Sony debuts two native 4K SXRD laser projectors

Mike Wheatley

Sony has announced a pair of new 4K laser projectors that it says usher in a new era of greater affordability and higher performance.


The affordability claims are certainly a matter of perspective. The cheapest of the two models is the Sony VPL-XW5000ES and it will set buyers back a cool £5,999 when it launches in the summer. Not exactly cheap but it is notably the same price as the Sony VPL-VW290ES that it's set to replace, even though it comes with a Sony Z-Phosphor Laser Light Source instead of a traditional lamp lighting system.

The more expensive of the two models is the Sony VPL-XW7000ES, which is priced at a staggering £14,999.

Fact is, laser projectors just don’t come that cheap. Laser projectors are superior to lamp projectors as they can efficiently deliver greater brightness and more vibrant and pure colours than their lamp-based counterparts. At the same time, they also do away with the mercury elements found in lamp projectors, which can cause damage to the environment. There’s also no need to replace the filters and lamps after a few thousand hours of use.

Laser projects also have the advantage of not degrading (losing brightness and colour accuracy) for many, many more hours than lamp projectors. Sony claims the XW500ES and XW7000ES have a light source life of up to 20,000 hours, or around 10,000 movie-packed evenings.

What’s Cool?

The Sony XW5000ES and XW7000ES projectors both come with some interesting new technologies. They’re powered by a new SXRD imaging chip that is claimed to be the smallest native 4K panel in a home cinema projector ever, capable of delivering sharper and more detailed images than before. In addition, the chips also claim higher light reflectance and a flatter reflective surface than earlier chips, leading to enhanced brightness, colour accuracy and gradations, and superior contrast, Sony said.

The SXRD chips power a new Wide Dynamic Range Optics system that includes high density laser nodes and a cooling system that prevents the projectors from overheating.

The projectors also come with a new video processor. The X1 Ultimate processor adds things such as object-based HDR remastering, digital contrast optimisation and object-based resolution enhancement, Sony said. Through the onboard Dynamic HDR Enhancer technology, the projectors employ smart image analysis and light control algorithms to improve brightness through signal processing while simultaneously adjusting the light output to improve black level response in dark areas of the picture. Both models come with the Triluminos Pro colour engine that supports up to 95% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut.

The Sony XW5000ES and XW7000ES also support advanced console gaming, but not to the degree that some gamers may have been hoping for. The projectors have a measured input lag of just 21ms with games at 4K/60Hz, dropping to just 13ms with the 120P frame rates both models support. However, 120P frame rate support doesn’t extend to 4K resolution. Moreover, the projectors are only fitted with HDMI 2.0 ports, meaning no 4K@120Hz or Variable Refresh Rates.

What’s Different?

As far as the differences between the two projectors go, these are important. The Sony XW5000ES delivers a peak brightness of 2,000 nits and is fitted with 10-piece, Φ54mm aspherical lens, and a throw ratio of 1:1.38-2.21. It notably lacks a motorised lens too, which means it cannot support Lens Memory features that allow for multiple aspects of the lens set up to be performed at the touch of a button.

On the other hand, the Sony XW7000ES offers a mighty powerful 3,200 nits of brightness. That’s thanks to its incredibly powerful Advanced Crisp Focus lens, a 13-piece Φ70mm Aspherical lens that increases the throw ratio to 1:1.35-2.84, delivers a ‘floating’ focus system, and features more ultra low dispersion glass elements.

Because it has a larger lens, the XW700ES has a larger focus area and improved clarity in both the corners and the centre of projected images. It also boasts less colour deviation of blue and red elements, Sony said, reducing the potential loss of sharpness associated with colour convergence errors.Of course, the XW7000ES also supports Lens Memory capabilities.

The Sony XW5000ES and XW7000ES are expected to go on sale in the summer.