Sony is taking no prisoners with its pair of new native 4K laser projectors, with the VPL-XW7000ES being the higher-end of the two models. As we’ve already given the cheaper VPL-XW5000ES a five-star review, it's now time to look at its beefed up counterpart.
The Sony VPL-XW7000ES takes everything up a notch, pushing brightness up to 11 and featuring a more comprehensive set of motorised lens controls. Its native 4K resolution and notably high lumen count should catch the eyes of those looking for a flashy projector that will have people talking about the device as much as the content that's being watched on it.
However, with great specs comes a great price tag, and the Sony is certainly not cheap. Can its capable and confident performance persuade those looking for a high-end projector?
The VPL-XW7000ES costs £14,999 / $27,999 / AU$25,499, setting it squarely in the serious end of home cinema projectors. Its most obvious rival is the JVC DLA-NZ7, which is currently priced at £11,499 / $10,999 / AU$16,000.
The XW7000's equally fresh-faced sibling, the XW5000, is vastly cheaper, coming in at £5999 / $5998 / AU$9990.
The casework of the VPL-XW7000ES is made of a sturdy-feeling black plastic throughout and is comparable to a large microwave in size. It also weighs 14kg, making it significantly lighter than some competition, including the 22kg JVC DLA-NZ7. However, you will still need a sturdy support.
Front and centre sits Sony’s Advanced Crisp-Focused lens, which measures 70mm across, focusing the laser diode light source. Sony claims that fan noise on this projector is 26dB, which is fairly average for a projector of this stature. In practice, fan noise isn’t distracting, and the projector doesn’t struggle with overheating issues.
Sony utilises Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) projection technology for this projector, although it has dubbed it with the title SXRD. So what is LCoS? It combines aspects of DLP and LCD projectors, utilising the reflective technology of DLP but forgoing the colour wheel and using crystals to block light in the way of an LCD model. JVC also uses LCoS technology, but under the D-ILA brand name. All projection technologies have benefits and drawbacks, and LCoS is no exception. One of its most notable benefits is that it is considered to create balanced images with the ability to show deeper blacks and whiter whites.
The VW7000ES’s laser projection system consists of three of Sony’s native 4K SXRD panels, alongside a laser diode light source. It's powered by Sony’s X1 for Projectors processor. Sony says that the X1 processor draws on its Bravia TV division for advanced image processing technologies, including dynamic contrast control and Sony’s Motionflow motion processing.
Bulb technology Laser diode
Projection technology SXRD (LCoS)
Fan noise 26dB
HDMI 2 x HDMI 2.0
Brightness 3200 lumens
Dynamic contrast ratio ∞:1
Built in speakers No
Built in streaming No
A highlight of the VPL-XW7000ES is its claimed 3200 lumens of brightness, which is above average even at this end of the market. The DLA-NZ7, for example, is rated 1000 lumens lower. The Sony also supports two HDR formats natively – HDR10 and HLG – and while it may be disappointing to see HDR10+ missing here, HDR performance on the 7000ES is still very good.
Sony has also included a fully featured remote control with this projector, with dedicated buttons for immediate access to different picture modes, including a plethora of cinema modes, a gaming mode, reference mode, TV-watching mode and more. The remote is responsive, making it easy to navigate the comprehensive settings menus, and the backlit buttons are appreciated when using the remote in the dark.
The projector sports a decent set of connections, however gamers may be slightly disappointed to find that while it will accept 120Hz signals, it will only do so at up to 1440p resolution. 4K support maxes out at 60Hz.
Unlike the XW5000, the XW7000 has motorised zoom, shift and focus functionality, making the often irksome task of fitting the picture to the screen swift and mostly painless. It does feature manually adjustable feet that can screw in or out for extra options to level out the projector on non-flat surfaces, however they can be awkward to reach due to the large build of the projector.
The Sony's picture is nothing short of mesmerising. From its sharp and crisp image quality to its masterful control of lighting, the XW7000ES is almost relentlessly good, one-upping itself with each film we watch. Of the picture modes, we find ourselves flipping between Reference and Cinema Mode 2 for the best balance of colour, detail and motion. Reference provides a more accurate, slightly less punchy image with the intent of reproducing the source material most faithfully, whereas Cinema Mode 2 is slightly punchier and overall feels more cinematic. Sony also includes its Cinema Black Pro system, which is a form of proprietary dynamic contrast. We set it to full as it performs well – although there is a limited option for a more subtle effect.
Starting with Spielberg’s frenzied sci-fi epic Ready Player One, we're immediately taken by the bold, sharp and bright presentation, the XW7000 really making its high lumen count and native 4K resolution count. The final battle scene towards the end of the movie really plays to the projector’s strengths, with blindingly bright laser fire and the golden rays of sun punching through the stormy skies overhead, making for a breathtaking display. Details are sharp, with the environmental textures of the snowy battlefield and the overcast skies above both retaining granular texture. Even the metallic textures of the giant robots and the combatants’ armour look meticulously detailed. Edges of subjects are clearly defined, sharp and three-dimensional without looking unnatural or 'cut-out' from the frame.
Compared to its rivals, there is a hint of judder, but this doesn’t distract from the overall picture too much. The Motionflow feature can help smooth things over, but even on the low settings it can add a degree of unnaturalness. On higher settings it veers into uncanny, with a cardboard cutout effect for subjects on screen. Our preference is to accept the small amount of judder.
Moving onto the superhero noir epic The Batman, the Caped Crusader’s newest outing shines brightly on the VW7000ES – which may be ironic because the film takes place predominantly at night. This is testament to how well the projector handles lighting and contrast, with the dark and gloomy streets of Gotham brimming with detail while still retaining deep blacks. The excellent contrast enhances the depth in this film too, with a scene in which the Gotham Police Department surrounds the seedy criminal nightclub oozing with depth and carefully considered lighting that provides a deep, detailed image.
The car chase scene in which the Batmobile is first introduced to the audience is another instance where this projector is at its best. The dark alleyway illuminates as flames burst from the Batmobile’s exhaust, with the glistening metallic components of the Batmobile’s engine looking detailed and textured. At the end of the action-packed chase, the Dark Knight walks towards the camera in front of an explosive backdrop of chaos and debris. The flames from the explosion avoid any glowing halo effect as the lighting is tightly controlled so as not to lessen the black depth of the night sky or compromise his menacing silhouette.
Our final film is the World War 2 epic Dunkirk, which includes moments of grandeur that show this projector’s capability. The aerial shots of boats show immense depth, with the ocean appearing to stretch on endlessly thanks to the projector’s fantastically three-dimensional image. At a more granular level, scenes of soldiers struggling to board lifeboats contain rippling waves and bubbling seafoam that can be observed with pinpoint detail.
The Sony VPL-XW7000ES consistently received involuntary verbal reactions of “wow” and “can you believe how good this looks?” throughout our testing. The brightness surpasses the gimmicky branding that many would expect, and the details are razor sharp.
In fact, this home projector is even capable of surpassing the typical 'real' cinema experience. The Batman certainly looks better here than when we first watched it at the multiplex – and we didn't have anyone kicking our seat this time, either.
- Build 5
- Features 5
- Picture 5
Read our review of the JVC DLA-NZ7
Also consider the Sony VPL-XW5000ES