So finally I was able to get my hands on the much talked about new 4K kid on the block from Sony. Coming in at about half the size of the 1100ES (their flagship 4K model) the new 600ES is still quite the projector. And that is a huge compliment when you consider the difference in price. The 600ES not only has some impressive specs but it also throws an impressive image. The moment it is turned on you see a bright, very sharp and vivid image. I basically started with all my previous settings on the 1000/1100ES. I liked most of them and was able to tweak from there with excellent results. Just make sure you do the new firmware (1.006) which they released to fix a couple of minor issues. It can be found here. I do believe the image ended up a little sharper afterwards. The procedure to do it is very simple. Just download the file and save it to your desktop. Extract the files and send them over to a USB flash drive. Makes sure your 500 is off and insert the card. Turn it on and it will automatically read the USB and update itself. The lights on the front will flash and then the On/Standby button will go Red and it is finished. Pull out your USB flash drive and Bob's your uncle. That easy!
Looking at Blu-ray 2D it is easy to see why everyone is excited about the 600ES.
The detail is terrific. Shadow detail is very good as well. This is the absolute closest performance I have seen to the 1100ES in person. And I was able to put them up and repeat the same scenes over and over for the past few days. Yes my arms got a nice workout! The 600ES upscales sources to its native 4K resolution. Looking at the specs between the 600 and 1100 the main stand out is Contrast ratio. 1,000,000 to 1 versus 200,000 to 1. Also the quality of lenses. After having both up and running the 1100 is definitely sharper. The colors also are more vivid (noticeable with sports) and the inner depth is stronger. That contrast ratio difference has to come into play somewhere. And the biggest most alarming difference which I will discuss in more detail later is the 3D.
So what does the 600ES do slightly better than the 1100ES? MOTION! Sony before never recommended using their Motionflow with 1080p/24 Blu-ray titles. With the 600ES they have a True Cinema mode which is specifically designed for it. It does not make the movies have the dreaded soap opera effect many of us hate. Testing with slow pans between both projectors the difference hit me. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty has various scenes which made A/B testing easy. So what else can help make up the contrast difference and give the 600 more of a punch? Their new Contrast Enhancer setting which corrects the level of bright and dark part automatically to optimize contrast according to scene does make a difference. I set it to Middle for most movies. I set it to high for movies like Despicable Me 2. They took the Black level adjustment away (the Black level button from the 1100 remote even does the Contrast Enhancer on the 600ES) and gave us this new adjustment. I actually saw little artifact by engaging it. Once I got used to the extra "umph" I noticed when it wasn't on. Love it!
So now let's jump into 3D and why I am not a fan of it with the 600ES. At least not yet. Sony decided to switch to RF glasses which I am very happy they finally made the switch from IR. Problem is they didn't add a RJ45 3D Sync connection like they have on all of their previous projectors that do 3D. That means we do not have a way to use our favorite 3D glasses. The "comfortable" ones from Optoma and Monster. The ones we did try with the 600ES were from Xpand (chargeable) and Sony's (uses batteries) new ones. The Xpands squeeze the heck out of your temples. I can make it about 30 minutes with them on. I will say it was cool seeing the 600ES say the 3D glasses were "Registered" on the screen. I just hope someone (or Sony) comes up with comfortable RF glasses that will work with the 600ES. The Sony's though tolerable do squeeze on the nose somewhat. So how was the picture in 3D? We compared Frozen in 3D. This movie has demo material and is "in your room" in many scenes. Thank you Amazon UK for sending Frozen 3D! The 600ES is very solid but still the contrast in 3D is just not as close as the 1100. Brightness is good but still as expected (and in the specs) still a little less than the 1100. Of course there has to be differences. Why would they make a 15K MSRP projector the same as their 28K MSRP Flagship model? Still don't fret if you don't A/B you will be happy! Let's just keep our fingers crossed for better RF glasses...
The 1100 is a lot bigger but the 600 still proves tough to beat!
