Sony VPL-VW85 Projector - Performance
1/4/2010 - Art Feierman
Sony VPL-VW85 Brightness
The Sony VPL-VW85 Brightness is better than the older VW70 it replaces.
Interestingly, last year, in measuring the VW70, Mike found that it wasn't measuring as bright when the dynamic iris was engaged. That wasn't a very good thing, since in best mode viewing you'll normally want the dynamic iris on, for better blacks.
This year, however, the VPL-VW85 doesn't seem to lose any lumens when Auto 1 or Auto 2 - the two dynamic iris choices are engaged.
Last year, the VW70 measured 362 lumens with iris engaged and 555 without. This year, the projector measured post calibration, 598 lumens with the iris off, and, pre-calibration, just slightly higer with the iris engaged. Use the 598 lumen number for best mode brightness.
In addition, in terms of brightest mode, the VW85 manages a below average 725 lumens, but that's still better than last year's VW70's 636 lumens.
In other words, this year's Sony VPL-VW85 is, overall a small step up in overall brightness, with the VW85 being slightly brighter than average in "best mode" but still var below average in "brightest mode". That translates nicely into a projector for movie enthusiasts, who aren't worried about viewing with some ambient light present, as would be the case for HDTV and sports.
The measured brightness of each mode (pre-calibration):
Lumen Output and Color Temp at 100 IRE (mid zoom):
Dynamic= 559 @ 10396
Standard= 619 @ 8774
Cinema 1= 631 @ 6983
Cinema 2= 604 @ 6408
Cinema 3= 631 @ 6990
User= 631 @ 6984
Pre-calibration we measured these color temperatures (target is 6500K) over the grayscale range, for
Color Temp over IRE Range (Best Mode, Pre calibration):
30 IRE 6649
50 IRE 6606
80 IRE 6453
100 IRE 6408
Effect of zoom on lumen output (Cinema 1 mode used):
Zoom out: 675
Zoom in: 529
OK, here's what it looks like, post calibration:
Color Temp over IRE Range (Post calibration):
20 IRE 6503
30 IRE 6587
40 IRE 6561
50 IRE 6519
60 IRE 6480
70 IRE 6420
80 IRE 6520
90 IRE 6560
100 IRE 6413
Average gamma (using default Gamma 6) = 2.19
For those interested in using the iris in manual mode here are some brightness measurements:
Effect of Iris settings on lumen output (Cinema 1):
Iris on Manual (maximum opening) = 572
Iris on Manual (50% open) = 439
Iris on Manual (minimum opening) = 240
Iris on Auto 1 or 2 = 623
Sony VPL-VW85 Sharpness
If only some of these excellent LCoS and 3LCD projectors could have perfect panel convergence. If so, they would rival the DLP's for sharpness. As it is, the Sony is just average among 1080p projectors, when it comes to perceived sharpness.
Top left: Sony VPL-VW85, Top Center, Sony HW15, Top right: JVC RS25
2nd row left: Panasonic PT-AE4000, middle: InFocus IN83, right: Vivitek H9080FD (pricey LED source DLP projector)
Close up of a computer monitor, from Space Cowboys (Blu-ray), left to right VPL-VW85, VPL-HW15, Epson 9500UB, and Optoma HD8600.
Sony VPL-VW85: Bottom Line Sharpness
The Sony VPL-VW85 is just one more reasonably sharp LCoS projector. Overall, while there is some variation from one good LCoS or LCD projector to another, all are 3 "chip" devices that have to be converged, and that's never perfect. As a result, while the Sony looks reasonably sharp for a 1080p projector, it's definitely visibly not as sharp as most of the DLP projectors out there. Side by side, the sharpness difference between the VW85 and, say the old InFocus IN83, or the Optoma HD8600 or the Planar PD8150 is going to be easily discerned. Most of the better DLP projectors that are single chip are either "razor sharp" or close to it, while the VW85 and most non-DLP projectors are just "reasonably sharp". Or, another way of putting it: The Sony VPL-VW85 is average in sharpness for a 1080p projector, but not a match for the better 1080p projectors, which are definitely "sharper still."
Light leakage is not a problem with the VPL-VW85. There is minor light leakage through the lens, especially if you are using the full lens shift, but the levels are low enough not to be a factor. Also of note, the actual LCoS panel is slightly larger than 1920x1080 so there is sort of a very dark band around the image (non-issue).
The Sony VW85 is very good, when it comes to image noise. Background noise is less than most projectors, and general image noise levels should prove to be below virtually any DLP projector competiton, but similar to other LCoS projectors and 3LCD models, as well.
The VPL-VW85 is about average (or a little better) at audible noise as well. The Sony claims 22 db in eco-mode (low lamp power), which is better than most projectors. Sony does not provide a spec for full power operation, but it probably isn't more than an extra 5 or 6 db. The noisier home theater projectors at full power, tend to be up in the 31-34 db range, so this is a sonically quieter unit than many. Even for those who are the most noise adverse should be able to live with the VW85 at full power, and certainly, at low power.