Projector Reviews

Sony VPL-VW885ES 4K Laser Projector Review – Special Features 2

Sony VPL-VW885ES 4K Laser Projector Review – Special Features 2: Lens Memory, Auto Calibration, Sony – But Not That Smart

Lens Memory

Lens Memory means having motorized lens functions and the ability to save different settings, say, one for HDTV, and one for widescreen movies. If you go with a 16:9 screen – typical for HDTV and some movies, lens memory is a luxury you don’t really need.  But…

If movies are most important to you, the large majority of movies made today are “wide widescreen,” noticeably wider than an HDTV-shaped screen, if both have the same height. What this means to you is, when watching most movies – the widescreen ones –  you end up with a smaller image than when watching, say, a football game because the letterboxing at the top and bottom is black.

If you go widescreen, then the movie size is typically about 25% larger than HDTV, so you can see why many of us go widescreen. (I have for the past 7 years.)

The problem is, if you have a wide screen it’s setup so the widescreen movie fits it horizontally and vertically, but what that means is that when you switch to HDTV, or a made-for-TV-movie that is 16:9 aspect ratio, the picture will overshoot the top and bottom of the screen by about 20% total. Ouch!

So, to fix that, you would zoom out a bit, making a smaller image, and adjust the lens shift so that all of it fits the screen. Now, if you don’t have motorized features, you would have to get up and manually adjust both. That is, first of all, a pain, and second of all, impractical for most people without a step stool or ladder if the projector is ceiling mounted.

Thus, you can see why movie-first types love Lens Memory – once you set it for HDTV and widescreen, it’s just a press of a button for the right size image to be projected in the right place. Nice!

Auto Calibration

One of my favorite features on Sony’s laser projectors is Auto Calibration. Lamps shift color quite a bit as they age (starting from day one), which is why many calibrators will tell you to wait at least a couple hundred hours before calibrating. (Of course, as reviewers, we don’t have that luxury of time.)

Once you have calibrated your projector, (at any point, but perhaps once or twice a year is plenty), you might use the Auto Calibrate feature, which should accurately return to producing the same final colors, etc., that you had when you finished calibrating it.

Sweet! For lamp-based projectors, not only do you rarely find an Auto Calibrate feature, but the problem is that when replacing lamps, that new lamp likely won’t have the same color characteristics when new as your previous lamp.

The Bottom Line: One of the many advantages of laser light engines is the ability to have and use an Auto Calibrate feature so that you always have “on the money” color accuracy.

Sony – But Not That Smart

Sadly, projectors are pretty stupid devices. Still, projectors can play with the motorized shades and motorized screens going up and down with their i12-volt screen triggers to control those motorized screens, shades, etc. But, it is the projector itself that is harder to control. One of these days, though, they will make projectors smarter. Some of the smaller ones, low cost pocket projectors in particular, are looking about as smart as may of today’s LCD TVs.

What this Sony, or just about any other over $1,000 projector still can’t do is be controlled (effortlessly) by Alexa, Siri, or Google. It doesn’t check for firmware updates, and automatically update when needed, as any game console and many LCD TVs have been doing for a decade. I find this unfortunate. At least for the Sony VW885ES, the typical owner is probably going to have the budget and will have their local installing dealer set up a proper control system, be it Crestron, Control4, for an easy experience.  Most likely by the time you read this, Crestron will have the ability for you to control this Sony – in part, with Alexa commands.

Still, why can’t all projectors be as smart and “smart friendly” as any typical under $1,000 65” TV?

The good news, is that’s about all I’ve found to complain about with this Sony.