Posted on September 8, 2020 By Phil Jones
Sony VPL-VW915ES 4K Laser Projector Review – Hardware 1: Overview, Inputs and Connectors, Control Panel, Lens
The VW915ES looks nearly identical to the older VW885ES it is replacing in Sony’s lineup as well as the higher end VW995ES. Like many higher end home theater projectors, the VW915ES is fairly large measuring approximately 22 inches wide, 8 ¾” high x 19 ½” deep, and weighing about 44 pounds. Dealing with a larger unit is a worthy sacrifice for better black levels, a motorized lens with shift, and quieter operation.
The VW915ES is slightly larger and 13 pounds heavier than Sony’s lamp-based 4K home theater models like the new VW715ES.
The front of the VW915ES is very clean with the motorized lens positioned in the center and the front IR sensor on the left. The unit’s fan intakes are on the front flanking the lens and the unit exhaust 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 right side of the chassis.
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. Next over 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 right navigation. Pressing it in is the Enter function. Lastly is the lens button, which brings up the menu to control lens focus, zoom, and lens shift.
It’s all very compact, and barely visible unless you are looking for it, as controls on a ceiling-mounted projector should be. After all, there’s a reason why we all use remote controls.
The 2.1:1 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 2.1:1 motorized zoom lens that is also used in the VW715ES and VW295ES which are both 4K projectors but are lamp-based.
When it comes to placement flexibility, the VW915ES 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 VW915ES offers motorized focus and zoom as well as plenty of horizontal and vertical lens shift.
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” or you can shift the top of the image up 41½ 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.
For even more flexibility, you can save multiple configurations 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-VW915ES uses the standard lens, which is still impressive, especially when compared to the optics found on many lower-cost 4K DLP projectors (selling for 1/10th this Sony’s price).
The ARC-F (All Range Crisp Focus) lens is Sony’s premium projector lens and it is used in Sony’s more expensive models like the VW995ES and the VW5000ES. One of the reasons why the VW995ES is $15,000 more than the VW915ES is that ultra-high-quality optics are very expensive, but they do make images sharper.
The ARC-F ensures outstanding focus was excellent across the entire screen and significantly reduce chromatic aberration (color fringing). If you are projecting on to a massive screen, it is worth the premium to be able to extract every ounce of detail for the 4K SXRD panels.
Like Sony’s other 4K home theater projectors, the VPL-VW915ES doesn’t sport a lot of inputs and connectors. There are just a pair of 18Gbps HDMI 2.0b/HDCP 2.2 Compatible which allows playback of [email protected] HDP content. This is fine since most projectors at this price point will be utilized in a full-blown home theater system. All the sources (cable box, media player, game system, etc.) will probably be connected to an AV Receiver feed video to the VW915ES 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 are a traditional RS232 serial port, a USB port, and an IR input.
Since this a “serious” home theater projector, you will not find an internal speaker or audio outputs. In a home theater, audio is normally handled by an A/V receiver and speakers, so the lack of audio features is not a big deal. As I mentioned earlier, this type of projector normally does not have multiple sources connected directly to it since a receiver is usually utilized for AV switching. Also, since the VW915ES is not equipped with internal streaming services this further negates the need for audio outputs.
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