Sony VPL-VW270ES

FOR Class-lead­ing sharp­ness; rich colours; set-up; na­tive 4K AGAINST No 3D glasses sup­plied

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If con­tent is king, con­text is next in line to the throne. With­out any con­text, you may think £5000 for a 4K pro­jec­tor sounds a bit steep, con­sid­er­ing such de­vices can be picked up for a fifth of that price nowa­days.

But that doesn’t con­sider the whole pic­ture. This Sony is a ‘true’ 4K pro­jec­tor, us­ing 4K-res­o­lu­tion chips as op­posed to ‘faux-4k’ meth­ods of pixel-shift­ing and en­hance­ment tech­nol­ogy. It’s also the most af­ford­able pro­jec­tor in the brand’s long and suc­cess­ful na­tive-4k line – even if the pre­vi­ous model, the VPLVW260ES, cost just £200 more.

That five-star beamer is now dis­con­tin­ued, and in its place is this VPL-VW270ES, which Sony in­tro­duced ear­lier this year along­side the VPLVW570ES (£8000) and pro VPLVW870ES (£25,000).

If you’ve no­ticed that it re­ceives a five-star re­view, you may be feel­ing bet­ter about the price. But you might still want to ask how Sony jus­ti­fies it­self in a world where 4K pro­jec­tion is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly ac­ces­si­ble.

Tried and tested 4K tech

As with its pre­de­ces­sor, the 270ES has a 4K SXRD panel pro­jec­tion sys­tem, with na­tive 4K (4096 x 2160) res­o­lu­tion and sup­port for HDR10 and HLG (Hy­brid Log

Gamma). The pic­ture’s stark crisp­ness and clin­i­cal clean­li­ness are the first signs of the Sony’s su­pe­ri­or­ity over more af­ford­able faux-4k ri­vals.

We play Life Of Pi on 4K Blu-ray and the VPL-VW270ES of­fers the kind of sharp­ness we haven’t wit­nessed on our pro­jec­tor screen since we re­viewed its pre­de­ces­sor. With this new model, im­prove­ments have been made to the panel’s re­flec­tive sil­i­con layer for bet­ter re­pro­duc­tion of shad­ows and blacks. Sony has evolved its ’Mo­tion­flow’ mode for smoother mo­tion per­for­mance, too.

Its 1500-lu­men out­put feels more than bright enough when our test room lights are dimmed right down – the likely en­vi­ron­ment for a pro­jec­tor of this price and cal­i­bre. How­ever, with the lights on, it doesn’t fare quite as well as a high­bright­ness pro­jec­tor (say, 3000-lu­men).

Those fa­mil­iar with the lights-out black lev­els of­fered by OLED TVS and the sheer bright­ness ca­pa­bil­i­ties of QLED and LCD TVS may not raise eye­brows at the Sony’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties in these ar­eas. But by pro­jec­tor stan­dards, con­trast across the spec­trum is ex­em­plary – as is high­lighted by the dark­ness of the night and sea and when stars and crea­tures glow in­tensely against it.

In such high-con­trast scenes, de­tail emerges from dark­ness, with noth­ing lost to shad­ows or sac­ri­ficed for black depth. To give you an idea, the Sony’s con­trast level is sim­i­lar to that of a de­cent LCD TV.

Re­gard­less of what’s on screen, in­sight on the whole is ex­cel­lent. Solid colours are among the Sony’s strengths, with not only the dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion of tones but also the lay­er­ing and rich­ness play­ing into the hands of the disc’s HDR. The stars above (and re­flected in) the ocean in Pi twin­kle with dif­fer­ing lev­els of bright­ness to cre­ate a real sense of depth in the sky, and sub­tle vari­a­tions of colour in sun­sets are ren­dered with pre­ci­sion.

