Projector Reviews

Sony VPL-VW285ES True 4K Home Theater Projector – Picture Quality

Sony VPL-VW285ES Projector – Picture Quality Pg 1: Out of the Box, Skin Tones, HDTV and Sports

VW285ES Out of the Box Picture Quality

Like most Sony home theater projectors we have reviewed, The VPL-VW285ES has a great many preset modes, and more importantly, most of them look extremely good without any adjustment.  Contrast and Brightness defaults are typically (and in this case), right on the money!

Of course calibrating will make subtle improvements (both on 1080 and 4K content), but if you don’t bother to get it calibrated, you’ll still enjoy a beautiful picture, as you can see in the image player above.  Below, in the Skin Tones section we show you photos of the same Victoria Secret model, same frame, in each of the modes.  Of those modes three are calibrated – one as a ‘Brightest” mode, one for non-HDR, non-BT.2020 “best” performance, and one specifically for 4K content with HDR and BT.2020 color.

Naturally, we are publishing our own calibration settings, as we do on most over $1000 projectors, and even some under $1000.  We provide all the basic settings and grayscale (“greyscale” balancing of R,G, and B to 6500K, etc.) on this page, for all to use.

To finish fine tuning the color accuracy, though one should individually calibrate each of the primary and secondary colors.  That is done in the CMS (color management system).  We put those extra (but important) calibration settings on our Advanced Calibration page – for our paid subscribers.

Also, the Advanced calibration page has more commentary from Eric, our calibrator, and additional charts/graphics from his calibration. Subscribing costs just a few bucks a year!  And that helps keep the lights on, and the projectors running over here.

VPL-VW285ES football image
Bright TV mode, after reducing the color temp slightly, pre-calibration

Of the many modes of the Sony, there isn’t a one that looks bad, or even not good.  I might point out that Bright TV is definitely very cool – that is stronger on blues than reds, which many prefer for sports type viewing – rather than the more red favoring movie (Cinema) modes.

That said, I found Bright TV mode a bit too tilted toward blue, but you can easily reduce the color temp slightly for a great picture for sports viewing.

This Sony has nine – yes nine different Color Temp settings.  Five are labeled Custom and are all different, but you can modify them easily as well.

All considered, few projectors, when fired up without any calibration, are as close to being right on, as this Sony.  And unlike most projectors, there isn’t even a really terrible mode that’s obviously too green. Nor will any of the modes exhibit, pure reds that project as dark wine-like reds, or yellows that look mustardy or greenish, both being common among single chip DLP projectors in their brightest modes, including the brightest modes in the first crop of “4K UHD” DLP projectors.

Starting with excellent color makes our calibrator’s life easy.  You can check out his comments on our calibration pages.

VPL-VW285ES - Handling of Skin Tones

Most Sony projectors arrive with virtually as good color in their best modes, as many others achieve only post calibration.  Looking at the naturalness of skin tones is one excellent test, one this Sony pretty much aces.

In addition to the assorted skin tones above, the photo player below shows all of the Sony VW285ES’s preset picture modes (and User).

Of these modes, Cinema Film 1 is calibrated and used as our “brightest” mode, while a calibrated Reference mode was saved in User.  Finally, for 4K content with HDR and BT.2020 color space, Cinema Film 2 was calibrated. Calibrated mode or not, the skin tones always look at least very good and mostly excellent.

Also on this image player are our usual four “Bond” images from Casino Royale of Daniel Craig, under different lighting conditions.  All of the just mentioned images are from 1080 content and REC709 color (the standard for HDTV, Blu-ray disc, etc.), The  last two images, however, are 4K images with HDR and BT.2020 color.

Bottom line on Skin Tones:  The VW285ES has multiple modes that do skin tones, right out of the box without adjustment that look about as good as many projectors post calibration, although perhaps not as accurate.

The modes we calibrated were even (slightly) better. Skin tones tend to be a bit darker in most scenes on 4K content, (all but the brightest scenes – i.e. with a lot of direct sunlight, mostly due to HDR.  But then, this Sony delivers, on 4K skin tones – very rich, if a touch darker than with 1080p content, but this Sony as set up, never looked dim, which can be an issue with HDR capable projectors.

Overall:  Excellent!

VW285ES - Great for HDTV in General, and Sports

Sports on the VW285ES look great as you can see in the images.  I personally will take the sharpness setting up to 40 or 50 (default is 20), when I think of it, especially when watching Sunday Ticket Game Mix (DirecTv), with 4 or 8 games on the screen at once.  Truth is, this Sony’s not going to look really any sharper on HDTV or Sports than the best 1080p projectors that are pixel shifters, or those “4K UHD” DLPs with resolution half way in between.

But, that’s pretty much besides the point.

Because, content on current HDTV, or streaming,  is going to be shifting to 4K over the next couple of years, and then, this Sony will have the real sharpness advantage by virtue of being a true 4K projector, rather than “FauxK”.

I also recommend a low setting for CFI – which Sony calls MotionFlow, for sports viewing.  If you like that for regular TV too, go for it.

Bottom Line on HDTV and Sports viewing:  The VPL_VW285ES never disappointed, whether color – which was generally gorgeous, sharpness, respectable black levels.

For me, it seems when I have a 4K capable projector I’m reviewing, I mostly want to feed it Blu-ray UHD discs, with 4K and HDR and BT.2020 color.  Nice though, that with relatively “old school” tech – 1080i, and the HDTV color standard of REC709, that the Sony looks great.