Full HD 3D SXRD Home Theater Projector
April 2, 2012
Sony's new VPL-VW95ES is a fully-featured powerhouse of a home theater projector. At $5,999, the VW95ES is a step above the numerous projectors in the $2,000 to $4,000 price bracket, and that step up in price brings a commensurate step in performance. The projector's 1000 lumen output is perfect for dark room home theater, while its 150,000:1 contrast gives the picture a natural, three-dimensional quality. Excellent color controls ensure life-like reproduction of any content you choose to watch. A 1.6:1 powered zoom lens with powered H/V lens shift makes setup a snap. The projector is also full HD 3D compatible and includes two pairs of glasses. An included three-year warranty keeps everything running smoothly. The VW95 is a solid value for projector enthusiasts who are serious about home theater.
The Viewing Experience
Lots of home theater projectors these days are essentially dual-purpose machines, allowing for projection in both darkened home theaters and brighter living room environments. The Sony VPL-VW95ES is not one of those projectors. From the ground up, this thing is built as a home theater machine. Everything about it is tailored for use in the dark, so to get the best possible performance out of the VW95 you'll need to spend some time on light control.
When you fire up the VW95, it's not very bright as projectors go. While most HT projectors have a brighter living room or dynamic mode, the VW95's Dynamic mode is just a slightly brighter, slightly bluer version of its normal Cinema modes. If you are looking for a multi-purpose projector, the VW95 is not recommended.
Once you get the VW95 set up in a dark room, everything changes. The projector's deep black level, which rivals that of the impressive Epson 5010, only really shines in a room with no ambient light. Color, which is already fairly close to 6500K out of the box and can be made closer still via calibration, is well-saturated and accurate. Objects on screen look life-like, not artificial or exaggerated. The picture has plenty of detail, but sharpness is not overdriven and there's no evidence of edge enhancement. And while the VW95 does have a frame interpolation system, the effect is quite subtle (and if you still don't like it, you can always turn it off).
In our preferred operation mode (Cinema 2, low lamp, middle of the zoom range) the VW95 lights up a 100" diagonal 1.3 gain screen at 18 fL. That's plenty bright, even if there's a little bit of ambient light in the room (though this will compromise black levels before it ever threatens brightness). When watching 3D, the decrease in brightness will likely require smaller screen sizes.