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Sony VPL-VW285ES 4K Home Theater Projector Review

Posted on October 26, 2017 by Art Feierman

Meet the Sony VPL-VW285ES - a real 4K projector, and the first under $5000.

Bingo! The affordable 4K projector we've been waiting for, for a couple of years, has arrived! It is not only $3000 below anything that came before, but, in short, worth every penny.

Many enthusiasts have long been waiting for an under $5000 true 4K home theater projector, so there should be joy throughout the land with the new Sony VW285ES..  The VW285ES not only brings a new level of affordability to true 4K, but I'll say this up front, it also exceeded my expectations, which were fairly high.  

Sony Specs
Technology SXRD (3)
Native Resolution 4096x2160
Brightness (Manufacturer Claim) 1500
Zoom Lens Ratio
Lens Shift
Lamp Life


The VW285ES's place in the world

Less than two years ago, Sony brought out the VW365ES which you should consider this projector's predecessor, even if Sony also announced a $7999 VW385ES at the same time as this VW285ES.

You see, the old 365ES was also true 4K, at $7999, had motorized lens features although no lens memory, and it had no dynamic iris.

For those curious about the rest of the Sony line-up they have two 1080p projectors, starting at $1999 for their VPL-HW45ES - a nice projector with excellent color.  I've already mentioned the VW385ES.  Above that, the VW685ES for $14,999.

Then we get into their home theater laser projectors with the regular VW885ES (recently reviewed), and their ultra short throw VZ1000ES (reviews a few months back).  Both have list prices of $24999.

It gets better too, with the flagship of the line-up being Sony's VPL-VW5000ES, which tips the scales at 5000 lumens and $59,999.

Well, the VPL-VW285ES, also has a motorized zoom lens (improved, btw), without lens memory, and also lacks a dynamic iris.  By comparison the step up 385ES has Lens Memory and dynamic iris.

So, I was expecting a projector perhaps a slightly improved compared than that older, $3K more, VW365ES.  What I encountered, however was a significantly more capable, and noticeably superior projector.  All while being $3000 less money than what came before. Nice!

I do know that Sony says the lens (and I assume the light engine itself) are improved, but, I wasn't expecting the VW285ES lacking a dynamic iris, to perform as well as it does on dark scenes - in other words, I was surprised by how good black level performance turns out to me.

Enough on that for now, I'll go into much greater depth, of course, in the review.

What we have here, is that the Sony VPL-VW285ES is a serious 4K projector suitable for a dedicated home theater.  BTW it also is is fairly bright, (claiming 1500 lumens) so can be a good choice in other, brighter, room environments, as long as they have some respectable lighting control (and where necessary, the right type of screen for the room.

In the course of this review, we’ll look at some of the special features, including their Reality Creation (image detail enhancement), various “expert settings,” gaming input lag and suitability, networking capability, and more.

We’ll run through all the hardware features including the lens capabilities, inputs, and the remote control.

Of course, all that stuff is important, but even more so is the picture quality, which as I’ve already “hinted”, exceeded my expectations.

We then cover performance, including brightness measurements, and a section on calibrating the Sony for best picture. As usual, we provide the general settings and grayscale calibration on our first Calibration page, and our subscriber only Advanced Calibration page adds the CMS calibration – calibrating the individual primary and secondary colors. Naturally, we’ll finish with a summary of all the key findings.


  • True 4K resolution projector for $4999!
    • 4196x2160 – same resolution as Cinema projectors
  • 3 LCoS Panels – Sony calls their LCoS SXRD a familiar name
    • Panel Alignment controls
  • 1500 lumens – nicely bright
  • Supports HDR – High Dynamic Range
    • Both HDR10, and the HLG standard for streaming 4K
  • Supports BT.2020 expanded color space (DCI-P3) same as movie theaters
  • Eight preset color modes (plus one User mode)
  • Full calibration controls (calibrates beautifully)
  • Motorized lens features
    • No Lens memory but still works with standard or wide screens!
  • 6000 lamp life in Eco mode
  • 3D capable
  • 3 year parts and labor warranty
  • Large, backlit remote control
The Martian - 4K
4K Content with HDR, and BT.2020 expanded color space - image from Journey To Space

Let's get this review into full gear.  Next page: Special features.

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