale, for an out of the box preset, is very impressive indeed.
Moving to the Rec.709 HD colour gamut (top right) we can also see that, once again, the VW570 is very accurate with just a few instances of slight oversaturation on the graph, but again with content on-screen, this is not obvious. Granted, this review sample was supplied by Sony and it might not be the case that every single VW570ES is this accurate out of the box, but the results here are impressive.
Out of the box, the VW570ES is incredibly accurate to the standards
Calibrated MeasurementsWe would expect that even with such accurate out of the box results, anyone forking out the money for this type of projector would get it professionally calibrated. There are full calibration controls available on the VW570ES, including a CMS system.
What we did find with the greyscale (top left) is that the two-point controls are very coarse and while you can correct set points of the scale, there are still issues elsewhere that cannot be tamed, when looking at the graph anyway. DeltaE errors are well under the visible threshold of three, and while a prettier looking chart would be nice, the reality is a very accurate greyscale with no visible colour tints or errors with on-screen material.
With a CMS available the Rec.709 colour gamut tracking (top right) was easy to correct with just a few small adjustments to bring saturation from 75% and under to be completely accurate. DeltaE errors here were an average of 1.8 and luminance (not shown) was also correct. As such, colours with onscreen content looked sublime and extremely accurate and we really couldn’t fault the VW570ES image quality with SDR content. We would have liked a gamma editor and more greyscale controls to make fine adjustments and perhaps Sony can look at adding those in future models.
HDR ResultsAs we keep reminding readers, when it comes to HDR content on a projector, you cannot expect the same type of dynamic range and performance you get from flat-panel TVs like LCD and OLED. This is because we are talking about a reflective viewing experience and projectors cannot produce the pixel level dynamic range or brightness required for HDR images. With projection it has to be approached differently and the results are less dramatic with reduced brightness capabilities. That doesn’t mean you can’t watch HDR content on a projector and the performance can be raised against normal SDR viewing with some extra brightness, better shadow detail retrieval and some additional dynamic range. By using suitable tone mapping it is possible to get a reasonable HDR image performance, albeit far dimmer and with less pop than from a flat panel display.
Areas where a projector should be able to produce the goods are with correct PQ EOTF tracking to the native capabilities of the display device and with wide colour gamut tracking, although colour volume will again not be as bright as a flat panel TV. By tone mapping and making decisions on where to clip within the image, the VW570ES can produce some quite dynamic looking images with HDR10 content. It doesn’t support HDR10+ or Dolby Vision and will not be upgraded to provide those either.
When the VPL-VW570ES detects HDR metadata or signal it switches to HDR mode automatically. It does this if you leave the HDR setting in Auto. If you change this to HDR10 or HDR Reference then it will also apply that to any SDR content you happen to watch, as it doesn’t auto switch between SDR and HDR. So make sure you have it set to auto. It is also worth pointing out that if you calibrate Cinema Film 1 (or any preset) for SDR white balance and CMS, when the projector switches to HDR it also applies those calibrated settings to HDR content, which is not desired. So you need to have one image mode for calibrated SDR (we used Cinema Film 1) and one set up for HDR content (we used Cinema Film 2).
Looking at the PQ EOTF graph (top left) you can see that, again, the greyscale is tracking accurately to D65. We can also see that the EOTF also tracks well and rolls off as expected towards to brighter end of the scale and the luminance tracking also shows that from around 70ire and above the VW570ES hard clips the brighter areas of the image at the projector's peak brightness. The VPL-VW570ES tracks almost the same way with 1000 and 4000 nit content with no really noticeable tone mapping changes on screen for the different metadata. Again, using Auto in the settings is all you need to do to get the best HDR performance from the VW570ES. This is what we would expect from the Sony and although it could do a better job at retaining the peak highlights it would also impact on the brightness capabilities and dynamic range available. As we see darker objects and shadow detail changes better than changes in brightness, it makes sense to try and retain as much of the lower image details that add depth to the image and sacrifice the highlight detail, which is not as important as perceived brightness peaks.
