Designed for constant use in a studio with up to a 20,000-hour high performance lifespan, all serious home theaters will enjoy the crispness of its image, high dynamic range, and precision color.
Sony VPL-GTZ270 4K SXRD Laser Projector
- Accurate grayscale and color
- High Dynamic Range
- Wide Color Gamut
- 4096×2160 resolution
- 3D compatible
- Lens memory including blanking for CIH screens
- Extremely Bright
Sony has been on the leading edge of 4K consumer televisions and projectors since before the availability of 4K content. There’s certainly been an evolution of 4K; first introduced in TVs and projectors as an uptick in resolution only with BT.709 color and standard dynamic range images. We only dreamed that we’d one day have a wider color gamut and high dynamic range. Sony embraced that technology leap with new true 4K HDR wide-gamut projectors. While not inexpensive, they offered a step up in detailed performance to lower-priced 4K imitating e-shift projectors. The VPL-GTZ270 is one of Sony’s largest 4K consumer offerings and is the studio professional version of the consumer VPL-VW5000. Boasting bright, colorful images with a rated 5000-lumen output, it’s well-suited for studio post-production, large screen visitor attractions, and the most demanding home theaters. The VPL-GTZ270 has been in production for two years and still reigns as the top performer. But as older models start to get phased out by new incoming models, it’s worth checking out this beast during its final run.
3 x SXRD, 1.90:1 aspect (16:9 compatible within)
Normal lens – 1.27-2.73:1, Short-throw lens – .8-1.02:1
60” – 300” normal lens, 60” – 1000” short-throw lens
Blue laser diode
2x HDMI 2.0 (HDCP 2.2), 2x Display Port (HDCP 1.3)
2x 12v trigger, RS-232C, RJ-45, IR in/out, Sync in/out, USB Type A
Laser Service Life:
40,000 hours in constant brightness mode; 20,000 hours nominal
21.7 x 10.3 x 29.5 inches
$59,995 without lens, option of VPLL-Z7013 normal focus or the VPLL-Z7008 short focus.
Sony, Sony Projector, Sony VPL-GTZ270, Projector, Projector Reviews 2018
- Optoma UHD51A Ultra HD DLP Projector Review
- BenQ HT2550 4k Ultra HD HDR DLP Projector Review
- JVC DLA-RS4500 4K Projector Review
The Sony VPL-GTZ270 4K SXRD Laser Projector will show the full details of 4K content on screen. There are no tricks here like the e-shift refraction module of JVC and Epson or the rapid-oscillating mirrors of DLP designs found in Optoma, BenQ, ViewSonic, Barco, and Digital Projection. This projector uses the same 4K SXRD panels found in the consumer line, but what makes this device different is that it’s a laser projector with some very serious light output.
In simple terms, the projector has several blue lasers that fire at a spinning yellow phosphor wheel that creates yellow light. All the light is redirected by several dichroic mirrors; these mirrors split the yellow light into red and green, and some of the blue light remains. Once all three colors are separated, each one is sent to its own SXRD panel for red, green, and blue. This is how the current crop of laser projectors work and they can cover the DCI-P3 color gamut within BT.2020, rather than having dedicated red, green, and blue lasers that can fully cover the BT.2020 gamut.
The black chassis is large and is easy to maneuver since it’s designed with handles in the front around the air intakes. This makes lifting it on a shelf or mounting it on a ceiling much easier, though its 88-pound heft means two people are required. The rear of the device has four fans to blow out the hot air and the side panel has all the connections including a small light to illuminate them. There are two HDMI 2.0 ports with HDCP 2.2 and two DisplayPorts with HDCP 1.3 for video sources. You also get connections for sync, USB, and 12v triggers.
You’ll need to choose the lens required for your application and install it on-site. I received the VPLL-Z7013, a normal focus zoom lens with a throw ratio of 1.27 to 2.73:1, ideal for most home theaters with images sizes up to 300” diagonal. Also available is the VPLL-Z7008 short focus zoom lens (.8-1.02:1 throw) which can display images up to 1000” diagonal. I was given the tools to do the install on my own. The screws are permanently attached to the lens, so they don’t fall out or drop on the floor and then there’s a connection for the motorized functions.
The lens and light source are sealed against dust.
The remote control is very simple and includes input selectors, lens functions, and access to image enhancement options. Working with it was a breeze once I memorized the keystrokes. I do wish the lens position button had its own space away from the rest. After my initial setup, it was the only button I needed to use when switching aspect ratios. Shockingly, the remote is not backlit. This is a major omission especially considering this projector’s lofty price tag.
