Projector Reviews

Best in Class – $5000-$25,000 Value Home Theater: Sony VPL-VW385ES

Sony VPL-VW385ES Front Angled

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.

Sony VPL-VW285ES Overview

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.

$5000-$25,000 Best in Class Best Value Home Theater Sony VPL-VW385ES

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.

The Sony VPL-VW385ES produces an impressively sharp image!
The Sony VPL-VW385ES produces an impressively sharp image!

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!

The Bottom Line on 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.

Sony VPL-VW385ES Review