Sunday, December 19, 2021

Sony 4K SXRD Home Cinema Projector VPL-VW325ES

Thankfully, with COVID, things appear that they are going back to somewhat normal. But over the last two years or so, there have been a lot more people staying at home, and binge-watching shows or movies. It’s been a great time to enjoy new 4K content, or maybe upgrade to 4K if you haven’t already done so. And of course, the best way to do that is to go big, with the biggest picture size that you can. In order to do that, the best way is with a front projector. The Sony VPL-VW325ES is a great one to do that with, which is up for review today.

 

Features and specs:

X1™ processor for projector brings you the best of Sony’s image processing

Dynamic HDR Enhancer brings a wider contrast range scene by scene for striking and realistic picture quality

Full Native 4K resolution on 3 SXRD imagers: 4096 x 2160 pixels each

Motionflow™ provides smooth motion for 4K & HD1

High Dynamic Range brings a wider contrast range for improved realism

High brightness of 1,500 Lumens

Advanced Reality Creation for upscaling and sharpening images without sharpening picture noise2

Input lag reduction ensures faster refresh rate for gamers

TRILUMINOS™ Display for wider array of rich colors

Enjoy the latest 4K content services with HDCP 2.2 compatibility on both 18 Gbps HDMI inputs3

Anamorphic lens compatibility for 4K signals (V-stretch for 4K)

 

Size & Weight

Dimensions (W x H x D)  19 1/2" x 8 3/32" x 18 1/4"

Weight  Approx. 31 lb (14 kg)

Display

Display System   4K SXRD panel, projection system

Display Resolution           720 x 576/50p, 720 x 480/60p, 1280 x 720/50p, 1280 x 720/60p, 1920 x 1080/50i, 1920 x 1080/60i, 1920 x 1080/24p, 1920 x 1080/50p, 1920 x 1080/60p, 3840 x 2160/24p, 3840 x 2160/25p, 3840 x 2160/30p, 3840 x 2160/50p, 3840 x 2160/60p, 4096 x 2160/24p, 4096 x 2160/25p, 4096 x 2160/30p, 4096 x 2160/50p, 4096 x 2160/60p

Light source        High-pressure mercury lamp, 225 W type

Picture processor             X1™ for projector

General Features

Effective Imager Size       0.74" x 3

Effective pixels   26,542,080 (4096 x 2160 x 3) pixels

Projection lens shift        Vertical: +85% -80% Horizontal: +/-31%

Throw ratio        1.38 : 1 to 2.83 : 11

Hardware

Projection lens zoom / focus       Powered (Approx. x2.06)

Interface

Input and Output Terminals         HDMI (2 INPUTS)2 - Digital RGB/Y Pb/Cb Pr/Cr, IR IN - Minijack, LAN - RJ45, 10Base-T/100BASE-TX, REMOTE - RS-232C, D-sub 9-pin (male), TRIGGER - Minijack, DC 12 V Max. 100 mA, USB - DC 5 V, Max. 500 mA

Operating Conditions

Operating temperature / humidity            41 °F to 95 °F (5 °C to 35 °C)/35% to 85% (no condensation)

Storage temperature / humidity -4 °F to +140 °F (-20 °C to +60 °C)/10% to 90% (no condensation)

Power

Acoustic noise    26 dB3

Power requirement          AC 100 V to 240 V, 4.0 A to 1.7 A, 50/60 Hz

Power consumption        390 W

Video Features

Light Output       1,500 lm (Lamp mode: High)4

Color Light Output           1,500 lm (Lamp mode: High)4

Eco and energy saving

Power Consumption (Standby Mode)      0.4 W (When "Remote Start" is set to "Off")

Power Consumption (Networked Standby Mode)               1.0 W (LAN) (When "Remote Start" is set to "On") When a LAN terminal is not connected, it becomes a low power consumption mode (0.5 W).

Standby Mode Activated               After about 10 Minutes

 

The Sony VPL-VW325ES came shipped in a nice and sturdy cardboard box. It’s a good thing too, as the projector weighs in at over 30 lbs. opening up the box revealed a very well-made projector held by custom molded Styrofoam. Pulling out the projector, the materials used in the construction was mostly plastic with some metal. Quality of materials used, as well as the fit and finish was excellent. The case was not quite black, more of a really dark grey. But I can see it being called black. And the casing had a bit of a speckly to it, almost like a metallic paint. It is really cool looking! Also included was the remote, power cable, and owner’s manual.

 

When it comes to 4K projectors, there are a lot of options. Many of them are very economical. But they are not true 4K. They use an HD 1080P panel, and use pixel shifting to display the 4K resolution. This process happens so fast, that your eye thinks what is being seen is 4K. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a great image. It just isn’t true 4K. If you want a true 4K front projection, the cheapest option is the Sony VPL-VW325ES.

 

I liked the design of the Sony VPL-VW324ES. All of the connections are on the left side, with the controls and buttons on the right. The power cord jack is on the rear. And so there are no concerns for installation location, there are IR sensors both on the front and back. For added convenience for those that ceiling mount the projector, you do not need to take it down for maintenance. There is no dust filter to worry about cleaning or replacing. And the access cover for replacing the lamp is located on the top. I had a previous, older model Sony projector, and the lamp access panel was on the bottom of the projector. That meant every time I needed to replace the bulb, I also had to take down the projector. Now taking down the projector to replace the bulb is not necessary. And for me, this is so exciting! You can mount it just once and call it done!