I installed the projector in a room behind the theater as I do with my personal projector. I’ve cut a hole in the wall for the lens to shine through, so I can keep the projector out of the main space. The hole is framed on the outsides and black fabric lines the interior. Not only does my home theater look sleeker by not having a big black box hanging from the ceiling, but it’s also better for audio since I no longer have the projector’s fan noise whirring during quiet film sequences. Even though most projectors are pretty quiet, they can still be heard, especially when the fans speed up in HDR and high bulb modes. In addition to less noise, the temperature in my main room is regulated much better because all projectors output heat, and this Sony does put out heat with its four big fans at the rear. It’s the warmest of all the projectors I’ve come across, but it’s also the largest and the brightest! Despite the low noise rating, the projector still whirs at a noticeable level.
If you consider ceiling mounting this Sony, ensure you chose the correct mount, so it doesn’t tear off your ceiling and come crashing down on the floor or your audience. Death is sure to follow. This projector is so much bigger than my personal one that I couldn’t install it on the stand I usually use. Using a recalled Malm Ikea dresser, cutting three rows of fresh 4x4s, and black fabric to drape over it all to exact size, I now had unassuming stand to hold this almost 90-pound beast. Since many home theaters are in basements and are surrounded by utility rooms, rec rooms and offices, I encourage all my clients to put the projector in a room behind their theater if possible, just like the local cinema!
After a little tilt adjustment with the feet, it was time to set up multiple aspect ratio memories on my EluneVision Reference Studio 4K NanoEdge 2.35:1 screen. With the normal throw lens installed, the remote control provided easy access to the adjustments. Some were easy to make, and some were not. For example, focus and zoom worked like a charm, but the lens shift was always delayed. I could click shift in either direction twenty times and get no movement on the image, only for the next click to completely overshoot my target.
This was a bit frustrating at times, but I eventually got it the way I wanted. Multiple positions can be saved with the lens memory function, which also includes blanking for those of us who don’t want that light spill on a 2.35:1 constant image height screen. I had to tweak the memories a few times and save each time just for the projector to get it right with the memory recall. There always seems to be some slight variation with most projectors during the first install.
I used a Murideo Six-G video pattern generator through a Monster HDMI cable to set up the multiple aspect ratios as well as image quality and verified all video testing with content through the OPPO UDP-205. The projector was able to display all video resolutions that correspond to current content in 1080p and 2160p 10-bit, although the projector can accept signals up to 2160p, 12-bit, 4:2:2. There’s no content currently available that the VPL-GTZ270 cannot play.
There is a plethora of image modes to choose from depending on one’s needs; some are super bright for public spaces and others are better for smaller rooms. The ultra-bright modes were not used for this review because they are too distorted for high fidelity video (and possibly how Sony came up with the 5000-lumen spec). I chose the Reference picture mode for UHD-HDR and the User mode for HD-SDR. I left the HDMI dynamic range set to Auto for this input because home video sources use limited range 16-235 signals. For studio use it can be set to Expanded range 0-255. Each image pre-set has adjustable contrast, brightness color, tint, and sharpness controls including Sony’s Reality Creation processing for 4K upconversion of 1080p content. In addition, the user menus have two-point grayscale controls, full color management, and 10 gamma presets. The CMS adjustments can operate in both BT.709 and BT.2020 gamuts. The user menu adjustments are all useful with appropriate calibration gear to take readings off the screen, but they do have their limits and there are two ways around that.
The first is with Sony’s Projector Manager Software that is offered with the projector. Once connected to the projector via the network, it has all the above controls and then some for your calibration expert. Most importantly is the Advanced Gamma section which allows multipoint grayscale and gamma adjustments not available in the projector’s regular menu. It allows an expert to dial in greater precision when calibrating grayscale and gamma. The D65 color temp preset is deficient in green and the gamma options never quite hit their mark. This software allows one to hit the targets needed by demanding colorists as well as home theater owners seeking the highest precision. If you pass on the Sony software, you can also use the Lumagen Radiance Pro 4K video processor for even more fine-tuning. Using professional calibration software like CalMAN connected to the Lumagen, you can aim your meter at the screen and target the remaining grayscale and gamma adjustments through the video processor. Not only that, the Lumagen has a 17x17x17 LUT (lookup table) for extremely precise colorimetry. A review of this product is coming to SECRETS very soon.
For HDR signals, the projector changes the contrast control but not much else in the picture memory used. For example, the laser light setting (much like a TV’s OLED Light or Backlight control) is shared by HD and UHD signals. This didn’t work for me because the projector is so bright; if I maximized the laser light setting in the Reference image mode for UHD, it was far too bright for HD content. But that adjustment doesn’t change when an HD signal is present. I’d prefer each image mode to have a full complement of settings for HD and another for Ultra HD. As it stands currently, the user must toggle between modes manually.
