Posted on October 10, 2020 By Phil Jones
Sony VPL-VW715ES 4K Laser Projector Review – Hardware 1: Overview, Control Panel, Inputs and Connectors, Lens, Menus, Remote Control
The VW715ES looks nearly identical to the older VW695ES. It replaces in Sony’s lineup measuring approximately 18 ¼” wide, 8” high x 19 ½” deep, and weighing about 31 pounds. Most home theater enthusiasts will trade a larger chassis for the benefit of better black levels, a motorized lens with horizontal/vertical shift, and quieter operation.
The VW715ES is slightly smaller and 13 pounds lighter than Sony’s laser-based 4K home theater models like the new VW915ES.
The front of the VW715ES is very clean, with the motorized lens positioned in the center and the front IR sensor on the left. The unit’s fan exhaust vents are on the front, flanking the lens, and the unit’s main intake vents are located along the rear.
On the top, there is nothing but the Sony logo and a 4K emblem. The power connection is located on the back of the projector on the lower right side. If looking at the projector from the front, the inputs are on the lower left side while the small control panel is on the chassis’s right side.
The control panel consists of a series of buttons of different sizes and shapes. Closest to the front of the projector is the Power On/Off button. Press once for on, twice to power down. The next button is the Input button, which you can press more than once to change inputs.
There is a Menu button followed by the latest iteration of Sony’s small joystick type button, which you operate for up, down, left, and right navigation. Press the joystick button directly to Enter the desired selection. Lastly, the Lens button brings up the menu to control the lens focus, zoom, and lens shift.
The 2.06:1 motorized zoom lens is center-mounted and recessed by several inches (there is no motorized door to protect the lens and keep dust away when off.) The lens is the same 2.06:1 motorized zoom lens that is also used in the laser-based VW915ES and entry level VW295ES, which are also both 4K projectors.
When it comes to placement flexibility, the VW715ES offers 2.06:1, which is a lot of zoom range compared to most home theater projectors whose zoom lenses usually range between 1.1:1 to 1.6:1, depending on the brand and model.
Throw Distance for a 16:9 (1.78:1) Screen
Throw Distance for a 2.35:1 Screen
The VW715ES offers motorized focus and zoom as well as plenty of horizontal and vertical lens shift. Horizontal and vertical lens shift further increases the model’s installation flexibility.
Lens Shift Range: +85/-80% Vertical and +/-33% Horizontal
When projecting a 100″ diagonal 16:9 image, 80% of the image height is approximately 39 inches, while 85% of its width is about 41 ½ inches. This means the bottom of the projected image can be shifted down 39 inches, or you can shift the top of the image up 41 ½ inches.
While +/- 33% horizontal shift means you can shift a 100” image to the left or right about 28 inches. Just remember, like most projectors, the more horizontal shift you use, the less vertical adjustment you will have available.
Having a large amount of zoom and shift capability makes installation a breeze, especially when you are trying to replace an older unit that was previously fixed mounted.
You can save multiple configurations for even more flexibility thanks to the Lens Memory function (accessible from the menus or the Position button on the remote control).
Sony does have two quality levels of optics. The VPL-VW715ES uses the standard lens while the ARC-F (All Range Crisp Focus) lens is Sony’s premium projector lens and is used in Sony’s more expensive models like the VW995ES and the VW5000ES.
The ARC-F ensures excellent, outstanding focus across the entire screen and significantly reduced chromatic aberration (color fringing) to deliver a sharper projected image in those more premium models. A laser light source and the ARC-F lens are the main reason why the VW995ES costs about 3 times more than the VW715ES.
Like Sony’s other 4K home theater projectors, the VPL-VW715ES includes minimal inputs and connectors. A pair of 18Gbps HDMI 2.0b/HDCP 2.2 compatible inputs allow playback of 4K@60 HDP content. This is fine since most projectors at this price point will be used in a full-blown home theater system. All the sources (STB, media player, game system, etc.) will likely be connected to an AV receiver that will feed video to the VW715ES via a single HDMI anyway.
There are several custom integration focused connections like an RJ45 ethernet jack so you can hardwire the projector to your Local Area Network (LAN). There are also a pair of 12-volt screen triggers for controlling a motorized screen, a masking system, motorized shades, or an anamorphic lens. The remaining connections are also for command and control. There is a traditional RS232 serial port, a USB port, and an IR input.
Since this is a “serious” home theater projector, you will not find an internal speaker or an audio output. In a home theater, audio is normally handled by an AV receiver and speakers, so the lack of audio features is not a real concern. As I mentioned earlier, this type of projector normally does not have multiple sources connected directly to it since a receiver is typically utilized for AV switching. Also, since the VW715ES is not equipped with internal streaming services, this further negates the need for audio outputs.
Sony uses a common menu system across its full lineup of Home Theater Projectors. While Sony has not changed their menus’ look and feel in years, extra menu items appear to control any new features, and capabilities added.
Of course, the higher-end model projectors have more menus because of more features. For example, the VW715ES offers menus for Lens Memory, which it supports, while the VW295ES does not. Just about everything relating to the picture and color is on the primary Picture menu. The Menu positions are adjustable (ideally, you will move them out of the dead center). The type is slightly on the small side, but still easily read from a normal seating distance. Overall, the menus are well thought out and organized.
The VW715ES includes Sony’s standard backlit projector remote control included with all their consumer 4K projectors. Since it is bigger than many projector’s remotes, the buttons are large and well-spaced. You can use dedicated buttons to quickly switch between the Calibrated Picture Presets. To make quick, fine adjustments to the image, there are buttons to directly access many of the picture quality settings including MotionFlow, Color Temp, and Gamma Correction.
Having direct access to the HDR Contrast Enhancer via a dedicated button is especially useful when viewing HDR materials. It’s quick and easy to switch between the High, Mid, and Low settings to adjust the look of HDR content.
© 2019 Projector Reviews (V0625)