Sony VPL-VW695ES Review: The Native 4K Home Theater Projector With Premium Performance

Around two years ago Sony launched the VPL-VW695ES along with several other native 4K Sony home theater projectors. The VW695ES is the last of these newest Sony projectors for us to review!

It sports a list price of $9999.99. What is particularly interesting is that it replaces two previous and popular models. In the past Sony had the VW3xx series and the VW6xx series – which was brighter, higher performance, but $14,999.99.

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Sony VPL-VW695ES Specs
Price$9999
TechnologySXRD (3)
Native Resolution4096x2160
Brightness (Manufacturer Claim)1800
Contrast350000:1
Zoom Lens Ratio2:10
Lens ShiftYes
Lamp Life6000 hrs.
Weight31 lbs.
Warranty3 years

Overview

What the VPL-VW695ES, brings to the party, is a new projector, with higher performance and value than either previous model, at a price point much closer to the lower cost of the two earlier home theater projectors.  Prior to this new series, that VW375ES for example, was mostly identical to the lower cost VW295ES ($4999.99), except for the addition of Lens Memory, and a Dynamic Iris.  With the VW695ES though you got both of those, and a jump in overall performance.  

As with all Sony home theater projectors, the VW695ES uses 3 LCoS panels (Liquid Crystal on Silicon).  Sony and JVC, the two dominant home theater brands between $5000 and $30,000 both rely on LCoS panels.   JVC makes one lower cost DLP (under $4K) – one, that’s partially based on a BenQ projector – and not a core part of their primary lineup, rather the exception, and definitely not competition.

With a list price point right at $10K, this Sony competes with models from JVC, as well as the new BenQ HT9060, and others. We’ll discuss the competition at various points, but, have a whole section on the competition on our Summary page.

This Sony projector is about as feature laden as they come. Native 4K. HDR support for both HDR10 and HLG, Dynamic iris for better handling of very dark scenes, 3plenty of calibrated brightness to light up large screens in a home theater, 3D (Sony has long done a great job with 3D), an excellent set of controls (including for calibration), and the projector is somewhat sleek looking and mostly black – it will look great hanging from your ceiling or rear shelf.

No question about the performance of Sony’s VPL-695ES. It took about three hours of watching it on 4K (with/without HDR content), and quick analysis of black levels (on both 1080p and 4K with HDR), to determine this projector deserves one of our Hot Product Awards. Upward of 50 hours of viewing later, no reason to think otherwise. Of course our review will cover most aspects and provide the perspective for receiving our highest “regular” award.

Now I normally don’t like to give too many clues about the performance of a projector, before we really get started, but I thought I would share one surprise. Black level performance: I was certainly expecting better blacks than the older models, but they easily exceeded my expectations.

Will they rival the JVC competition? Black levels have been the JVC’s primary advantage – I’ve long felt Sony provided superior image processing (including 3D).

The rest of the 4K Sonys

Sony definitely has the largest lineup of native 4K home projectors around (some very high end companies have more models), but usually many models are very similar. The rest of the line up beyond our focus today, the VPL-VW695ES, and the lower cost VW295ES I’ve mentioned, consist of two slightly older projectors priced right at $24,999.99 – one is the standard design VPL-VW885ES, and the other, an ultra short throw projector, the VPL-VW1000ES.

An image projected by the Sony VPL-VW385ES, which was replaced by the Sony VPL-VW695ES.

Both of those have laser light engines, as do Sony’s two – yes two – flagship models: The newest Sony – the VPL-VW995ES (reviewed months ago), at $40K (awesome!!!) And their now ancient VPL-VW5000ES a $60,000 5000 lumen model that’s been around for years, and gets a lot of upgrading but does still lack a few new capabilities that, say, the VW995ES offers for less.

“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 50  years ago, that the Sony Trinitron picture tube set the standard for TVs and for professional studio monitors – Hey, we’re going back to Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show!

Many to this day attributed the Trinitron as changing US perceptions of Japanese consumer tech products from “cheap junk” to “high quality”! My take is that Sony TVs back then helped also help Japanese auto companies. Back when the Sony TVs were dominating, Nissan’s were still sold as Datsuns in the US.

That’s the scoop. Sony has lower priced home projectors (two) but neither are 4K capable, and both have been reviewed, they start at $1999.99.

Highlights

  • Hilights
    • 1800 lumens claimed – and without an “ugly mode” that most projectors have
    • Excellent color right out of the box – which is why we did not calibrate it
    • 2.06:1 motorized zoom lens
      • Motorized focus, zoom and lens shift
      • Lots of lens shift
      • Lens Memory for one button switching between preferred aspect ratios
    • Dynamic iris for superior dark scenes
    • Low input lag for gaming!
    • 6000 hours lamp life in eco mode
    • Two HDMIs – full 18Ghz support for up to 60fps 4K with 4:2:2 color depth with HDR!
    • 12 volt triggering for controlling a motorized screen or window shades
    • Large, full featured remote control
    • Three years parts and labor warranty (no rapid replacement program)
    • Comprehensive menu system
    • Excellent color controls
    • Quieter than most projectors

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