In the end, I chose to calibrate the Reference mode for UHD-HDR content with my reference white at 293 nits and User 1 for HD-SDR content with reference white at 100 nits as per standard video specification. I had to reduce the laser light setting to hit 100 nits. I’m not a believer in setting a projector to 48 nits (16fL); HD content is created with 100 nits reference and we aren’t viewing the DCI specification at home. Considering the 16:9 portion of my screen is 110”, no 110” television would be set to 48 nits (because we all know those TV sizes are coming). If the projector has the light, use it. After my grayscale, gamma, and color adjustments, it was time to watch video!
WOW!! If anyone still needs convincing that 4K Ultra HD is worth the upgrade from HD, this projector absolutely showed it. On my 10-foot 2.35:1 EluneVision Reference Studio 4K screen, I became addicted almost immediately. Suddenly I didn’t want to go to the gym anymore. My friends would call, and I wouldn’t pick up. My mail began to pile up at the front door and bills weren’t being paid… kidding, but you get the point. I learned to invite my friends over because my UHD disc purchases spiked. I wanted to watch something with every bit of free time I had and show this projector off to everyone I knew. Let’s see, where do I start?
In my previous review of the EluneVision Reference Studio 4K screen I had watched Blade Runner on a JVC projector, so that was fresh in my head. It’s a great medium-output lamp projector that casts bright images on a 110” 16:9 screen, up to about 160 nits in HDR, but at 2K resolution. The Sony VPL-GTZ270 blasted out almost 300 nits calibrated! Blade Runner on the Sony VPL-GTZ270 was a significant step upwards in quality. The explosions of fire and constant signage were knockout bright when they needed to be and were superbly contrasted with the dark blacks on screen. It’s a dark film throughout, and the HDR pass adequately creates a more realistic image with the feeling of film still very much intact. Black levels were deep but were not an absence of light. But considering how much light this projector outputs, they were still much lower than other DLP projectors I’ve viewed. Don’t get me wrong; HDR isn’t bright all the time. In fact, most images display at moderate levels and when scenes require the extra pump, brightness and color rise to the occasion. What makes HDR so wonderful is that the film can be watched at a comfortable viewing level and only the bright portions of the image need to stand out. Combine that with the pixel density afforded by true native 4K, the Sony VPL-GTZ270 showed the leap in depth and resolution comparable to that of 35mm film.
Up next was Braveheart, which nearly brought tears to my eyes when James Horner’s A Gift of a Thistle is first played. When young Murron and William exchange gazes as the thistle is handed over, I have NEVER been so captured by a projected image ever. Using the lens memory to fill the full 2.35:1 screen, Sony so precisely handles these scenes without any unintended pop in color. The ability to play such a broad color palette so accurately is this Sony’s strength, so if the scene is intentionally muted, it’ll be displayed that way. The same can be said for the new 4K release of Gladiator – it is a huge improvement over the Blu-ray and DVD versions. The VPL-GTZ270 delivered all the right hues of Rome and the countryside, and the added contrast made every battle scene an absolute delight to watch over and over.
Moving on from film in a completely different direction, I put on Billy Lynne’s Long Halftime Walk. One of the only 4K 60fps films available on UHD Blu-ray, I wanted to see how a true 4K projector would display this movie on a large screen at a high frame rate. For those of you who haven’t seen this movie, it’s about as realistic looking as we’ve seen anything on a home screen. Some people like it, others hate it. At first, I thought I’d be weirded out like I was when I first saw it on a television screen, but it felt different projected. It didn’t seem ‘sped up’ as it sometimes does on a TV. It doesn’t have the look, feel, or natural blur of film, but it did maintain a feeling of watching a live play acted out in front of me on a constantly-changing stage. Everything is exposed in such high detail. The acting. The sets. The costumes. The extras talking in the background. I can’t decide if it makes the movie seem more fake (just as they all are) or if this is just a badly-acted movie. Movies need to suspend disbelief, but the Sony VPL-GTZ270 projects this one so realistically that the effect felt oddly flat. I think I need to see more productions like this to conclude that thought. Regardless, the Sony’s display of this movie’s hyper-reality is a true testament to its ability to deliver high resolution, high contrast, and realistic colors.
The review sample I received didn’t come with 3D glasses, so I didn’t have the opportunity to test that feature. I continued watching UHD titles such as Dunkirk and Logan (both excellent looking), and Pan (underwhelming). What I did notice was a bit of banding with these discs. If you’re looking for it, it appears occasionally. I checked to ensure the firmware was completely up to date. Changing the contrast control up or down didn’t eliminate the effect, so it’s inherent in the design of the projector for UHD. It wasn’t noticeable at all with the range of legacy HD Blu-ray content I’ve seen on it at home and at studios. I’ve calibrated several of these projectors for my post production clients and the HD is just pure golden images. As I’ve said before, once you have this projector, you’re bringing home the cinema!
