Sony's Unveils Three 4K HDR Projectors

Sony introduced three new 4K HDR projectors at the 2019 CEDIA EXPO: the VPL-VW295ES at $5,000, the VPL-VW695ES at $10,000, and the VPL-VW995ES at $35,000. (Remaining in its extensive home projector lineup are the 4K VW5000ES and VW885ES, the 2K HW65ES and HW45ES, and the short throw 4K VZ1000ES).

The lamp-based VPL-VW295ES replaces the VPL-VW285ES, and is very similar to its predecessor in a number of ways—the same motorized lens but without lens memories, and no iris control, either manual or dynamic. But it adds a number if significant features. It’s now fully compatible with 18Gbps sources, meaning that it can display 4K HDR at 4:2:0, 60Hz, and 10-bits. The VPL-VW285ES was limited to 13.5Gbps.

Other changes include Motionflow that now operates in 4K, HDR options that fall “closer to the director’s intentions” (in Sony’s words), enhanced reality creation, 4K input lag reduction (limited to 2K sources in the VPL285), and a 4K-capable vertical stretch mode for use with an anamorphic lens. Sony also claims improved contrast as well and specifies the VPL-VW295ES’ peak output at 1500 lumens (in High lamp mode).

For more on the VPL-VW295ES, see Hands On with Sony’s New VPL-VW295ES, Part 1.

The VPL-VW385ES, $8,000 last year, has been discontinued, though the new, also lamp-lit VPL-VW695ES is essentially the VPL-VW385ES with the latter's features (including lens memories and a dynamic iris), a specified output of 1800 lumens (also in High lamp mode), and the upgrades offered by the VPL-VW295ES mentioned above.

The pricing on the laser-illuminated VPL-VW995ES may be a bit rich for most enthusiasts, but in addition to the above features it offers laser phosphor lighting with both dynamic iris and dynamic laser control for optimum blacks and shadow detail, 2200 lumens peak output (in High lamp mode), an impressive new, ARC-F (All-Range Crisp Focus) lens, and Sony’s new Digital Focus Optimizer that’s said to correct for the inevitable fall-off in sharpness from the image center to the edges in even the best of lenses.

In its demo theater, Sony had two presentations. The first featured the VW995ES on 165-inch (diagonal) 1.3-gain Screen Innovations screen supported by a 7.1.4 audio system featuring Sony’s own ES speakers. The presentation was generally excellent, though I thought a few of the scenes looked a little dark, while bright highlights were fine.

The feature attraction, however, was two VW995ES’ hooked up together to present a full 8K on the screen. I’m not exactly sure how they did this, and even if I was explaining it would take more than a blog. It wasn’t a product you can buy, but rather a technology demonstration. And an impressive one at that, though the gain from a single 4K, while visible, was subtle. It also wasn’t clear how much of the 8K source material was true 8K (extremely rare) vs. upconverted 4K.