Posted on September 16, 2020 By Phil Jones
Sony VPL-VW915ES 4K SXRD Projector Review- Summary: Highlights, Value Proposition, Pros and Cons
I was very pleased with the VW715ES picture. I used a VW695ES as my reference projector for several months, and the VW715ES’s image quality was noticeably better. There was an improvement in contrast, along with black levels, and colors were more saturated.
As expected, when it comes to HD and 4K SDR content, the Sony VW715ES was outstanding. While calibration will improve the picture quality, the VW715ES delivered an accurate, natural-looking picture right out-of-the-box. Once the projector is calibrated, the unit’s Auto Calibrate feature ensures that the VW915ES will deliver “calibrated” color accuracy for years, even as the lamp ages.
Many projectors deliver significantly less than their rated brightness when placed in their most accurate picture mode. It is not uncommon to see the brightness cut in half. The VPL-VW715ES produced close to its rated brightness of 1800 lumens, and in its best picture mode – REFERENCE, it still managed about 1400 lumens.
Its native 4K resolution SXRD panels delivered a sharp picture. The VW715ES did an excellent job upscaling HD content, and the black level of the VW715ES is better than the previous model. Only JVC DILA projectors and higher end Sony models like the VW915ES might rival or beat this Sony’s black level and contrast, but, likely, no DLP model can even come close.
Like its big brother, the VW915ES, the most notable thing about the VW715ES is its great HDR performance. On a lot of projectors, HDR video can appear dull due to a lack of brightness. Sony’s new HDR Contrast Enhancer feature tries to eliminate this problem. HDR Contrast Enhancer measures the average and peak brightness of the HDR10 content scene by scene for precise dynamic tone mapping to maximize the projector’s HDR picture quality.
The new projector’s optimized X1 processor combines signal HDR analysis with a dynamic iris to produce a great looking HDR picture.
Lastly, the VW715ES is packed with “installer-friendly” features, including a motorized lens with tons of zoom and lens shift that includes position memories. Having a large amount of zoom and shift capability makes installation a breeze, especially when you are trying to replace an older, previously mounted unit. The Picture Position Memories feature is great for customers with masking screens or anyone who want to maximize the image size of 16:9 and widescreen on a 2.35:1 screen.
With a retail price of just under $10,000, the VW715ES is more expensive than a DLP based laser home theater projector, but if you truly care about picture quality and if the VW715ES in your price range, it should be at the top of your list.
While the VW715ES retails for around $10,000, its picture quality was close to the VW915ES for half the price. It is a great value, but you will still have to deal with bulb replacements.
I have yet to find a single chip consumer 4K DLP projector that could come close to the color fidelity, native contrast, and black levels of a good LCoS projector like the Sony VW715ES. It is not even a fair fight as Sony 4K SXRD projectors are in another league. If you have the budget to step up from a 4K DLP projector to a 4K LCoS projector like a Sony 4K SXRD unit, you should absolutely do it.
Epson makes some great 4K e-shift projectors like the LS10500 ($7,999), which offers the benefits of a laser light engine, including low maintenance and long life. However, the Epson lacks the resolution or HDR performance of the VW715ES.
The JVC NX7 /RS2000 ($8,999.95) is the only comparable native 4K LCoS Home Theater model near the price point of the VW715ES. The JVC has a higher rated contrast, delivers native 4K resolution, and includes dynamic HDR analysis/tone mapping for $1,000 less.
Does the enhanced video processing provided by the projector optimized X1 processor make the Sony worth its $1,000 price premium? Hopefully, I will be able to compare both units side-by-side, so be on the lookout for that review coming soon!
For customers with smaller budgets, Sony also offers the VW295ES ($5,000 SRP), which is a lamp-based projector. The VW295ES lacks a dynamic Iris and does not have the X1 processor or the HDR Contrast Enhancer feature. Those three features make the VW715ES worth the extra money.
While the VW715ES does command a premium price over a 4K DLP projector, its outstanding SDR and HDR picture quality and features make it a great option for any movie enthusiast who can afford it.
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