Sony VPL-VW95ES Projector Review

Once again, when dealing with an ultra high contrast projector, such as this Sony VPL-VW95ES, as a 2D projector, life is pretty simple. With very good best mode brightness, you shouldn’t need a high gain screen, and you certainly don’t need a high contrast gray screen to lower overall black levels to make letterboxes and blacks – blacker. The Sony’s black level performance is really excellent.

What you do need, is to match the screen to the room and its lighting and ambient issues. Now this projector is built for a dedicated home theater – or at least a room resembling a cave.

There’s a catch, though, and that’s because the VPL-VW95ES is also a capable 3D projector. Now, remember, while 3D accomplished with passive glasses (polarized), does require a special 3D screen, that’s not the case with active shutter glasses, which dominate home theater 3D.

So, where does that leave you, if you want 3D as well as 2D?

The big issue becomes brightness, of course.

This Sony is much better prepared for 3D than last year’s projector. Thanks to the VPL-VW95ES being about 1/3 brighter, plus improved design in 3D handling, and likely glasses improvements as well, the VW95ES seems much more capable in terms of having what it takes for 3D – brightness. While last year’s projector left less than happy watching, when filling a 100″ diagonal 16:9 image on my Studiotek 130, this year’s VW95ES looks rather good in 3D at that size. I must further confess that I did try watching what little 2.35:1 content I have (Monster House) in 3D, filling the full 124″ of my screen. Sadly, I must report that I was not satisfied pushing the Sony that far. Still, the point is, you can enjoy 3D on an average sized screen – say 100 – 110″ and have respectable brightness while your lamp is fairly new.

If you want to go a bit larger than that, perhaps go with a slightly higher gain screen. Still, I’m not a fan of screens with gains of, say higher than 1.8, and am most comfortable with 1.3 – 1.4 where the trade-offs are negligible.

You also can certainly go with two screens. perhaps a nice fixed wall screen for 2D, again, if in a theater, something like my Studiotek 130, a white surface with moderate gain. Then, how about a hi-gain motorized screen for when you want to really crank 3D. (which is often when watching 3D HDTV and sports).

A two screen system is an interesting idea, although I imagine few will go that route.

One last thing to consider: If ever you wanted a larger screen for more immersion – that time would be when watching 3D. I certainly wish my screen was larger for 3D. There are times when watching 3D content on HDTV, where I’ll just stand about 5 feet from the screen for the greater immersion. Boy am I hooked.

Bottom line – the Sony has just enough brightness to give you a respectable one screen solution, as long as you don’t want to go really large, or go with a high power screen.

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