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Sony VPL-VW500ES review

Tom Morgan
5 Jan 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
8,798
inc VAT

A competitvely-priced Ultra HD projector with HDMI 2.0 inputs that should extend its usefulness

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Specifications

4,096x2,160 resolution, 1,700 ANSI lumens, 496x195x464mm, 14.0kg

Ultra HD video has incredible impact when projected on a wall, and even though the Sony VPL-VW500ES is incredibly expensive it’s still cheaper than many Ultra HD projectors.

The VW500ES is very similar to the Sony VW1000ES, with a centrally-mounted lens and gorgeous sculpted black chassis. The VW500ES is smaller, though, so it should fit in more living rooms than the VW1000ES. Otherwise, Sony has made very few sacrifices to reduce the cost. The biggest changes are reduced brightness, which has been reduced to 1,700 ANSI lumens from 2,000, and the VW500ES’s lens is partly made from plastic. The lens cover is no longer motorised, so you must reach up to remove it when settling down to watch a film.

Sony VPL-VW500ES

Connection ports are located on one side, but there are few, with just two HDMI inputs, and no audio connections. This means you’ll need to pass video signals through an amplifier to hear sound, and the amplifier must support at Ultra HD pass-through to play ultra high-definition content. Happily, the VW500ES’s HDMI inputs conform to the 2.0 standard, so you’ll be able to play full resolution 4K video recorded at 50 or 60fps. The projector also has two trigger inputs, an IR input, LAN port and RS232 remote input for home automation.

Sony VPL-VW500ES

A row of power and menu controls are on the opposite side, but you can control everything from the comprehensive remote, including zoom, focus and lens shift. The remote control is backlit, so you’ll easily be able to find the right button in the dark. It also has shortcuts for picture mode, aspect ratio and Sony’s proprietary Reality Creation upscaling.

Sony VPL-VW500ES

We like the onscreen menus, as Sony has arranged them sensibly to make calibrating and customising the VW500ES incredibly straightforward. Beyond the standard brightness, contrast, colour, sharpness and colour temperature settings, there’s a huge selection of extra processing options including Cinema Black Pro, which does a great job of producing deep blacks during darker scenes.

Sony VPL-VW500ES

The comprehensive list of nine picture modes provides plenty of choice if you’re happy to use Sony’s calibrated presets. The best are undoubtedly Cinema Film 1 and Cinema Film 2, which create the most balanced picture without additional tweaking, but the game mode is a useful inclusion if you’ll use the projector with a PC or console.

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