Moving to the colour gamut (top right) and we can see that even without a colour filter being added to the light path, like some projectors that try to reach the DCI-P3 colour space, the VW570ES actually does an excellent job without. This means that brightness is retained as you are not placing a filter into the light path, but it also means that the full-colour space cannot be covered. We have slight oversaturation on red and blue, with hue errors on green and magenta. Green and cyan at 100% line up to show the limit of the gamut coverage for saturation and luminance (not shown) is good at most points. For a projector without the use of a colour filter, the VW570Es does an excellent job of trying to cover as much of the DCI-P3 gamut as possible and with on-screen HDR content, it does look very natural and accurate, even with the slight errors we see here.
The VPL-VW570ES has a peak brightness of 385 nits on a 10% window and 300 nits full frame. This is a stable output. BT.2020 gamut coverage is XY 64% and UV 69% and DCI coverage was XY 90% and UV 93% which is actually impressive when there is no colour filter in use. We found that the Dynamic iris didn’t impact on mixed scenes and, in fact, the only time we saw it in obvious use was in fade to blacks which were after the fact, so a few seconds after the actual fade to black. When using a 0% black pattern the dynamic iris closed down giving a measurement of 0.0001 nits, which is not realistic or comparable to actual black level performance. With it switched off, we measured a more realistic 0.0105 nits. Given the caveats of HDR on a projector, the Sony VPL-VW570ES gives an excellent account of itself and a very impressive HDR image.
Sony VW570ES Picture QualityThis is a home cinema projector that is designed to be used in a dedicated light controlled environment. The main sales channel for this projector is the custom install market where it will be designed into a dedicated media or cinema room, used with the correct screen and in a room that allows it to perform at its best. Placing the Sony VPL-VW570ES in a normal living room with light coloured surfaces will kill off most of its major attributes when it comes to image quality. We tested the VW570ES in our dedicated cinema room, which can be completely blacked out with dark surfaces, black walls and no reflective surfaces, as you would expect.
Starting with the lens set up we found it very easy to get the VW570ES dialled in, and we also added in the different aspect ratios for the lens memory. We positioned it at the rear of the room and used our reference 110-inch Screen Excellence enlightor 4K 2.38:1 fixed screen; we don’t use a white painted wall like some publications. We also did some comparison testing with our resident JVC DLA-X7900 reference projector.
Sharpness is excellent and we didn’t notice any obvious aberrations from the glass lens used in the VW570ES. Details and image sharpness were crisp from each side and across the entire screen with no obvious soft spots. We also looked at image brightness, which was good over most of the image surface, and when the projector was in the black screen mode between handshakes we saw very slight dark corners in each corner, but this was not seen within actual viewing material. Screen uniformity with a 100% white pattern displayed was excellent with no colour tints or shifts within the image.
We used MotionFlow in the True Cinema and Off modes for most of our testing with 24fps material, as the Smooth settings add in motion interpolation, as does Combination (along with BFI). Impulse uses BFI and while we didn’t notice any flicker there was a reduction in the brightness of the image and we could see some mild interpolation also being applied, which we were surprised to find. For image purists, you should also be aware that some backdoor noise reduction appears to be applied to all picture modes. This is incredibly subtle and we only noticed it with test patterns and certainly didn’t notice its effects with viewing normal movie material at our normal seating position.
Black levels and shadow detail retrieval are very impressive on the VPL-VW570ES with inky deep blacks and just above black detail. While the JVC X7900 still has the edge when it comes to absolute black level, we also found the JVC crushed more in the just above black level, where the Sony was able to produce this and create more perceivable depth, even though the JVC had slightly better blacks. We also found that right through the lower reaches of the image, the Sony was more consistent and that gamma tracking with SDR content was certainly more realistic that we have seen from previous Sony SXRD projectors.
