Sony VPL-VW695ES Home Theater Projector Review- Special Features

Sony VPL-VW695ES Home Theater Projector Review:  4K Resolution, Reality Creation, HDR and BT.2020/P3, IMAX Support, Dynamic Iris

True 4K resolution 4196x2160

This really is true 4K.  That is, the same resolution defined as 4K for the Digital Cinema projectors at your local Ciluneplex.  True, the standard for Blu-ray UHD is the lower 3940×2160 (exactly 2X the height and width of 1080p), so a little lower.  That means, when watching a blu-ray UHD movie, there will be a little letterboxing on the left and right, nothing to be concerned with.  If you do encounter true 4K content in the future, including computer oriented 4K, this Sony has that extra width on its 3 SXRD panels to do that 4196 wide without having to compress the data, and lower the overall sharpness.

Sony projector image 4K/HDR
4K/HDR from Journey To the South Pacific. Vibrant!

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 VW695ES produces a rather stunning image on both 4K and lower resolution content.

The Black Panther - 4K/HDR UHD disc. Pretty great skin tone, for being uncalibrated.

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.

There has been conversations that Sony uses better optics in their higher end 4K projectors, but that’s limited to their two models using their Arc-F lens.  Some say that the lower end models like this one, have optics that are a little soft for 4K content.  

I’ll put it this way.  Yes the optics can be even better, but the image looks sharp.  Oh a really sharp 4K UHD projector like the BenQ HT9060 (my last review) looks pretty sharp, until compared to the Sony.  The Sony is the first image. 

vw695es sharpness
Sharp!!! Sony VPL-VW695ES 4K UHD, a close-up of the center of this Ghostbusters
benq ht9060
BenQ HT9060 on same image but not as sharp. Cmpare text,, post-it, gauge,labels

True, I could “up” the perceived sharpness of the BenQ, to seem as sharp, but then the BenQ image seems very hard and a bit contrasty.

Inherently, Sony is natively sharper.

Yes, it’s true, with all of these projectors you can up the perceived sharpness with various controls, but when push comes to shove, this Sony can farily well resolve 4 pixels in a square layout where one is red, one green, one blue, and one white. None of the pixel shifters can do that, due to the overlap. Where the green overlaps the red pixel by 50% you get the secondary color yellow. With the Sony, you should see separate green and red – no yellow. (But you are aligning 3 LCoS panels so there is some overlap.)

That’s how it should be. In reality not even the Sony can produce separate colors, but in my testing, it does better on my image than any of the DLPs… Now we can all argue, that at normal seating distances, you can’t make out individual pixels – good point, but it’s still better to be able to resolve each pixel’s color correctly. So, sure, you can spend $40K+ on the Sony VW995ES and get superior optics. Still, no question, this Sony looks very nicely sharp on 4K content, and outstanding, of course on 1080p.

There are sharpness comparison images on the Sharpness section of the Performance page.

Reality Creation

Note, these next two sections are pretty much word for word from a previous Sony review – no reason to change the content. Reality creation is Sony’s detail enhancement control. Most modes default to a setting of 20 out of 100.

You can push that up further gaining a slight amount of perceived sharpness without significant image noise, but by the time you push it up to say 50, the noise is starting to show as well. I like to keep the setting around 20-30, but I’ll crank it up to 50 normally for viewing my football games (hey, they are only 1080i, to begin with, they can definitely use some help, and I’m not going to be critical (or even notice) about minor noise on a football game).

HDR and BT.2020/P3

Generally HDR and the wide color gamut/space known as BT.2020 (or more practically – DCI-P3, P3 color space is a little smaller), and more achievable than true BT.2020), is something one would expect on all 4K capable projectors, but that’s not the case.

We did not measure REC709 or P3 capabilities. This projector should have no trouble with REC709, and likely gets a good way to P3, as we’ve seen with other Sonys.

IMAX Support

This Sony VW695ES is one of three Sony projectors to receive IMAX certification. To my knowledge there are no others, although perhaps there are some super expensive ones – you know, the six-figure 3 chip DLP types. Still, I believe Sony is the first to have projectors earn this certification. Did I mention that it isn’t just a visual thing? The certification also includes DTS sound certification for that IMAX content!

Dynamic Iris

I am impressed with this Sony’s dynamic iris. A good/great dynamic iris can really improve how very dark scenes look. It’s been a long time since I reviewed the 695ES’s predecessor, but all I can say is that this iris is delivering deeper blacks than I had anticipated.

Some projectors without dynamic irises will try the same using lamp dimming but a good dynamic iris like this one is far faster than a lamp can brighten or dim, so that lamp dimming is barely effective, and no match. More about the overall black level performance on the Picture Quality page.

dark scene
A very, very, dark scene from MockingJay Part 1, marching to the dam. The iris lowers the overall levels to keep the “blacks” a good bit darker.

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