 

Installation was simple for me. But I also chose its location very carefully. The Sony VPL-VW325ES was mounted in our reference theater room in our basement. I knew where the projector should be, to be exactly in the middle of the screen, and I prepared that spot accordingly. So once the room was drywalled and finished, I was able to drill and secure it’s mount. With the mount up it was ready to install the projector. With the Sony VPL-VW325ES, it doesn’t have to be direct center, however, it does have a good amount of lens shift. Now that it’s installed I felt like a little kid with cash in hand in a candy store. Now let’s fire it up!

 

With it installed, I still had to go through the initial set-up. And the owner’s manual was very easy to follow in taking you through the steps. While I had the projector centered, I still had to adjust it to my screen. The Sony VPL-VW325ES has power zoom and focus. So with the remote in hand, this was easy to do. After a few minutes of picture shifting, and zooming in and out, I found the perfect size to fill in my screen. To get that in your room, you will also need to know your room, where you want to mount the projector, and the projector’s limits. A previous projector, due to the mount I used previously, had a little bit of a trapezoid-ish image. Knowing this I got a mount where the projector was mounted about 15 inches from the ceiling.  And I had a great looking picture that filled my screen.

 

I couldn’t wait to see how it performs. It has some excellent features and specs, so the picture should be stellar. Thanks in large part to the processing power of the new X1 for projector processor. These features include Dynamic HDR Enhancer works to works to increase the contrast of HDR content. And the Reality Creation works to upscale the resolution of the image. Sometimes specs look great on paper, but can fall short in reality. Sony has impressed me in the past, and I have high hopes for this new model, thanks to the new projector version of the powerful X1 Procession. Now that it’s installed, and all set up, let’s see how it performs! To test its performance, we will be using our HD cable box, Amazon Fire TV Cube, and the Panasonic DP-UB9000PIK 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray Player.

 

For the 4K in all of its sweetness, I turned to the Panasonic BP-UB9000PIK. The resolution was nothing short of stunning! Skin tones were so natural looking, with pore details the actresses I’m sure would rather us not see. Texture details of the various uniforms of the avengers, as well as their enemies was pleasant to behold. And then there was the excellent contrast and the plethora of colors so spectacular they were pure eye candy. The blacks were inky black. There was even excellent depth to the images as well!

 

For streaming, 4K also came out really well. The picture was only slightly less as high quality as found on the Panasonic 4K player. The resolution was still excellent, and the same for shadow details, only just slightly less. The image depth was just about as good, and contrast as well as the vibrancy of the colors were also just a smidge less. While the picture was still excellent, it was just a little less life-like.  This is why I still prefer discs over streaming.

 

Lastly it’s time to turn to my cable box. It’s college football bowl season, so one of the many bowl games was on. The image was very crisp, with very good resolution of the uniforms and helmets. Colors were vibrant, and very well saturated without being overly saturated. Seeing the black uniforms, and the uniforms of the refs, it was easy to see how well the Sony VPL-VW325ES does with blacks. Especially seeing the DVR black bar from pausing the game. Blacks are inky black. And while the image clearly wasn’t 4K, it still looked very good, and looked better than regular 1080p.  The Sony Reality Engine does not create 4K out of regular HD, but it does help make it look better!

 

I was extremely happy with the picture quality of the Sony VPL-VW325ES. It looked very well with all source material. Obviously, the real visual nirvana came from the 4K discs, but I was truly happy with the images from all source material. And I was completely floored at how good the picture looked, fresh out of the box, without any adjustments! Unless you are an avid videophile, most people would be happy with the image quality at factory default settings. And that’s saying a lot!  Getting a projector calibrated adds a bit of cost, but with this Sony VPL-VW325ES you don’t need to.  It looks great right out of the box!

 


The Sony VPL-VW325ES is not for everyone thanks to its MSRP of $5,500. But if you want a true 4K picture, the price of admission isn’t cheap. If you have the means, it’s worth every penny. Throwing a 100 inch image at about 12 feet away, it looks like I’m just watching a huge flatscreen TV! Being in a fully light controlled theater room in the basement I know also helps. It’s a well put together projector. And with it being a Sony, you know you’ll get many years of use. Based on its design, features, quality and performance the Sony VPL-VW325ES has earned our Editor’s Choice Award. Kudos to Sony for such an excellent product! For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.sony.com.

Reference gear used: Onkyo TX-RZ920 Receiver, Outlaw Audio Model 7000X Amplifier, Emotiva BasX A-500 Amplifier, Helios AS-P603W Smart Power Surge and Line Conditioner,  Panasonic DP-UB9000P1K 4K Player, RBH Sound SI-663R Signature Reference Series In-Wall Speakers, RBH Sound SI-760R Signature Reference Series In-Wall Speakers, RBH Sound SI-615 Signature In-Ceiling Speakers, RBH Sound SI-1212 In-Ceiling/In-Floor Subwoofer with DA-1802DSP Subwoofer Amplifier.


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