Sony VPL-VW350ES 4K projector review: Yes Virginia, there is a difference with 4K
Tv & Audio
We spend a lot of time at CNET talking about how the extra pixels of 4K resolution are really difficult to appreciate at normal screen sizes and viewing distances, but the living rooms that will have Sony's VPL-VW350.
50ES 4K projector are anything but normal.
At a penny under ten grand in the US, this is the least expensive 4K projector on the market.
I'll get one thing out of the way first, its picture with any source is as you'd expect from display that cost this much is spectacular.
I tested it using a 120 inch screen in a completely dark room and observed excellent color accuracy, superb video processing, and plenty of contrast.
No, its black levels aren't quite as deep as JVC's competing projectors, like the DLA-X700R.
But otherwise, I could find very little wrong with the Sony's picture.
The fun part for me was comparing it to the JVC and a second high-end 1080p projector from Epson on that huge screen, and comparing 4K content from Sony's video player, the highest-quality 4K source available today, to 1080p Blu-rays.
I was somewhat surprised to see that even at that size and seated nine feet away, it was still tough to tell the difference with most movies that I watched, including After Earth, The Amazing Spiderman, Fury and most surprising, Lawrence of Arabia.
But in some cases, the extra price of the 4K really paid dividends in the form of significantly more sharpness and incredible lifelike detail on my screen.
One was during the official 2014 FIFA World Cup film, where the game highlights, rendered in 4k at 60 frames per second, looks simply more lifelike and realistic than any sports video I've ever seen.
Another was a movie called No Good Deed, which visibly beat the Blu-ray with its details, particularly in close-ups of faces.
Watching the 4k version was like removing a thin veil over my eyes.
It's early days yet for 4k content and I expect the best examples that continue to widen the gap with Blue Ray.
And as long as you sit close enough to a large enough screen.
In the meantime if you can afford it, the VPL-VW350ES finally provides a 4k difference worth seeing.
I'm David Katzmaier for CNet.
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