When is 4K not really 4K? It turns out defining what constitutes Ultra HD isn’t always the same, especially when you’re talking projectors.
Home theatre can be super confusing. When you’re not trying to get out of the muddle that is terms and jargon — the HDMI and ARC, and all those new HiFi technologies — you then have the setup to work with and then standards you might be trying to match. And if you’re in the process of converting your living room to a proper cinema, well, you go have fun. There’s screen and sound and cables and cableless, oh my!
Making heads or tails of some of these things isn’t easy, and while we used to flock to the cinema to watch films, the quick availability of movies these days combined with the sheer quality of technology means the movie theatre at home might be just as strong a concept as the one you go out to, and this week, Sony wants to point something out: the technology used in its 4K projectors for home is actually pretty damn close to the tech used in its professional cinema projectors.
Sure, there’s a difference of brightness, because the movie cinema you visit has to project a larger image and needs more lumens to do it, but inside the projector, much of the hardware and the standards that hardware has to reach are the same.
And that’s because of those standards. Sony also being a film production company and a camera company helps give it the entire process, from workflow to finished work, making the whole thing fit standards, such as what the 4K standard actually is.
At home and on TVs, the standard of Ultra HD 4K is 3840×2160, but true 4K actually has a few more pixels, measure 4096×2160. The technology is similar, but not the same, and films presented through a proper 4K system are matched to the standard they were created for.
Films released in 4K are technically compatible with both, and that’s why you don’t really see anyone complaining about a few pixels lost or gained: whether you buy an Ultra HD 4K TV or a true 4K projector, your experience is similar, but it’s about the experience you’re trying to get.
“With Sony, it truly is from lens to lounge room,” said Sony Australia’s Michael Bromley. “With Sony’s history and the fact that it is the same technology that is used in our digital cinema projectors are in our Home Cinema projectors, we are clearly committed to high end, true, native 4K projectors and projection.”
This year, those projectors include models with names you’d never remember off the top of your head, including the VPL-VW260ES, VW360ES, and the VW760ES, models that start around the $8K price and hit close to $24K depending on where you find them at. While the prices are big, the size they can project at equally large, too. That big one may go for a high price, but it uses laser light at 2000 lumens and can nail a screen size measuring anywhere between 1.5 metres to an insane seven metres. Crazy.
Projectors are, of course, a very different beast to TVs, but if size and 4K purity are what you’re after — or you’re just keen to recreate the cinema experience at home and you have an extra room to make it happen — you’ll find these in specialist stores now.