Sony VPL-VW85 Projector Review

The Sony VPL-VW85 is the middle projector in Sony’s SXRD (LCoS) home theater projector lineup. There’s a much more expensive VPL-VW200, and the much less expensive VPL-HW15 (which we’ve reviewed).

The Sony VPL-VW85 is a larger projector, it sports a motorize zoom lens, and lens shift. It’s reasonably good looking, physically more attractive than most, but it’s the performance that will have you putting a serious dent in that credit card.

Sony VPL-VW85 Projector Overview

The Sony VPL-VW85 is the middle projector in Sony’s SXRD (LCoS) home theater projector lineup. There’s a much more expensive VPL-VW200, and the much less expensive VPL-HW15 (which we’ve reviewed).

The Sony VPL-VW85 is a larger projector, it sports a motorize zoom lens, and lens shift. It’s reasonably good looking, physically more attractive than most, but it’s the performance that will have you putting a serious dent in that credit card.

The Sony VPL-VW85 has a dynamic iris to achieve its best black levels. It seems though, this year, Sony has improved the light engine so that black level performance is noticeably improved. This Sony seems less dependent on its iris thanks to better native blacks. Or rather, the end result, is much improved black level performance.

One would certainly expect the Sony name to assure you of at least very good color. The VW85 delivers – post calibration, while not perfect, its still one of the best. There is a very slight emphasis on reds in skin tones that remained after Mike’s calibration, but a second attempt might well reduce that shift. Even so, “look’n good!”

As will be discussed, picture quality is very good overall, a blend of excellent color, and superior black levels, and decent brightness (more would be better).

The Sony VPL-VW85 is for the person with a good, light controlled room, a not too large screen, a desire for a truly excellent picture, and willing to pay the price.

VPL-VW85 Projector Highlights

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  • One of the absolute best under $10,000 projectors
  • Very good color out of the box, excellent, post calibration
  • Brightness in best mode, better than last year, is above average – with 598 lumens measured after calibration
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  • Brightness is definitely below average in brightest mode, when you need extra lumens for ambient light -we measured a slightly depressing 727 lumens
  • Significantly improved black level performance, while still not the best, so close that it has to be considered comparable
  • Sony adds CFI – creative frame interpolation this year
  • Zoom lens is moderately short thow, may not work shelf mounted, in deep rooms, or in typical rooms with small to medium sized screens
  • Adjustable vertical and horizontal lens shift, not as much range as some, but not bad at all!
  • Dynamic iris offers very smooth operation
  • Image sharpness is just average for a 1080p projector
  • Premium projector, premium price: Good value. If you want this level of picture quality, the price is very reasonable. While not drastically better than the best $2000 – $3500 projectors, those craving top performance won’t have a problem rationalizing the $7500 retail price of the VPL-VW85

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