Sony VPL-VW85 Projector Review

Nice! The Sony VW85 is a great projector. It’s extremely well balanced. It’s not without minor flaws, but technically, it’s well done and puts a great picture up on the screen. You’ll be spending something approaching $8000 and you have a right to expect an excellent picture, and the Sony VPL-VW85 will deliver. Even the remote control is particularly excellent.

Fancy features:

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The Sony is pretty well endowed. It’s creative frame interpolation is fine for sports but like CFI in general, it changes film movies enough to be “fun” but to no longer accuratey reflect the “director’s intent”. There are at least a couple of other dynamic controls in addition to the dynamic iris. Let me put it this way. Things like dynamic contrast, sharpness, etc., deliver their desired affects but also detract slightly from the original.

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What I found instead, was a projector that far exceeded those expectations, because a projector just meeting them, would have left the Sony, overall, still coming up noticeably short of the JVC competition. The Sony VPL-VW85 has significantly improved black level performance. They have effectively closed the gap between them and the JVC RS25, that the difference is only one slight advantage for the JVC, not an overpowering strength as had been the contest last year. And with that virtual parity in black levels, and adding in some of the Sony strengths, and the VPL-VW85 is now effectively the equal to any under $10,000 projector I’ve seen so far. It may not be the best one for your situation, but is certainly one to be reckoned with by all wanting a really excellent projector.

The very bottom line:

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What a surprise! I had expected a really first class projector, with very good black levels, excellent color, and a host of features. I also expected a projector that wouldn’t be overly bright, but then not everyone needs a really large screen, nor wants to watch with lights on. I expected this year’s Sony, like so many other projectors this season, to be only a very slightly improved replacement, with an extra feature or two, such as CFI.

 

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Sony VPL-VW85 Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities

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Sony VPL-VW85 Projector: Pros

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  • Excellent Color with particularly good skin tones (with a hint of too much red)
  • Slightly above average brightness in “best” movie mode
  • Superb black level performance
  • Very good shadow detail performance
  • If not using the dynamic iris, manual iris allows you to dial down brightness for smaller screen, which in turn increases contrast and black level performance slightly.
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  • Good quality CFI (MotionFlow) creative frame interpolation, best for sports, and digital source material
  • Outputs 24 frame per second sources at 96 fps
  • Excellent remote control with very good range, excellent backlight, good organization
  • Good color management system
  • Good placement flexibility (1.6:1 zoom, lens shift)
  • Focus, Zoom and Lens shift all motorized
  • Very good menus
  • Expensive but it performs – it offers a good value proposition

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