Projector Reviews

Sony VPL-VW665ES 4K Home Theater Projector Review

Sony’s new VPL-VW665ES true 4K Projector is a substantial improvement over its predecessor.

No, the VW665ES isn’t a revolutionary new home theater projector.  Let me qualify that:  Perhaps you could count all Sony 4K home theater projectors as revolutionary, since they are the only game in town.  Compared to 1080p, 4K is “the revolution.”  It’s what we large screen folks have yearned for, and deserve, and NEED!

The Sony VPL-VW665ES is a “next gen” projector based on the older VW600ES.  The key differences are huge:  First, black level performance has been taken up a notch.  When I reviewed the older model, if I had a complaint it was really good black levels.  Certainly respectable,  but not dramatically better than the best $2500-$4000 1080p projectors.  This new Sony’s black level performance on dark scenes is definitely a step up, and that changes the value proposition significantly.  The other significant area of change is simply supporting more of the advanced performance capabilities specified by 4K Blu-ray UHD.  The standards weren’t set when the original 600 hit the market.   This includes at minimum, support for 4:2:0 color depth, and support for HDR.  In other words, better picture quality with a lot more dynamic range and color depth.  That’s major.  Sweet!

OK, that gives you a “taste” of what’s to follow.  Let me just say that I have been more impressed with the VW665ES in the first couple dozen hours of viewing, than I ever was with its predecessor (which was pretty impressive.)

So, let’s get started with an overview, and a list of highlights.  From there we’ll get into the goodies.

Sony VPL-VW665ES Overview

Positioning the VPL-VW665ES:  There are true 4K projectors, standard 1080p projectors, and 4K projector wanna-be’s (1080p projectors that will input 4K content, but rely on pixel shifting, lacking true 4K resolution.

The VPL-VW665ES, if within your financial reach (we’re talking $14,999 list price – about as much as a decently equipped Toyota Corolla) is the best value in a future proof solution I can think of.

The images in the player above are all taken using the VPL-665ES.  The first six images displayed were taken of 4K content on my 4K Media player.  Settings are default, either Reference mode (least processing) or Bright TV which I used for all the HDTV shots (although Bright Cinema – a touch different – with a visibly different gamma, is similar good).  Other than cropping, the only concession in taking these images has been reducing the color saturation slightly.  I’ve pointed that out in many reviews as my Canon 60D dSLR, though pro-quality, always seems to create slightly oversaturated images with this type of shooting.  I prefer to adjust the projector’s saturation, than the coarser camera saturation controls.  

I rarely shoot projectors in action that we haven’t first calibrated, only low cost ones (under $1000), or this one.  Oh, I’ll include a picture or two, uncalibrated, in many reviews, for the Out of the Box section, but this is a rare projector that can produce gorgeous results without any adjustment of its controls.

Sure, you could spend $25K or $60K on Sony’s two even more expensive 4K projectors, but how necessary is it?  The VW665ES is, first of all, more advanced in terms of supporting all the available 4K formats, than the older VW1100ES which is almost twice the price.  The flagship VW5000ES is the pinnacle of home projectors (or it will be when it ships in Q1 of 2016), but at $60K, it’s not exactly competition.  (Can’t wait to review it though!).

Sony also has launched a new VW365, replacing the VW350ES.  That VW365 shows great promise, it’s not quite as bright as this guy, but there will be a substantial black level performance difference (no dynamic iris), making the VW365ES more of an ultimate home entertainment projector.  That is, not as much built for a dedicated theater, rather built for less ideal family rooms, media rooms, living rooms, etc.

Thus, the VPL-VW665ES has to be the ultimate under $25,000 projector for that special theater/cave of yours!  And the maximum viewing experience.

The VW665ES is dripping in features.  The motorized zoom lens has exceptional placement range, and there’s a ton of vertical and horizontal lens shift, so placing it in your room should not be a challenge.  It has plenty of inputs and controls.  And of course, it offers all the menus, etc. to do a professional calibration.

Speaking of which, the VW665ES is so close to dead on, right out of the box, (as several recent Sony projectors have been), that I did my viewing, and all my photo taking using default settings.  I had Mike measure the projector, but it was close enough that the variation from dead on, is really what you would expect from normal lamp variation and lamp changes over time.  BTW, that’s a new feature we’ll discuss – the Sony’s Auto-Calibration.  very cool

We’ll talk about other competition elsewhere in this review.  Some of that will be more comments comparing to the other Sony projectors, but also how the VW665ES stacks up against the top pixel shifting 1080p projectors – we’re talking the JVCs and Epson entries.

OK, time for a short list of key features – some already mentioned or in the small specs area above.

Sony VPL-VW665ES Highlights

We’ll explore a number of these features/benefits in the Special Features pages that follow.  Some of these are very special, others are simply important and expected:

  • 1800 lumens claimed – Bright enough for large screens, enough for good 3D
  • 2.1:1 zoom for great placement flexibility
  • Stunning color right out of the box  (is that a feature or a benefit, or both?)
  • Power Lens Memory to support using wide screens for Cinemascope movie viewing
  • 300,000:1 contrast.  The number’s impressive, but what counts is the noticeably superior black level improvements
  • Auto Calibration:  Lamps shift color balance over time. This Sony adjusts for that, so you don’t have to recalibrate
  • Support for almost all Blu-ray UHD standards, including HDR, 4:2:0, DCI…  It may be years before content is available to take full advantage of the most advanced standards, but it’s great to know this projector is future proofed in this regard
  • 3 year parts/labor warranty – longer than most