The image you get from Sony’s newly unveiled $30,000 4K projector isn’t as good as the image you’ll get from one of the company’s many pricey but still far-less-expensive OLED TVs. But the presentation you get from having this incredible projector in your room instead of a dull black TV is unquestionably worth the trade-off. That is, as long as you’re spectacularly rich and highly focused on the interior design of your hip and modern new apartment.
I don’t know who, if anyone, will actually buy this thing — known as the 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector. Sony suggests it’s meant more for businesses that want an impressive piece for their lobby, since it also includes built-in speakers. There are a lot of better ways businesses could spend their money, but this option definitely works if showing off is their objective.
The most impressive thing about the projector is its style: it looks like a really nice coffee table. The top and bottom of the projector are covered in smooth white marble. There’s a metal grille in between them, and beneath it all is a wooden platform. There are also two aluminum legs, which actually serve as a pair of speakers — the top of them is hollow glass that vibrates to emit sound. Given the price, I don’t know that you’d want to rest any drinks on this thing, but it’s certainly big enough that you could.
Unfortunately, a lot of this projector’s price tag seems to have gone into its build quality. Most of the videos Sony was playing at its booth appeared a little washed out, without as much color detail as its standard TV sets. It’s possible that Sony was just playing some poor source material — although CES demos are usually designed to make colors as bright and saturated as possible — and there was one demo, a clip from the new Jumanji, that looked every bit as good as it’s supposed to.
It got pretty bright, though, and the videos appeared quite clear in a dimly lit room. But I would still want to get a much better sense of image quality before committing to buying this thing. The projector’s sound quality seemed a little soft and muddy, too. Though again, the CES show floor isn’t the best place to demo home theater products.
The projector is an updated version of the $25,000 4K short throw projector that Sony unveiled at CES last year. That one looked like an enormous heat sink and didn’t include speakers, but the video quality is supposed to be identical between the two.
That means the real change here is the focus on design, and the $30,000 projector’s design is really the most innovative thing about it. While it’s hard to imagine there will be many people who buy it at this outrageous price, I hope that Sony and others will keep moving their products in this direction to the point where it becomes more affordable to access this melding of tech and style. It’d be much nicer to design your living room around a chic coffee table / projector than around an enormous TV, as basically everyone does today.
Sony isn’t the only company that’s realized people want more in the way of design from their TV. Samsung recently starting selling a TV it calls the Frame, which — like the name suggests — is framed like a painting and is supposed to stay on, displaying photos and art to decorate your room. Sony’s newest projector very much plays into that trend. But for now, if that’s something you’re interested in, you’re better off shopping Samsung: its TV is an order of magnitude less expensive.
Photography by Jacob Kastrenakes / The Verge