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Sony VPL-VW885ES 4K Laser Projector Review - Performance

Posted on September 1, 2017 by Art Feierman


I’ll keep this short and sweet. With this unit being pre-production, I didn’t feel the burning desire to measure all of the Sony’s color modes.

I can tell you two things instead.  Almost all of the Sony modes are within 20% of each other in brightness that from just viewing them.  After that, I measured Bright Cinema, one of the brightest modes.  It just slightly beat the 2000-lumen claim by less than 4%.  So let’s say the Sony tops out at about 2100 lumens.  But remember, it’s a laser, so it’s going to be years, not months (lamp projectors), before there’s any significant drop in brightness!

This image from Casino Royale (1080p) is bright and vibrant.

And remember, this is a pre-production unit.  Rule of thumb says to expect the ones you folks get to buy, will be a bit brighter!

Bottom line:  Plenty bright and will stay that way for a long time.


Congratulations, Sony, for not even giving me a contrast spec!  Good for them.  Everyone tends to distort their contrast specs enough to make them useless. In theory, they tell you able black level performance, but it’s easy to find a projector with good black levels that claims 5x the contrast of another brand projector with far better black level performance.

Suffice it to say, Sony’s black-level performance is pretty stellar.

One thing to point out (again).  This Sony not only turns off the laser for black frames, but uses the laser as a dynamic iris. Smart move, real gains from doing so.  All the laser and LED projectors should be doing the same, but it’s rare.

I’ve been hammering on several manufacturers about this for a few years (definitely including Epson, BenQ, and Sony.


True 4K resolution of 4096×2160.  No pixel shifting or funky processing needed to produce an excellently sharp image from 4K content.  And, of course, everything 1080 resolution looks great too, but let’s focus on 4K, as even the sharpest 4K projector, at best won’t look significantly sharper than a good sharp 1080p projector, especially if that 1080p is a pixel shifter. These are all 4K content.

True 4K projector come into their own when feeding you 4K content.

All the images in the player above are from the Sony VW885ES except the last three cropped images, those are from the 4K UHD65 Optoma which is one of the lowest cost 4K UHD projectors.  The point is, true 4K trumps 4K UHD.  I get a lot of comments and emails about it doesn’t matter – 4K UHD says 8.3 million pixels is all that matters.

I say 4K UHD projectors (DLPs like the UHD65 that are 2716×1528 x 2), still are working with pixels that are twice the area in size.  The difference in pixel size is about that of the difference between a baseball and a softball.

The last image is the Epson 5040UB same price point as the Optoma, but a 1080p pixel shifter. It’s got its image processing cranked up to 4 (as high as I like) so is pretty comparable but not as sharp seeming as the Optoma, which in turn is about equally as not as sharp as the Sony!  in other words, true 4K rules, 4K UHD pixel shifting gets close to true 4K, 1080p pixel shifting gets close to 4K UHD pixel shifting.  Each one is one increment sharper, as you move up in resolution.

The differences are easy to pick out on the close-ups, between the three projectors.  And the Sony definitely rules! Even the difference between the Epson and Sony isn’t dramatic, but then, there’s a lot more to this Sony than its full resolution.


Quiet, and Quieter

I haven’t seen a spec yet, but I’ll guesstimate it at no more than 24 or 25 db at full power, and that is quiet, quieter than most lamp based projectors even when they are running in their low power  eco mode.

Shh! if you turn the volume down all the way, tilt your head, and listen very carefully you just might hear the VPL-VW885ES’s impressively quiet fan.

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