Starting with SDR streaming content we found that the video processing and scaling are very good on the VPL-VW570ES with no obvious ringing or other artefacts being seen. Motion with 24fps material was also very good with no induced judder on pans or additional image blur over what is contained within the source material. Colours are also superb with incredibly natural-looking skin tones and strong yet realistic colour hues and tones, which keep a consistent look that is not over the top or forced. In comparison to the JVC X7900 we found that, while very close in image attributes, the colour tone was slightly forced or over saturated to the eye on the JVC in comparison. This initially draws the eye but after some time viewing we found the Sony colour rendition to be slightly more appealing to our eye than the JVC, but again, we are being extremely picky.
We didn’t have any issues with normal Blu-ray either with a number of our usual test discs passing with flying colours and the Sony producing truly cinematic images that pop off the screen. It might lack that ultimate deep black that the JVC produces, but it is within touching distance and we found the shadow detail retrieval added more depth to the image with a cleaner look, whereas the JVC really does have greater dynamics but a slightly noisier look (which some users find appealing). It really is close though and while the Sony also has the jump on the JVC, being a native 4K unit over the JVC’s E-shift technology, from normal viewing distances we didn’t find resolution to be a major differentiator. Other image attributes are more noticeable and attractive than just resolution on its own.
Moving to HDR and we found that left in HDR Auto the projector identified HDR content and displayed this as best it could, implementing decent tone mapping that tried to retain as much of the black and shadow detail as possible while clipping the higher part of the signal. This is sensible with a display as limited as a projector because the human eye is drawn and attracted to changes in the darker areas of an image far more than a change in brightness. So, losing some detail in the peak highlights but still being as bright as possible is the route Sony has taken here. Given the limitations of the technology this is the most sensible option to provide an image that is dynamic and colourful, with plenty of detail in the blacks and shadows. While you can change the contrast control and dial in an image that replaces the clipped highlight detail, you compress the image robbing it of any dynamic range, so avoid this route. You could also use a source that applies some tone mapping before the projector receives the input. I’m thinking specifically about the Panasonic UB820 and UB9000 players and their tone mapping features, but unfortunately, I didn’t have either to hand when testing the VW570ES. We’ll try and get one for our review of the VW270ES and see if that makes any difference to results.
We used our usual test discs, such as Pan and Blade Runner 2049 to really push the Sony VW570ES and its HDR performance. As expected, some peak highlight detail is clipped using the out of the box settings and we also noted some strange issues with posterisation that we were not expecting to see at all. Within the torture test that is the New Vegas scene in BR 2049, we saw some light posterisation around the light source (obscured sun) in the yellowy orange hue of the mist. Given the processing power on board and the fact it should be capable of handling full bandwidth 10-bit signals, we were surprised with this. You can, of course, add in smooth gradation within the menu, but it really shouldn’t be an issue in the first place. It was slight and most users would probably never even notice it is there, but when you watch this scene as often as I do over as many display devices, you can tell when something is wrong straight away.
With those observations out of the way, I have to say that I was rather impressed with the image quality of the Sony VPL-VW570ES and it certainly has some really strong points to its performance. Plus, if you are a true cinema fan and have a dedicated bat cave like me with a 2.38:1 ratio screen to fill, you’ll be pleased to note that the VW570ES has a lens memory function. It is easy to set up and program and while not as slick in operation as the JVC method, it does a decent job of switching between ratios and there is minimal light drop off between the zoomed points.
As with all display devices, there are no perfect projectors or TVs which have no issues at all. As with everything in life, when built to a price point and mass-produced, there will be strengths and weaknesses in each and every display. Put the VPL-VW570ES in a room with light coloured ceiling and walls and firing on to a white wall, you will never see its true potential or performance. It will look washed out and not capable of showing its best. However, add it to a dedicated blacked out cinema room with a high-quality screen material and black walls, you will get the last drop of performance out of this projector. The Sony is capable of some truly brilliant images and offers plenty of positives to those looking for a high-performance native 4K display as we have discussed above.
The most obvious question to be asked at this juncture is how does the Sony VPL-VW570ES compare with the new JVC DLA-N7? Sadly, there has been no sign of a review sample of the new JVCs and it doesn’t look like we will get to see them until at least January. We will ask Sony to return the VW570ES for a comparison at that time.
