Projector Reviews

Sony VPL-VW695ES Home Theater Projector Review- Hardware

VPL-VW695ES Hardware 1:  Overview, Lens, Control Panel, Inputs and Connectors

Overview

The Sony VW695ES looks pretty good even when not turned on. It offers clean lines, tasteful sculpting and a minimalistic approach, with connectors recessed, and a tiny control panel that is pretty much invisible from 5 feet away!

The 2.06:1 motorized zoom lens is centered and recessed. In the front there’s an infra-red sensor for the Sony’s remote control, The bottom front has two screw thread adjustable front feet.

This Sony’s body has a dark grey finish, that is coarse to the touch, except in the front of the projector, where the finish is a darker grey, but shiny and smooth. In this regard, it is virtually indistinguishable from the older models.

You won’t be hauling this guy from room to room, or out back for a movie night – it weighs in at 30.9 lbs. (14kg approximately). Projector fans – If you really want some portability once in a while (such as for an outdoor movie night, pick up a low-cost projector, one with built-in speakers, for those occasions. By the time you can read this, you will be able to buy a 4K capable projector, for under $1000, and a respectable 1080p projector from $500+ to $900.

Let’s continue tour of the VPL-VW695ES projector. On the top of the projector, the only thing you will find are the indicator lights, the only slightly visible seam of the lamp door, and the Sony logo.
If you are facing the front of the projector, on the right, is a well-hidden control panel. On the left, running from back to front is a recessed input panel. Overall, this Sony has a very minimalistic, if impressively large, look!

Let’s explore the details:

The VW695ES Lens

Sony lens
Looking "down the barrel" of the Sony VPL-VW695ES 2.06:1 motorized zoom lens, with lots of lens shift, lens memory.

The motorized 2.06:1 zoom provides owners with pretty much the maximum zoom range (short of drastically more expensive HT projectors that offer interchangeable lenses). Add to that a whole lot of vertical and horizontal lens shift, all of this Sony’s lens features are motorized so no lens controls are to be found on the projector. The projector supports Lens Memory functions, making it ideal for working with wide screens (for typical Cinemascope wide movies.)

The VW695ES received an upgraded lens and light path relative to its predecessors. How much improvement? Probably not huge, but every optical improvement is a plus. I would venture to say that only the two super expensive Sonys that use their ARC-F lens (a lens about as expensive as this projector). The Sonys using the ARC-F start at $40,000 list price!

Lens Throw Distances:  For a 100 inch, 16:9 screen, the Sony can be placed (measured from the front of the lens) anywhere from 9 feet 7 inches to 19 feet 7 inches from the screen. For other sized 16:9 screens, adjust these numbers.  Example:  For a 110″ diagonal screen, that’s 10% larger than a 100″, so add 10% to the 9 feet 7 inches (11.5″) for a distance of 10 feet, 6.5 inches…

With that same 100″ diagonal sized screen, the lens shift will allow the projector to be placed anywhere from the lens being 15 inches above the top of the screen surface, to being 15 inches below the bottom! There’s actually a little extra (2.5 inches) when mounting above if the projector is inverted. There’s also +/- 31% of the horizontal lens shift. Of course, the more horizontal shift used, the less vertical is available, and vice versa.

If you are planning to go widescreen, the Sony manual also shows throw distances for wide screens, such as a 2.4:1 aspect ratio.

Back to lens shift:  That’s a truly impressive amount of lens shift. And that, in turn, translates into a truly impressive amount of placement flexibility.

VPL-VW695ES Control Panel

Designed to be almost invisible, the control panel is a series of very small buttons in a horizontal row starting near the front of the projector’s side.

Sony Home Theater projectors: Control Panel
The micro-sized control panel is located on the side. The Enter button is a miniature joystick. Works very well.

Of course, few will use the control panel.  Certainly having a very capable remote control is far easier than a simple control panel.  Mostly on ceiling mounted projectors the only time the control panel is used, is likely during installation.

The first small button is power (once for on, twice to power down).  Next comes the Input button. Pressing it repeatedly steps it through each active source it sees, which is basically HDMI.

Next is the Menu button, followed by Sony’s micro joy stick, which works extremely well for navigating.  Pressing it straight in, acts as Enter.

Last is the Lens button which then allows you to adjust the lens focus, zoom, and shift using the micro-joy stick.   It works surprisingly well, if limited to the basic controls needed, no extras for convenience.

There are just two indicator lamps.  They will flash in different combinations when indicating any issues.

VPL-VW695ES Inputs and Connectors

Like most of the other, and more expensive Sonys, the VW695ES is pretty minimalistic in terms of inputs as well as its looks.

VW695es inputs
The VW695ES’es inputs and connectors area, (side), is pretty minimal in total connectors as it lacks a lot of old “legacy” ports, ie, VGA, component video, instead relies on HDMI and USB.

It relies almost exclusively on its two HDMI inputs. For many, that means relying on an AV receiver, or a proper 4K switching system. There’s nothing, of course, wrong with that. I rely on my Anthem AV receiver, (which sounds great) to switch for whatever projectors I’m reviewing.

Connectors and Inputs: From the back to the front: Closest to the rear is the LAN RJ45 connector for networking. That’s followed by a USB, then the pair of HDMI inputs. They support HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 copy protection. Note that the VW695ES’s HDMIs are 18Ghz, the full bandwidth for HDMI 2.0. The older models were at 13.5 GHz, so they were just slightly limited, but really only for high-speed 4K gaming. No 4K UHD movies, for example, have content needing more than the older ones had. Still, now the Sony meets the full standard. Hardcore (4K) gamers will be most pleased.

Details re HDMI:

These HDMI inputs support 4K HDR BT.2020 content up to 60fps and 8, 10, or 12-bit data. The difference lies with what is called the sub-sampling. There, (and only at 60fps), having 13.5 GHz vs 18 GHz make any difference, and that difference, will be slight, at the very most, and that only if you can find any 60fps content that has higher than 4:2:0 sampling which the older Sony could handle, then this Sony can outperform its predecessors.

I haven’t heard of any streaming that gets close to 60 fps, 12 bit with 4:4:4, or even 4:2:2, and of course Blu-ray UHD discs aren’t 60 GHz, so the Sony supports the full 4:4:4 at 24, or 30 fps if only you could find a disc that has any 4:4:4. (OK, enough techie talk!)

Bottom line on the VW695ES’s HDMI: There’s always something next. HDMI 2.1 supports even higher, but that won’t be needed it seems until you have an 8K projector with all the trimmings. There aren’t any standards for 8K yet, much as when the first 4K projectors were shipping there was no HDMI 2.0, no HDR, no BT.2020/P3 color standards for home…

Enough about HDMI and technical aspects of it.

Next, as we move toward the front is an RS-232 serial port for “old school” command and control of the projector over a serial connection. That’s followed by a jack allowing you to hard wire the remote control, in case you have a setup where the remote is too far away (or rear screen setup).

With an optional cable, you can put that remote far away, on the other side of walls, etc.

All that’s left to mention are the two 12 volt triggers, which could be used with compatible devices, such as properly equipped motorized screens, perhaps some motorized shades, lighting control etc.

Wait there’s also a security bar.

The power receptacle is on the back low, and recessed on the right side.

That’s it, except of course there’s the usual power receptacle, which is found on the back of the projector, down low, near the other side.

Next up – the Sony Remote Control and Menus.

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