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Sony 4K projector still expensive

Sony's VPL-VW600ES is far from the entry-level 4K projector we were expecting to see, but it should boast excellent image quality.

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David Katzmaier
David_Katzmaier.jpg

David Katzmaier

Editorial Director -- TVs and streaming

David has reviewed TVs, streaming services, streaming devices and home entertainment gear at CNET since 2002. He is an ISF certified, NIST trained calibrator and developed CNET's TV test procedure himself. Previously David wrote reviews and features for Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as "The Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics."

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While Europe gets the less-expensive 500ES, the "cheapest" Sony 4K projector available in the US will be the $14,999 VPL-VW600ES, and will support HDMI 2.0. The 600ES is the "affordable" version of Sony's new flagship, the $27,999.99 VPL-VW1100ES. The 600ES is spec'ed for a lower light output than the 1100ES, but it otherwise looks very similar, and shares the same sweet, sweet 4K resolution.

Although 4K is largely superfluous in smaller screen sizes like 55-inch TVs (unless you sit very close), on a 100-inch projector image all those extra pixels should really have an impact. Sony's 4K upconversion process -- which will get plenty of use for the time being since 4K content is so rare -- is solid based on what we saw on its 84-inch TV. Add to that the great contrast of Sony's LCoS-based, SXRD chips, as seen on models like the VPL-HW50ES we reviewed earlier, and the 600ES looks like a real stunner on paper.

The icing on the cake is HDMI 2.0, a feature absent from the previous 4K flagship projector sans a costly hardware upgrade. The new standard ensures compatibility with faster-frame rate video, like computer games, in 4K.

Given it's $5,000 more than the 5000ES we expected, the only "sweetener" comes in the form of the Sony 4K Ultra HD Media Player (FMP-X1) and a Sony Xperia Z Tablet to use as a controller--if you pay an extra $1000. However, the 1100ES does come with these two accessories and a bonus bulb, if you can stomach the additional $10K.