Sony VPL-VW95ES Projector Review

Sony VPL-VW95ES Gamma Modes

Sony again offers 10 different preset gamma modes (#11 is “off” (default). Last year Mike took a closer look at the Gamma modes of the VW90ES. The rest of this paragraph is from that projector. It should give you a good idea about the 95ES, but we did not check for real changes: Per Mike’s measurements, the gamma mode closest to the target of 2.2 is gamma 4, which averaged 2.23 gamma. Four is a great mode for movies, though purists who remember CRT home theater projectors might be happier with a higher gamma. There is some correlation between the gamma numbers (2,3,8,9, etc.) and their performance, but it seems almost like two groupings, gammas 1-5, and 6-10. I hadn’t asked Mike to take a close look to determine what Sony’s doing, so he just comes back with the best recommendation, in this case: Gamma 4. The higher gammas generally aren’t as “linear.” Mike reported last year.

That is to say, one of those non-linear gammas might just alter the lower end – the darker areas, not the brighter ones, whereas 1-5 are linear. One of the higher ones, for example might have an average gamma of 2.1, but average 2.2, everywhere except for between 10 and 20 IRE, where it might be only 1.8 (that would lighten dark shadow detail).

 

CFI - Sony MotionFlow

Sony does a very nice job with their creative frame interpolation. The low setting is pretty free of the soap opera – “live digital video” affect on film movies, but there is still enough that shows on some scenes that purists will skip CFI on movies, and save for sports, and some other existing digital content. A very good CFI regardless of price.

 

Sony SXRD panels - (LCoS)

A sort of short history of LCoS panels in projectors: It is true, that the largest percentage of home theater projectors use either DLP or 3LCD technology. Sony uses Liquid Crystal on Silicon, a reflective panel, as opposed to the translucent typical LCD panels. Sony calls their LCoS implementation SXRD. In the under $10,000 price range, JVC and Sony are the primary manufacturers of LCoS home theater projectors. Canon also manufactures their own but doesn’t offer home projectors. LG recently has rolled out several projectors using Sony’s LCoS panels.

There are always trade-offs, but in the past, JVC has managed better native blacks – no dynamic iris, than the Sony. Previous Sony’s for the most part fell well short of the JVC’s even with a Sony dynamic iris. I don’t know if it’s new panels in the 95ES or some other reason, but Sony’s blacks are better than ever.

Individual SXRD panel adjustment

Once again, Sony provides alignment capabilities. The digital shifting is done across the whole screen, or can be done zone by zone. The bottom line, this Sony goes about as far as anyone in allowing adjustment for the usual slight misalignment of the panels. The end result is maximizing sharpness, although once adjusted, the result is only slightly improved, not dramatic. (Any improvement, is a good thing – by definition.) In a perfect world it would be great to actually get perfect alignment out of the panels, and not rely on digital correction. Still, Leeloo looks awfully sharp in the image above, and that’s after lots of processing.

 

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