Sony VPL-VW95ES Home Cinema Projector - Review Summary
The Sony VPL-VW95ES receives our Hot Product award. The latest and top of the line 1080p (2K) home theater projector from Sony is a serious player in its price range.
This Sony is first and foremost a projector for a dedicated home theater, or other room optimized for viewing. Sure, you can drop one of these in a family room with off-white walls, but for various reasons, this VPL-VW95ES just won't give you as much bang for the buck as it will in a room geared for movie watching! In the right room, however...
12/10/2011 - Art Feierman
Sony VPL-VW95ES Projector - The Bottom Line
When one considers projectors in the $5,000 - $10,000, the number of choices starts thinning out, compared to the number of projectors, say, in the $2000 - $3500 range. This Sony VPL-VW95ES LCoS projector - SXRD - competes against projectors such as the Mitsubishi HC9000D, a couple of JVCs, an assortment of "high end brands", including Runco, SIM2, Digital Projection, and of course, the best of the much lower priced projectors.
This is Sony's 2nd generation 3D capable projector, and as such, it has made some really big strides in just the year since the VW90ES came out. 3D is smoother, 3D is a lot brighter (huge!), 2D is brighter too, that can mean bigger screens folks! And of course the usual minor improvements as well.
The Sony VW projectors have always produced excellent color. Post calibration, the VW95ES has what I can best describe as, natural skin tones. The Sony projects an image that looks much better than these images on a computer display. The image immediately below, in particular, is absolutely breathtaking filling a 100" diagonal screen!
HDTV image from the 2011 Victoria Secret special: Considering all the special lighting, those skin tones sure look great!
And the Sony VPL-VW95ES looks (almost) equally as good (as the model, above) on the dark scene below, from Narnia: Dawn Treader. (I like dragons, but the image above, is still better subject matter).
The Sony comes right out of the box with some pretty good color performance, that only gets better with calibration. The important "stuff" regarding that, per Mike our calibrator, is that grayscale and gamma are excellent right out of the box. No real need for a CMS calibration. In other words, easy to calibrate, too.
Above: Star Trek's Captain Pike
While most of this Sony projector's improvement is in 3D and brightness, those improvements are major. Unless you are completely 3D phobic, the Sony VPL-VW95ES projector is a much better value proposition than the 90ES was last year at the same price. That's real progress!
Above: Ernest Borgnine and Bruce Willis in RED
The Sony offers very good placement flexibility. The VW95ES is designed to be rear shelf mounted, if desired. However, the 1.6:1 zoom probably won't allow most folks to rear shelf mount unless they have a particularly large screen for their room size.
Above: From Quantum of Solace
Brightness: I won't go on about 3D again, but just as a reminder - in 2D, the VW95ES measured (lens - at mid-point), a very healthy 725 lumens. Easily enough for say a 130 inch screen, or even a bit larger. Brightest mode just gets up to about 1000 lumens - rather average for a projector, but more than the other recently reviewed LCoS projectors from Mitsubishi and JVC.
Saints vs. Giants - it was a great game, and looked great too.
The Very Bottom Line on the VPL-VW95ES projector:
It's true, that the Sony VPL-VW95ES is loaded with all kinds of controls and settings. The menus are just about dripping in them. 10 different gammas - and you can edit them, a full color management system, lots of 3D options, and so on.
Essentially, his Sony projector can really appeal to enthusiasts - performance, and the abiility to play with - to tweak the projector when desired.
Perhaps the most typical owner of the VPL-WV95ES, though, is likely to be the kind of person, who if you asked him a year or two after it's up and running, "What projector do you own?" would respond with. "A Sony, I think?"
That is to say, this Sony, like a couple other projectors (including the Runco), is one of those projectors that you aren't supposed to notice. There should be nothing about the projector or its idiosyncrocies that gets between you and the content you are watching. (That is key reason I really don't like CFI on, when watching most movies.)
In fact the reason I think many owners won't remember the model, but that it's a Sony, will be because of the remote and startup screens.
Above: From The Fifth Element, Below: Red
Seriously, though. This is a first class projector. It seems to suffer not a single, really noticeable flaw. 3D's pretty good as far as I can tell, definitely improved dramatically over last year, between the 3D itself and brightness.
You'll be doing most of your watching in 2D, at least for quite some time to come, and the Sony is silky smooth for 2D with those rich blacks, and some great skin tones.
I'll be looking forward to reviewing other new projectors in the $5K - $20K price range over the upcoming months, but so far, thanks to big improvements over last year's, the Sony looks like a Hot Product for those that want a really fine viewing experience in their home theaters and for folks looking for a projector and likely, a quality local installing organization to get them up and running. Can you say, "American Express?"
Sony VPL-VW95ES Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities
Image above, from The Fifth Element, Blu-ray disc
Sony VPL-VW95ES Projector: Pros
- Excellent color, and overall picture quality, post calibration
- Superb black level performance with a smooth iris
- Very good CFI - smooth (some may even like with movies)
- Well above average brightness in "best" movie mode
- Reasonably bright for 3D considering other projectors in this class
- 2D->3D and 3D->2D if you want to use them
- 4 settings for glasses brightness/artifacts (I recommend #2 or #3)
- Dynamic iris action very smooth, lots of range
- Zoom, Focus, Lens shift, are all motorized
- Lens Memory - to easily support using a 2.35:1 "Cinemascope" shaped screen
- Supports anamorphic lens (with or without sled)
- Wide variety of color presets, gamma and other features
- Very good menu layout
- Really good documentation (rare)
- Very good placement flexibility
- Extremely good 3D image quality
- Reasonably quiet projector
- Classy, no hassle, high performance projector
Sony VPL-VW95ES Projector: Cons
- Dark shadow detail could be better
- Could be brighter for 3D - A statement I've said about almost every 3D projector so far. In fairness, this is the brightest 3D capable home theater projector anywhere near its price, that we've reviewed to date, although there are some twice as bright for 1/3 the price
- Although fairly quiet, not among the very quietest; but shouldn't be an issue for the vast majority
- A 3rd HDMI input would be nice
- Lamp life - we think: Sony makes no claims, so we assume the old "standard" as our best guess - 2000 hours at full power, and between 2000 and 3000 hours in low power - However, today, many projector's lamps are lasting 4000 and 5000 hours, Since replacements are $300 or so...
Above, from Legends of Flight (2D version) This scene is very cool in 3D on the screen!
That's it folks!
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