Posted on August 30, 2018 By Art Feierman
Meet one of my favorite projectors. With a $7,999.99 list price, the VW385ES is hardly inexpensive, but then, for those serious about home theater, it’s not all that terribly expensive either. At least, not when you think about it as a 5+ year investment. You’ll likely spend far more time, and far more enjoyable time in front of your Sony projector than driving your car.
What we have here, is the whole package. The only reason this projector didn’t win the Performance award in this class is because its big brother, the VW685ES at almost twice the price, did win that.
The color right out of the box (too many options, btw), is mostly very good to excellent. What’s new with the VW385ES though, is that it has a dynamic iris, which the older 365ES lacked. With that comes much improved performance on dark scenes.
I found the Sony does HDR as well as anything to come through here, but the brighter Sonys. The “contrast” control lets you dial in the desired trade-offs between “pop” and mid-range brightness. When playing with other projectors HDR settings while this 385ES as here, I used it as my reference.
While other 4K capable projectors can look processed (to different degrees) handling 4K content, the Sony – being native 4K does 1:1 pixel mapping and just IS sharp! You don’t notice it, you realize it. Cool!
A scene from The Hunger Games, projected by the Sony VPL-VW385ES.
A scene from Valerian, projected by the Sony VPL-VW385ES.
A scene from Passengers, projected by the Sony VPL-VW385ES.
HDTV Victorias Secrets model, projected by the Sony VPL-VW385ES.
HDTV sports, projected by the Sony VPL-VW385ES.
This Sony delivers a successful combination of great color, with pretty good blacks. That’s great, but when thinking of the competition, there are others with comparable color calibrated, and JVCs will have an advantage on blacks.
The thing is, none of those competitors are native 4K, with real live true 4096×2400 panels – none of that pixel shifting. None come right out of the box looking so good.
Sony’s feature set lacks nothing. There’s 3D, low input lag times – under 40ms for respectable gaming, fine for all but the most fanatical gamers. There’s CFI, with multiple settings including one so mild that I find it “acceptable” for movies.
The 2.1:1 zoom lens is fully motorized, and has lens memory (the older version had the lens features but not the memory).
Great picture, everything you need. You can spend more for better black levels, and more lumens, but this Sony has all the rest covered.
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