Posted on August 30, 2018 By Phil Jones and Art Feierman
This Sony VPL-VW885ES is a laser home theater projector, at a “bargain” price of $24,999. OK, that sounds strange, but it is, to my knowledge, the least expensive native 4K projector targeting the home market, with one exception. That exception is the projector that is tied for this Sony for our top award: Best Home Theater Projector $5,000 – $25,000. The other projector is Sonys VPL-VZ1000ES. The primary difference? The VW885ES is a traditional throw projector, sitting the usual distance away from the screen. By comparison, the VZ1000ES is ultra short throw, and sits only a couple-few inches from the screen (and slightly below, typically).
Both are bright. The VW885ES supports not just the standard HDR10 version of HDR that everyone supporting, but also HLG (hybrid log-gamma) which is a slightly newer HDR standard, geared primarily for HDR when streaming. My experience on Netflix, for example, is that most of what’s there in 4K still isn’t HDR. With this new standard in place, we should see more streaming 4K content with HDR.
Its laser engine pumps out a claimed 2,000 lumens. We measured just about 2,100, in brightest mode, so congrats at beating claim. All of the modes, however, measured no more than 20% less, so all modes over 1,600 lumens! That, combined with the laser light engine that will lose brightness over years – not months like lamps – will remain bright for a long time. And the color – it’s great, right out of the box, but if you calibrate it, know that this Sony has an auto-calibration feature, so 2-5 years from now, you can run the auto-calibration and it will return the color to match the projector’s colors right after your initial calibration. Very cool!
The VW885Es is a fantastic projector for a dedicated home theater or cave, but it has the muscle to work well in media rooms and other rooms that are reasonable for projectors. In some of those rooms you’ll want to pair the VW885ES with an ALR type screen that “rejects” lighting from the sides, etc. That type of screen makes bright projectors excellent choices for less than ideal rooms.
Still, because of the excellent black level performance, a good room is a real plus. I see the VW885ES to be mostly found in those dedicated theaters, while the same priced, Sony VPL-VZ1000ES, which shares this Best Performance Award, in our top class, is ultra-short throw, so more likely to end up in living rooms, family rooms, etc., even if it is equally at home in a theater as this VW885ES.
A scene from The Fifth Element, projected by the Sony VPL-VW885ES.
A scene from Passengers, projected by the Sony VPL-VW885ES.
A scene from Casino Royale, projected by the Sony VPL-VW885ES.
HDTV Victorias Secret, projected by the Sony VPL-VW885ES.
HDTV sports, projected by the Sony VPL-VW885ES.
Take your pick. Two great projectors with superb color, very sharp native 4K panels and lenses, and better black levels than almost anything out there (except perhaps a couple of JVCs). JVC’s only laser and 4K projector is an extra $10,000, but also brighter. We could not get one in for review.
Short of Sony’s VW5000ES – their flagship projector ($60K), which also uses their higher quality high-end commercial optics, looks like either the VW885ES – or the VZ1000ES is your best choice for your home. Pick out the one that works best for your environment, kick back and enjoy awesome!
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