“The VPL-VW270ES does its lin­eage proud. Though you can get ‘4K’ pro­jec­tors for less money, none does the res­o­lu­tion quite like this Sony”

Pre­set pref­er­ence

Of the nine pic­ture modes – all of which have a ded­i­cated but­ton on the re­mote – we pre­fer ’Cinema Film 1’, which of­fers the best con­trast, bright­ness and colour bal­ance for our tastes. We still find our­selves tweak­ing a lit­tle: bump­ing up bright­ness slightly and opt­ing for ’con­trast en­hancer’ on ’low’.

And what of Sony’s im­proved Mo­tion­flow? ’True Cinema’ gets our vote for ef­fec­tively pro­duc­ing a sta­ble and solid pic­ture, how­ever those par­tic­u­larly sen­si­tive to the ar­ti­fi­cial­ness of frame in­ser­tion may pre­fer it off al­to­gether.

Our test­ing sched­ule means we can com­pare the Sony with a five-star, 4K-sup­port­ing (not na­tive) Ep­son pro­jec­tor that’s less than half the price. Play Star Wars: The Last Jedi on Ul­tra HD Blu-ray through the two pro­jec­tors, and

the Sony’s pic­ture gleams in com­par­i­son; much sharper and more ca­pa­ble of vis­ual splen­dour.

We swap the 4K Star Wars disc for the stan­dard Blu-ray one, and the Sony al­most seems to wel­come the idea. Dur­ing the crawl, the solid yel­low hues of text against a de­cently black space back­drop are strong, and that pen­chant for rich­ness is ev­i­dent with ex­plo­sions, the is­land’s lush green grass, the or­ange pi­lot boil­er­suit and gleam­ing lightsaber han­dles. Over­all, it’s a care­fully con­sid­ered and sta­ble pic­ture.

That’s also the case as we play a DVD of Edge Of To­mor­row. Much to our de­light, it of­fers a hugely watch­able per­for­mance with ad­mirable clar­ity and colour punch, as richly coloured army uni­forms, shiny hel­mets and blaz­ing bat­tle­fields take up the screen. Some noise creeps in to re­mind us of the for­mat, but given the up­scal­ing task, the Sony han­dles it very well in­deed.

Re­mote set-up

Once the Sony has been un­packed, a 2.06x mo­torised lens and pow­ered con­trols mean it can be set up sim­ply by us­ing the re­mote, negat­ing the need for you to twist lenses and turn di­als.

There are 2.1x zoom and fo­cus con­trols, and a lens shift op­tion which means you can can fine-tune the im­age pre­cisely. The 1.36:1 to 2.16:1 throw ra­tio means it can beam a 100in im­age from a 3.05m to 6.28m dis­tance from the screen, or a 120in screen from 3.67m to 7.55m. Sony claims the VPL-VW270ES has been op­ti­mised with gam­ing in mind. Sup­port for 60 frames-per-sec­ond 4K play­back and beefed-up pro­cess­ing power, with faster re­sponse speeds and re­duced in­put lag, will no doubt have gamers in­ter­ested.

With its ac­tive 3D sup­port, the Sony will also ap­peal to the niche crowd of those who still watch the for­mat. The glasses aren’t sup­plied, and at a hefty £50 each that’s a shame, but we doubt it will trou­ble many own­ers, who will no doubt find sat­is­fac­tion with the rest of the Sony’s of­fer­ing.

A worthy suc­ces­sor

The VPL-VW270ES does its lin­eage proud, up­ping the pic­ture game slightly while shed­ding a few pounds. Though you can get ‘4K’ pro­jec­tors for less money, none does the res­o­lu­tion quite like this Sony. It prom­ises a scin­til­lat­ing home cinema ex­pe­ri­ence, and de­liv­ers just that.

The 2.06x mo­torised lens can beam a 100in im­age from as close as 3.05m

Twin HDMI in­puts, along with a LAN socket for net­work­ing, are side-mounted

Sup­port for HDR10 and HLG gives the Sony an in­nate ad­van­tage

Sub­tle tweaks have borne much fruit in this lat­est in a pres­ti­gious line

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