Sony VPL-VW285ES 4K Home Theater Projector – This Affordable 4K Changes Everything

Oh boy! Welcome the Sony VPL-VW285ES projector.  To save time, here are the highlights in a nutshell, to start:  $4995 1500 lumens, a motorized 2.1:1 zoom, true 4K resolution, For the more technically curious:  HDMI is 13.5 Ghz – all that is needed – which falls between the more limiting 10 Ghz, and the full 18 Ghz. HDR content is DCI-P3 in a BT.2020 wrapper. (DCI-P3 is the movie theater standard.) More below. For 3+ years now, Sony has been the only manufacturer of true 4K projectors under $30,000!  This alone has been a tragedy, for if any group of people can appreciate true 4K – no pixel shifting (although pixel shifting is a good thing) — because, we’re into the “big screen” and maximum immersion into the content we watch, whether a football game, Game of Thrones, or great movies.  Let’s face it, if you are sitting 12 feet away from a 65″ screen, you really can’t tell the difference in sharpness between 1080p and 4K.  But at 8 feet from my 124″ screen, the difference is very real.
So, until now, the least expensive Sony 4K was $7995.  But today Sony rolled out a new true 4K projector, the VPL-VW285ES, at $4995, and hopefully that will convince the DLP and 3LCD crowd, and the other LCoS manufacturer – JVC, that it’s time to also start selling true 4K projectors – and at affordable prices.  (In fairness JVC has one true 4K projector, but as it’s $35,000, I don’t think we can exactly call that “affordable”. So what’s this new VW285ES have going for it, besides 3 true 4K LCoS panels (they always call theirs SXRD)? The answer is, pretty much everything the just discontinued VW365ES offers, and then some! vplvw285es_front_760Let’s start with placement flexibility.  A 2.1:1 motorized zoom lens, and plenty of lens shift.  So placing this projector in your room is going to give you as much range as anything else on the market.  Sadly, missing, though is Lens Memory, which Sony is saving for their higher end models.  (The old VW365ES also lacked Lens Memory.)  The good news, though, is that since all lens functions are motorized, you can still go with a wide screen if desired.  The difference is, instead of having a setting for wide screen and one for HDTV, you’ll have to spend a minute or so each time you change aspect ratios to adjust the zoom and lens shift, if you have that wide screen like I do.  You can live with that, in exchange for $4995! 4K – true, and also fully equipped: The VW285ES supports pretty much everything out there that we need.  Per Sony’s website: 4K HDR 60p 10bit (for HDR10/HLG) compatible so you can enjoy gaming and other high frame rate content in 4K HDR. 
Sony goes on to explain elsewhere, that their is little practical difference between the abilities of 13.5 and 18 Ghz.  Both can do the 60fps at 8, 10, or 12 bit, with sub-sampling to 4:2:0.  But with the 18 Ghz, the sub sampling (the least critical aspect) on 60 fps can be 4:2:2. With 30 fps or less, there are no differences, both can do 4:4:4.  Keep in mind that content is normally 4:2:0.  Not sure where to find higher, but if you do, this Sony will tell that source to send 4:2:0 instead. Gamers rejoice, there really isn’t anything else you need.  I don’t know how low the input lag is, and won’t until we test, but Sony’s making a real point about gaming with this projector, so figure it’s at least going to be respectable, probably in the 25-50 ms range.  We shall see. Hey, Sony has 3D!  OK, that’s no surprise, but I’m still not happy that the most of the new 4K UHD DLP projectors aren’t supporting 3D.  Geez!  No, there is no 4K 3D standard, but your 1080p 3D will work just fine. The 3D emitter is built in, just go buy some 3D glasses – I use lightweight ones from Samsung that are great and were about $15.  With 3D on the wane with LCD TVs, newer glasses might be slightly more than that.
Just as the $4995 price won’t suck a lot of folks bank accounts dry, Sony helps out further, by being particularly efficient. It produces its 1500 lumens with a 225 watt lamp (that’s lower than most), and it claims 6000 hours in eco mode (sorry, no full power spec yet available). OK you get it.  Here’s my message to the LCD and DLP manufacturers.  It’s time to stop screwing around, and give us true 4K chips.  Want to add pixel shifting to those 4K chips (or panels if you prefer), sure, I like pixel shifting, but its time to get real serious.  We all want the maximum sharpness to go with our HDR contrast, and BT.2020/P3 color space, and a whole lot of us are waiting to buy, until you deliver that at a reasonable price! Thanks to the folks at Sony!  Good for you.

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