Sony VPL-VW285ES LCOS Projector Review Test Bench

Test Bench

Full-On/Full-Off Contrast Ratio in HD/SDR: 5,025:1

Measurements were produced with CalMAN calibration software from SpectraCal, Photo Research PR-650 and Klein K-10A color meters, and a Murideo pattern generator. The settings I used are here. The chart shown is for HD/SDR.


The peak white reading for the above contrast measurement was 20.1 foot- lamberts (68.9 nits), and the black level 0.004 ft-L (0.0137 nit). At maximum zoom (the largest image), the full-on/full-off contrast ratio measured 3,833:1; at minimum zoom, 3,788:1. (For these measurements, the projector and meter positions were unchanged, but the lens shift was altered as needed to center the measurement point on the screen.)

For HDR, as viewed, the full-on/full-off contrast ratio measured 2,763:1 at a peak white level of 38.7 ft-L (132.64 nits) and a black level of 0.014 ft-L (0.048 nit).

Set to 2.4, the SDR gamma measured a minimum of 2.26 at 20%, increasing gradually to a maximum of 2.43 at 80%. The white balance SDR Delta E values, from 20% to 100%, measured a minimum of 1.29 at 60% and a max- imum of 3.0 at 100%. After SDR cali- bration, the maximum was 1.92 at 20%. Pre-calibration, the SDR color Delta Es were all under 2.93—so for SDR, the Color Correction (CMS) controls weren’t used.

(Delta E is a figure of merit indicat- ing how close the color comes to the standard at each point in the bright- ness range. Values below 3—some experts allow for 4—are generally considered visually indistinguishable from ideal. From 3.0 (or 4.0) to 10.0, most viewers will notice the deviations but not likely find them objectionable.)

The grayscale Delta Es are typically high in HDR because they often include not only the white point but also luminance errors, the latter significant in HDR. But after calibra- tion, and apart from the region between 50% and 60%, the actual x/y white-point coordinates were very close to the optimum (D65), and all the colors (apart from green, which deviated significantly by measurement but not in a way easily detected by eye) closely matched their target coordinates.


As with all other UHD/HDR displays we’ve tested, the Sony falls well short of full coverage of BT.2020 wide color. But since all UHD sources we know of are still originally mastered at P3, what counts, for now, is how fully a display’s BT.2020 color container is filled to the “P3 level.” The Sony comes very close to that level in yellow and magenta at all stimulus levels, is good in blue, red, and cyan, and is poor by mea- surement (though visually acceptable) in green.

The peak HDR brightness on screen actually increased slightly from the 136.2 nits measured with a 10% white window to 145 nits at 25%, 144 nits at 50%, and 140.5 nits at 100%.—TJN

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BrianDX's picture

I found Mr. Norton's review very fair and on point. I've owned this projector for 10 days and I am very pleased with it so far.

One note: There is at least important reason to use the "Enhanced Format" option for the HDMI input; from my experience without this setting Netflix and Amazon will not pass HDR from 4K sources to the Sony through my Roku. Only after enabling this feature was I able to get the Roku to accept HDR material and pass it along to the Sony.

I think the 13.5 Ghz limitation affects more cases than first thought. I can't understand why the Sony doesn't support the full 18 Ghz bandwith.

drny's picture

I've auditioned Sony's VPL-VW285ES, and I concur with Mr. Norton's overall analysis. The 285 should be considered a great deal for those in the market for a true 4k projector, but by no means a bargain.
Frankly, If I could afford it I would take the plunge.
BrianDX comments and observation regarding his own personal experience with the product are also informative and worthwhile.
The two main projector review websites gushed all over the Sony, but leave it to S&V and its knowledgeable readers to actually hit the mark on overall product evaluation.
Now if the 285ES had the black levels of a JVC-DLA faux 4k projector, I would break the piggy bank and go for it.

Rob Sabin's picture
This is an exciting breakthrough product that brings true native 4k (no pixel-shifting required as with the new 4K DLP models) to a new low price point, and Sony is to be commended. But everyone should be aware that it's very much a market response those new 4K DLP models priced under the $5,000 mark (the $2,00-$2,500 Optoma models and others sure to come) that Sony is to now forced to compete with. To hit that price point, though, the big compromise was a sacrifice in black level, which in turn hurts observable contrast ratio/dynamic range. Don't get me wrong, because contrast was very good with this projector, and Sony does the best they can with their software based dynamic contrast enhancement. But releasing this projector without any sort of dynamic iris feature prevents it from hitting top-tier performance in its handling of dark scenes, and as Tom points out, it's noticeable. Given that dynamic range is the most critical aspect of image quality (that's not just me talking, but ISF and others), it's wise to weigh the benefit of true native 4K vs deeper blacks and potentially even more punch on HDR content that can be had today with a more fully-featured 1080p pixel shifter from JVC or Epson. (I leave the DLP 4K pixel-shifters out of this for now because we've measured poor NATIVE contrast from that chip on the two projectors we've tested so far, and, neither of them had a suitably proficient dynamic contrast mechanism (iris or otherwise) to provide acceptable blacks. That may change in time.)

All of these options are 4K-friendly projectors that allow viewing of UHD content and some degree of realization of high dynamic range and wide color gamut. So, pick your poison, but understand the trade-offs. We have Tom's review pending on next week of JVC's new $6,000 DLA-X790R, which is a fully loaded 1080p pixel-shifter that noticeably outperforms this Sony at least in terms of contrast and black level, though both units are otherwise closely matched. We will publish simultaneously Tom's direct face-off comparison of both projectors. Epson's Home Cinema 4000, at $2,200 (reviewed in our December print issue and pending shortly for the website as well), itself brings a new low price to a 4K-friendly 1080p pixel-shifting projector, but also suffers from somewhat mediocre contrast despite a dynamic iris. Epson's 6040UB, which had a $4,000 list price when we tested it for our October issue in 2016 (review online), performed better with blacks.