Posted on September 19, 2020 By Phil Jones
Once again, we would like to thank Sony for allowing Projector Reviews to be one of the first sites to provide an in-depth review of both the VPL-VW715ES and its big brother, the VPL-VW915ES. The two units are very similar in terms of features, except the VW915ES features a Z Phosphor laser light source while the less expensive VW715ES is lamp-based.
The VW715ES is the successor of the highly rated VW695ES we reviewed a few years ago. The VW715ES retails for $9,999.99, and it’s the top end Sony 4K SXRD bulb-based projector. Sony claims the VW715ES can produce 1,800 lumens of brightness and the unit’s lamp has a rated life of 6,000 hours in low power mode.
Sony was the first company to introduce a 4K projector, and they still have the widest model assortment. Like all Sony 4K HDR home theater projectors, the VW715ES utilizes three SXRD panels to deliver true 4K resolution (4096 x 2160).
The most significant VW715ES upgrade is new video processing powered by a version of Sony’s X1 processor that has been optimized specifically for projector applications. This processor is what gives the projector the ability to do frame-by-frame HDR tone mapping. The VW715ES supports both the HDR10 standard as well as HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma).
Due to a projector’s limited brightness capabilities, I believe that dynamic tone mapping helps maximize the image quality of HDR10 content on the VW715ES and the VW915ES. A new feature called Dynamic Contrast Enhancer, powered by the X1 processor, combines frame-by-frame HDR analysis and tone mapping with the VW7I5ES’s dynamic iris to deliver a big improvement in HDR reproduction.
Sony has seven 4K HDR Home Theater projectors in their lineup, starting with the VW295ES ($5,000) and running up to the flagship $80,000 (minus lens) GTZ380. There are five laser-based 4K HDR models in the lineup, including the stellar VW915ES and two 4K HDR home theater lamp-based projectors, the VW295ES ($5,000 SRP) and this newly announced VW715ES ($10,000 SRP).
As with many previous generations, Sony allowed Projector Reviews to be one of the first sites to review the two new additions to their home theater projector lineup. I spent a couple of weeks with the VW915ES and then a few weeks with the VW715ES.
As mentioned in the VW915ES review, that unit delivered the best image quality I have ever seen in my test lab room. I can confidently attest that the VW915ES produced the best looking, most eye-popping HDR picture I have ever seen on my screen in my test lab earning it one of our Hot Product Awards.
Like the VW915ES, the VW715ES is equipped with the new projector optimized X1 processor. In addition to signal processing and HDR analysis/tone mapping, the processor also controls the projector’s dynamic iris for improved dynamic contrast and black level.
While the laser-based VW915ES ($20,000 SRP) is outstanding, the lamp-based VW715ES ($10,000 SRP) is literally half the price and still delivers great picture quality, making it a great option for customers with smaller budgets.
While it does not use a laser light source, the VW715ES utilizes the same X1 processor. It includes the new HDR Contrast Enhancer feature, which delivers a noticeable improvement to its HDR performance compared to the older VW695ES.
Below is a summary of the Sony 4K SXRD Laser projector lineup.
The VW715ES has a rated brightness of 1,800 lumens. While 1,800 lumens might not seem impressive in the industry, but unlike some other home theater projectors, the VW175ES still delivers most of its brightness even after it is calibrated. Many projectors with much higher brightness ratings can barely deliver half of their rated lumens once properly calibrated.
As with all Sony home theater projectors, the VW715ES uses 3 SXRD panels and is Sony’s version of LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) that delivers more native contrast than standard LCD panels or DLP chips used in consumer projectors. Combining SXRD panels with a Dynamic Iris results in excellent dynamic contrast and further improves the projector’s black level.
The VW715ES is packed with custom integration features for maximum system flexibility and reliability. For example, Picture Position Memories makes it a breeze to use the VW715ES with a 2.23:1 screen or an anamorphic lens.
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