Under the Lamp Cover is the Bluetooth 3D Sync Transmitter...Hmmm
Sports... So as good as motion looked on Blu-ray it looked just as good with sports. If not better! The Bright TV which is what I use for sports had the Motionflow default set at Smooth Low. It is a good setting. I could easily make out the laces on the football while it was in the air and right before it hit the receiver's hands. Same for the basketball around the rim. Cool! I had the Contrast Enhancer set to high. Colors were vibrant. Sony has always had the best projectors for sports and the 600ES definitely does not disappoint. I also liked Gamma 10 (same for movies) because it increases sharpness and resembles my past favorite 9. The Advanced Iris I had it on Full. Reality Creation which is their "Super Resolution function" adjusts the detail and noise in the image. The default was at 50 on the 600ES. I bumped it down to 40 for sports (Movies 25) and put Noise Filtering at 10. The Color Space was at 3. Bottom line for sports you can't go wrong!
For a 15K MSRP projector the inputs are a bit on the light side. You get two HDMI inputs at least. The remote is just like their past models. And once again no direct input buttons which is to be expected. It lights up nicely (not too bright) and does fit into your hand nicely. At least we get direct picture mode buttons.
The FMP-X1 4K Media player (the puck) showed the 600ES's full potential. I checked out Elysium and was very happy with the results. The 600ES looks its absolute best with "good" 4K material. Of course there is not a lot of it out there. The best material are the free 4K video samples. Still, Blu-ray 2D still looks very close. My Vutec SilverStar 3D 133" curved screen (Review here) was always more than bright enough. The 600ES was mounted about 15 feet back. Whether you splurge and do 4K now or stick with Blu-ray for now both offer great eye candy...
The amount of detail you can see is amazing!
Equipment used for all or part of this Review:
Sony VPL-VW600ES & 1100ES, McIntosh MX151
Simplay Labs DVDO DUO VP, Pioneer SC-79 Receiver/Pre-Pro, DirecTV Genie, Xbox 360, PS3, Monster Power HTS 5100, Oppo 103D Blu ray, Monster/Optoma, Sony, Xpand 3D glasses, Parasound HALO A51 AMP x 2, Antec Component Coolers, Vutec SilverStar Curved 3D 133" Screen, Speakers: MARTIN LOGAN STAGE X Center, THEOS (Left and Right), VANQUISH (Surrounds & Heights), AXIS (Backs), Subwoofers- Martin Logan DESCENT i, BG Woofer SW210, Dayton APA150 Sub AMP x 2, 8 Aura Pro Bass Shakers, 8 Black Seatcraft Venetian Home Theater Chairs, Remote: Harmony 1100. Monster 1000 HDX Ultimate HDMI cables top to bottom. And two Monster 35 foot HDX Hyperspeed HDMI cables.
Thanks again (and again) to Audio Video Interiors Chicago for getting me a 600ES to spend some time with. If you are ever in their area (by Oakbrook Mall) stop in and check them out. You can also have a nice lunch at Ditka's Restaurant which is within walking distance. Give Noah a call at (630) 607-0054 and tell him hello from me. Oh and make sure you ask him about the Sony VW600ES or 1100ES. Meanwhile, enjoy the pics below from their store...
Final thoughts... Sony really could have almost called this projector the 1100ES Lite. And I am not referring to its smaller size! Its performance is that good. At least in 2D it is. The most common question I get asked is does 4K make a difference these days? It definitely does. Especially on larger screens. With 4096 x 2160 resolution and pixels one quarter the size of my previous 1080p projectors you can sit as close to the screen as you like. And when we went to a larger screen recently our movie presentations have never been better. The VPL-VW600ES features the same technology found in high-end, professional 4K movie theaters. And at home doing Blu-ray movies with 24p True Cinema gives you smoother and sharper motion. Sony has changed the meaning of "Home Theater" as we know it. Their 4K projectors prove it!