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CEDIA 2018 – Sony’s 3 New 4K Projectors: VPL-VW295ES, VPL-VW695ES and VPL-VW995ES

By Art Feierman
CEDIA 2018 Sony Projectors VPL-VW295ES, VPL-VW695ES and VPL-995ES

Sony launched three new native 4K home theater projectors yesterday at CEDIA, starting at $4,999.99 for the VPL-VW295ES, Sony’s new entry-level, which receives a number of enhancements over the now end-of-life VW285ES. I should note that Sony seems to be promoting the remaining 285ES projectors at $3,999.

So, read about the differences. I imagine some of you will want to grab the older model “while supplies last,” which is probably a month or so, depending on the dealer. All the projectors support both HDR10 and HLG (for streaming high dynamic range). Sony has improved their Tone Matching for HDR. That’s great because they were already doing a pretty impressive job.

The Sony VPL-VW295ES

One improvement that will open up the VW295ES to a new market is an input lag in Game Mode of only 27ms. That’s overall “very good” and very few projectors can do better. Only the most hard-core, fanatical fast gamers, will have a problem with 27ms.  You know them, they have custom gaming PCs and expensive low input lag monitors.

All the new Sonys now have 18 Gbps HDMI, and that allows 60fps 4K performance without compromise, including using MotionFlow. Like the older model, this Sony has fully motorized lens functions, 2.1:1 zoom, and lots of lens shift, but still lacks “one button” lens memory.

No worries, if you want to go widescreen, you can resize for different aspect ratios manually, in less than a minute (I did it all the time when reviewing the 285ES). There’s also a trigger for a motorized screen, etc. The Sony VPL-VW295ES serves up 1500 lumens, same as its predecessors.

The Sony VPL-VW695ES

While the VW295ES is a straight replacement for the older model, Sony has essentially replaced both the VW385ES and VW685ES, with a single Sony – the VW695ES. It increases brightness to 1,800 lumens, has additional MotionFlow modes (Creative Frame Interpolation), a dynamic iris, lens memory, and improved contrast, compared to even the VW685ES.

Now, that’s noteworthy, because the VPL-VW695ES has a list price of $9,999.99 (that’s a lot of 9s), $5,000 below the old VW685ES. This new projector offers improved performance for a significantly lower price, eliminating the need (apparently) for a replacement to the VW385ES.

With the improved black level performance, this will be a top contender for serious home theater aficionados, trying to keep the budget to $10K. There’s so much more to report (but some we’ll save for the reviews)!

The Sony VPL-VW995ES

Still, I’ve saved the most exciting (except for the automobile-esque list price), for last. I’m talking about the all new VPL-VW995ES. Price Tag: $34,999.99. This projector will sit in the lineup above the current $24,999.99 VW885ES, and below the $60K VW5000ES flagship. It’s got all the other enhancements already mentioned.

The VPL-VW995ES is a laser projector – with dual irises. Well, really, a dynamic iris, and also Sony has set up the laser light engine to double as a second iris. Black levels are substantially improved over older Sonys. Nice. And, there’s also more dynamic range to the images.

Comparison: Optoma UHD65 on left, Sony VPL-VW295ES on the right. Note the detail seen on the Sony's image, versus how blown out the UHD65's is in the center. Impressive!

I was invited to sit in on a 3-hour seminar, going over all the new models, which included a lot of comparisons – against each other, an Optoma UHD65, etc. Most informative! Most importantly, were the demos.

The VPL-VW995ES produces a gorgeous image, and does so at 2,200 lumens. It offers all the usual advantages of laser light engines – holding color accurately, and maintaining brightness for years, with little loss.

The Bottom Line

Sony – long the leader in native 4K projectors, has improved performance and the value proposition in their two new lower cost projectors, while the VW995ES (which also has new optics, better than all but the VW5000ES), provides a level of natural clarity and sharpness, that is going to be extremely difficult for others to match. Stunning.

That’s about a wrap, for now. Other than to point out that the new Sonys support 3D content, but Sony no longer is selling Sony branded glasses. Sony recommends using XPand (a well-known brand) 3D glasses (pretty inexpensive) and besides, those were the folks that were making the glasses for Sony. Looking forward to more viewing of the VW995ES at the Sony booth today.

More from CEDIA 2018

Finally, just a quick reminder – I didn’t mention Sony’s VZ10000ES, their ultra short throw laser projector at $24,999.99! I bring that up now, because of another show announcement: Screen Innovations – a well-known premium brand of screens, has just launched a new ALR screen for “brighter rooms.” The new screen is called the Solo Pro!

This is great news. I understand someone else may also have an ALR screen for UST projectors that is motorized, but I haven’t tracked I down yet. This one should work great though, with performance similar to the rigid UST ALR Black Diamond SI screen that I have been using to evaluate UST projectors (business/education/home) under far less than ideal room conditions!

What makes this one very different from the SI Slate ALR screen that I have in my living room setup is that this new version is for ultra short throw projectors. Now, that’s important because UST projectors can do well in non-dedicated theater type environments. But, until now, you were stuck with a fixed wall screen.

With the SI motorized ALR UST Slate screen, now you can have your wall back, when not viewing. That’s a huge advantage in a living room or family room compared to having, say, a 65” or 71” LED TV on the wall, which, when not on, of course, is just a big black hole on your wall, aka ugly!

More later on the Solo Pro, but it should be an ideal screen to pair with Sony’s VZ1000ES, which, being UST cannot work with normal ALR screens. Cool!

More to come from CEDIA. Including new projectors from JVC, Epson, and others!

And look for a number of videos from the show, which we will publish over the next week or so. Most will be on our YouTube channel, but a few will be our website only.

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