Black levels and shadow detail retrieval are very impressive on the VPL-VW570ES
- Excellent out of the box image accuracy for SDR content
- Excellent HDR image quality out of the box in the most accurate picture preset
- Excellent just above black detail
- Very good black levels and superb shadow detail retrieval
- Decent tone mapping for HDR content
- Quiet in low lamp mode
- 2 x 18Gbps HDMI inputs
- Excellent video processing and motion
- Lens memory functionality for aspect ratio control
- Some posterisation seen in HDR content
- Needs separate image preset for SDR and HDR use
- HDR10 and HDR Reference modes applied to even SDR content if selected
- Can be noisy in full lamp mode
Sony VPL-VW570ES ReviewIt is fair to say that £8000 is not spare change to the vast majority of readers, but for those looking for a high-quality native 4K projector, the VW570ES certainly offers up an excellent performance with SDR and HDR content. The Sony will find its way into many custom install designs and that is the channel where it will sell in good volume. You need a dedicated room with excellent light treatment to the walls and ceilings (preferably black) to get the very best that the VW570ES can offer you, which is a superb cinematic image.
Black levels are very close to those of the JVC D-ILA models and we ran some side by side comparisons with our resident X7900 model, but we are still waiting for the Native 4K N7 to turn up for review, so we will try and get this Sony back again to do some proper comparisons then. Where the Sony is better than the JVC is with just above black shadow detail retrieval and a super mid tone that allows the image a real sense of depth and detail, where the JVC is inky black but also crushes some of that detail. With SDR content the Sony offers a clean and crisp image with superb sharpness and natural, accurate colours that pop. There is a more subtle nuance to the colours produced by the VW570ES compared to the X7900, that makes it just look more natural, to my eyes anyway. But of course, we are talking about minute differences here.
With HDR content the VW570ES continues to offer a decent stab at producing some dynamic looking images and decent brightness. It will never get close to the HDR images that LCD and OLED TVs can produce, but with reflective displays, you have a lack of brightness and means to produce those specular highlights seen on TVs. But you can still get a consistent looking HDR image that, while dim in comparison to other displays when watched in pitch-black surroundings, does have some dynamics to the image on offer. Sony has decided to hard clip the peak highlight detail while retaining the more important darker reaches of the image, this gives us what our eyes are capable of seeing in a consistent manner. So, while some highlights are clipped, this does allow for a dynamic looking and, in projector terms, bright HDR effect. It’s certainly a step up compared to the HDR models from 2017.
If you have the budget and more importantly, the environment to get the absolute best out of the VPL-VW570ES, we don’t think you can go wrong if you want superbly accurate SDR out of the box along with some of the best projected HDR content we have seen so far from a high-end machine. So, if that is what you are looking for make sure you put the Sony VPL-VW570ES on your demo list, it picks up our Highly Recommended badge with ease.
What are the alternatives?
If you don’t quite have the budget to stretch to the VW570ES but want a native 4K Sony you could look at the entry-level VPL-VW270ES (which we currently have in for review). This offers much of the technology on offer here but with a slightly reduced light output and the black levels are not quite as deep. But it still offers native 4K images with a decent consistent HDR and accurate SDR image quality, although it will still set you back around £5000.
If you are happy to do without the native 4K chips and go for the cinematic images and deep inky blacks, you can still pick up the E-shift capable JVC DLA-X7900 for around the same £5000 but we would probably wait for the new native 4K models.
Although they can’t seem to build them fast enough to meet demand at the moment, the main competition to the VPL-VW570ES is the JVC DLA-N7, which will retail for around £8500 and offers many of the same advantages of the Sony, but with those renowned JVC black levels. But will the N7 really be able to compete? We will need to wait until the New Year to find out. So stay tuned for a possible comparison around late January.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £7,999.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels9
2D Picture Quality9
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box9
Picture Quality Calibrated9
Ease Of Use9
Value For Money7
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