One other note of information: the pixels are so small in 4K even on a 10-foot screen, and when walking up to it, it doesn’t look like much of our current content is taking advantage of all the finest details that 4K has to offer. Whether that’s a limitation of today’s 4K transfers, or capturing and rendering in 4K, I can’t say. Like Blu-ray before it, we may see a huge jump in quality in the years to come. Just drop in a Blu-ray from 2006 and see what you think of it today!
For those into the calibration numbers, this part is for you. To test the image of the Sony VPL-GTZ270, I used the Konica-Minolta CS-1000A spectroradiometer with CalMAN software, and HD/UHD-HDR test patterns came from the Murideo SIX-G pattern generator. All measurements were taken while projecting 1.78:1 images to an approximately 110” diagonal image on the EluneVision Reference Studio 4K 1.0 gain screen.
I chose to calibrate in User 1 mode because it allowed me to create another Reference mode. The image is a little warm or a little blue depending on the brightness level – not horrendous for a user preset, but the gamma is incorrect in nearly every mode. This flaw is common to all Sony projectors. Using the projector’s grayscale menu controls, I was able to correct it, then adjust it more precisely using Sony’s Projection manager software. This is where the software’s Advanced Gamma controls really made a difference It can be further improved with a device like the Lumagen Radiance Pro 4442 4K Video Processor which helps eliminate small variations in grayscale and gamma.
Sony VPL-GTZ User 1 Mode, grayscale & gamma, pre-calibration
Sony VPL-GTZ User 1 Mode, grayscale & gamma, post-calibration
After grayscale calibration, the color measured extremely well with only a little bit of CMS adjustment required for red and blue. Each color measured right on its x,y coordinates and the color brightness was exactly where it needed to be. Overall, this projector exhibits insanely awesome color fidelity in HD, worthy for content creation as well as playback of HD.
Sony VPL-GTZ User 1 Mode, BT.709 color gamut, post-calibration
I didn’t expect grayscale and color to measure as precisely as it did in SDR mode, and I was right. There are far more levels of gray in 10-bit HDR and most of the adjustments in the projector are too coarse to dial in with extreme precision. Again, a device like the Lumagen Pro 4442 4K video processor can assist with this since it’s a bit beyond what the Sony Projection manager software can do. Otherwise, the projector can hit DCI-P3 targets which is what we’re aiming for. With the calibration completed, the image looked great. If the projector and test patterns are set at the start to display at least 48 nits at brightness level 507 and roll off just around 720, then we’ll have a bright image with most content not forced into clipping. Many UHD Blu-ray players can help with a user’s preference in tone mapping since this projector has an abundance of light. Decisions that might be made with a moderate or low light output projection may not need to be made here.
Sony VPL-GTZ Reference Picture Mode, grayscale, post-calibration
Sony VPL-GTZ Reference Picture Mode, BT.2020 gamut, post-calibration
THE SONY VPL-GTZ270 4K SXRD LASER PROJECTOR maintains studio-reference images at very bright levels. At $59,999, it’s a statement HD and UHD-HDR projector for post-production studios, public spaces, and ultimate home theaters.
- Excellent HD color and grayscale
- Very sharp 4K resolution
- Very bright, contrast useful for HDR
- Better-labelled and backlit remote
- Image presets separately optimized for HD and UHD
- Lower fan noise
- Faster switching between signal sources
I’m going to miss this projector. After seeing such a phenomenal image for so long, I’ll need to adjust to viewing dimmer images in my theater again. Even though resolution is often downplayed as an important factor among UHD features, its benefit is very visible when compared to watching e-shift devices. But this projector shines with its bright light while maintaining color fidelity. In comparison, the big DLP devices touting HDR are limited to BT.709 color at best and have less than optimal tone mapping. I’ve calibrated a variety of them and the advantages of this Sony are on another level.
Moving forward, I’d like the remote to have better labelling and a backlight. I’d like it if picture memory settings could be saved and recalled when the signal changes rather than having to scroll through the menu and change it manually. I’d also like the switching between signals to be faster, but a wait time is common with all UHD displays.
There are several products Sony offers currently, and there are many just about to be replaced by new models just announced at CEDIA 2018. As new models push out old ones, this might be a great time to get any 4K Sony projector at an attractive price. If you are considering the best of the best, the VPL-GTZ270 is it. As I’ve already mentioned, it is the projector of choice for movie post-production studios and that is a very important endorsement. To use the same projector in your home theater means the chances of finding anything better in this performance category is likely impossible. The Sony VPL-GTZ270 is designed for precision and performance and it lives up to that intent. This projector is without a doubt my favorite and is a clear winner. Absolutely recommended!