Posted on September 8, 2020 By Phil Jones
Sony VPL-VW915ES 4K SXRD Projector Review- Summary: Highlights, Value Proposition, Pros and Cons
The VW915ES excels at just about everything picture wise, and for that matter, feature-wise as well. Its best modes are very close to calibrated color, without any adjustment at all. Sharpness is very natural looking. The Reality Creation (detail enhancement feature) in its setting of 20 settings of provided great sharpness with virtually no visible artifacts.
When it comes to HD and 4K SDR content, as expected, the Sony VW915ES was outstanding. While calibration will improve the picture quality, the VW915ES delivered an accurate, natural-looking picture right out of the box. Once the projector is calibrated, its laser light engine combined with the unit’s Auto Calibrate feature ensures that the VW915ES will deliver “calibrated” color accuracy for several years.
Add to that excellent black level performance. Only the top of the line JVCs might rival or beat this Sony, but it’s likely that nothing else even comes close.
The most notable thing about the VW915ES is its excellent 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. This feature measures the average and peak brightness of HDR10 content frame by frame for precise dynamic tone mapping to maximize the projector’s HDR picture quality.
The new projector optimized X1 processor combines signal HDR analysis laser light modulation, with a dynamic iris to produce the best looking HDR picture, I have seen to date.
Lastly, the VW915ES 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 are 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.
The VW915ES delivered the best image quality I have ever seen in my room. It took only a few hours of watching 4K (with/without HDR) to determine that the VW915ES projector deserves one of our Hot Product Awards.
With a retail price of $19,999.99, the VW915ES may be out of many people’s price range, but if you truly care about picture quality and can afford it the VW915ES should be at the top of your list.
While the VW915ES retails for $19,999.99, it is the least expensive native 4K LCoS laser Home Theater projector on the market so I would still consider it a value.
I have yet to find a single chip consumer 4K DLP projector that could come close to the color fidelity, native contrast, and black level of a good LCoS projector like the Sony VW915ES. 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 VW915ES.
The JVC DLA-RS4500K ($24,999) is the only comparable native 4K LCoS laser Home Theater model anywhere near the price point of the VW915ES. The JVC is brighter and utilizes better optics, but since it was introduced several years ago, it just cannot match the VW915ES dynamically tone mapped HDR performance.
The real VW915ES competitor in JVC’s lineup is the DLA-NX9 (DLA-RS3000). The JVC offers great optic, native 4K resolution, and dynamic tone mapping for $2000 less but it does not have a laser light engine.
While the NX9 does include JVC’S 8K/e-shift technology, the projector does not support 8K signal input and I am not convinced that there would be a notable improvement in resolution compared to a 4K projector viewed from a normal distance.
The DLA-NX9 does offer higher native contrast, but the VW915ES dynamic iris, combined with its precisely modulated laser light source, basically eliminates the JVC’s contrast advantage during real-world viewing.
The $2,000 premium for the VW915ES is worth it to get all the benefits of a laser light source. The unit’s laser illumination not only eliminates the hassle of replacing projector bulbs, but it also delivers a more consistent brightness and color for years and years.
For customers with smaller budgets, Sony also just introduced the VW715ES ($8000 SRP) which is the lamp-based replacement for the VW695ES. While it does not utilize a laser light source, it does have the same X1 processor as well as the new HDR Contrast Enhancer feature which makes a noticeable improvement to its HDR performance compared to the older VW695ES.
While the VW915ES does command a premium price, because of its outstanding SDR and HDR picture quality and feature set, it should be on the short of any enthusiast who can afford it.
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