Posted on November 21, 2018 By Art Feierman
The Sony VPL-VW295ES is brand new and shipping! It is the least expensive, true, native 4K home theater projector, with a list price of $4999.99. Replacing the older VW285ES, the VW295ES is now the only native 4K projector available under $5000. Translated: If you want the “real thing” – native 4K, the next two least expensive models announced or shipping are respectively $3000 and $5000 more!
The other basics: 1500 lumens claimed. This Sony came up only about 3% shy of claim at its brightest. But then most projectors – DLPs in particular have a really ugly brightest mode 3LCD and other LCoS are typically way better in this regard). By comparison, Sony’s two brightest modes offer a picture in terms of color accuracy, etc. that is more like a typical 4K UHD projector can do, in their better modes, but producing brightness 30-50% below their claims. What I’m saying is Sony doesn’t serve up a hideous color mode just so they can claim another 20-30-40% more lumens! I’m sure they could, if they wanted to. There’s wired networking built in too, and a whole lot if image enhancement processing.
As I’m sure you have suspected, the VW295ES is even better than its predecessor. In many ways! One relatively unique way is that it is IMAX certified (more on our Special Features pages).
It’s not just about 4K sharpness, as we’ve explained in many reviews. It’s even more about HDR and doing it well, the ability to do a good job on P3 color, and, of course, an impressive and capable feature set, including great placement flexibility.
As to the 4K sharpness, unless you sit pretty close to your screen (say 10 feet or less from a 100” diagonal), you will probably have trouble telling native 4K apart from various lower resolution projectors that are 4K capable.
You are more likely to notice that this Sony projector seems more natural, lacking the slight to not so slight hardness to 4K content that most others display. The point being, that the VW295ES, like its predecessor produces a gorgeous image on both 4K and lower resolution content.
“It’s a Sony!”
If you are a baby boomer – like me, then you almost certainly know that Sony was long known for legendary picture quality. It was almost 50 years ago, that the Sony Trinitron picture tube set the standard for TVs and for professional monitors – we’re going back to Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show! How’s that for dating myself? Many in the know attributed the Trinitron as changing US perceptions of Japanese consumer tech products from “cheap junk” to “high quality”! (That was before any major incursions by Japanese car companies – anyone but me remember the early Datsuns?) But I digress. Let’s get back on track.
With the VW295ES, once again, Sony delivers a display with superior color and picture even “right out of the box” – without adjustment.
We’ll touch on most of these points throughout the review. But first, a little family:
The VPL-VW295ES has a big brother, the VW695ES, which launched at $9999.99, a full $5000 below its predecessor and 20% brighter at 1800 lumens. Gone is the VW385ES which was at $8000. The VW695ES, however, is a real step up from that older one. Perhaps the biggest difference is that the more expensive Sony has a dynamic iris for darker blacks on those very dark scenes. If you have the proper theater or man-cave that you can fully darken, and the budget allows, you should consider it. I won’t go into the rest of the Sony line-up, but Sony’s 4K projectors go up to $60K, including 3 native 4K laser projectors.
The VPL-VW295ES also has a motorized zoom lens, although it lacks one button lens memory, and also lacks a dynamic iris. By comparison the step up 695ES has Lens Memory and dynamic iris! It relies mostly on its pair of HDMI inputs (with 18Gbps), but also has wired networking. And yes it does 3D. For those interested, this projector has game – it’s a very good gaming projector that most hard core projectors.
Despite the lack of a dynamic iris, I was surprised by how good black level performance turns out to be.
Enough on that for now, plenty of discussion throughout the review.
What we have here, is that the Sony VPL-VW295ES is a serious 4K projector suitable for a dedicated home theater. It has the brightness to do a very respectable job on 4K HDR content. That’s enough to also make this projector a very good choice in other, brighter, room environments, as long as they have some respectable lighting control (and pairing it with the right type of screen for the room.)
1080i resolution content, REC709 color - from Victoria Secret Swimsuit Special. Excellent, despite being relatively low res.
This image is also from Valerian. It came out a bit soft compared to the others, I believe there might have been a little camera shake causing the softness. The proof is with the General's close-up detail, in this same player
In the course of this review, we 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.
And 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 “pointed out”, 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, which I often have referred to as “the last 10%.” Naturally, we’ll finish with a summary of all the key findings.
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