Sony has announced the release of two native 4K SXRD home theater projectrors, resulting in a near-complete refresh of its line since September 2020 that includes a new flagship and updates to four out of five pre-existing long-throw 4K models.
With the introduction of the VPL-VW325ES ($5,499) and VPL-VW1025ES ($39,999), Sony has replaced its previous entry-level 4K SXRD projector (the VPL-VW295ES) and its prior premium model with a non-detachable lens (VPL-VW995ES). Each carries a $500 price hike over its predecessor, and in the case of the VPL-VW325ES, marks the end of Sony's long-running "4K under $5K" marketing claim that began with the introduction of the VPL-VW285ES in 2017.
Like the three models introduced in September, the VPL-VW715ES ($9,999; replaces VPL-VW695ES), VPL-VW915ES ($19,999; replaces VPL-VW885ES), and new 10,000-lumen VPL-GTZ380 ($80,000 excluding lens), the two new models feature Sony's X1 for projector processor, a spin-off of the powerful X1 processor used in its premium Bravia televisions.
Critically, both projectors use the additional processing power to monitor the signal and execute versions of the Dynamic HDR Enhancer feature introduced in the fall. The VPL-VW1025ES is a 2,200-lumen laser projector that uses a combination of laser modulation, a dynamic iris, and signal processing to effect both a deepening of blacks and a boosting of highlights for a better HDR experience. Like its predecessor model, it also uses a version of Sony's high-end ARC-F lens. Image clarity is further enhanced by Sony's Digital Focus Optimizer technology, which monitors the zoom lens position and uses the information to inform signal processing that corrects inherent optical errors at the outer edges of the image.
The VPL-VW325ES is lamp-driven and rated for 1,500 lumens. It is available in either a black or white chassis. Like the VPL-VW295ES that came before it, it features no mechanical iris and its HDR Enhancer implementation benefits only from signal processing. It uses the same high quality aspherical lens found in the VPL-VW715ES and VPL-VW915ES. This projector lacks the Digital Focus Optimizer feature found in the higher end models, though it does share with them an enhanced Reality Creation scaling engine that makes use of the more powerful processor to further improve clarity on images of native 1080p or lesser resolution and better perform digital noise reduction.
Like their predecessors, both models offer powered zoom, focus, and lens shift and also like their predecessors, the entry-level VPL-VW325 lacks lens memory settings that might be used for a constant-image-height (CIH) setup on a 2.35:1 'Scope-style screen.
Sony's input lag reduction mode found in earlier models is available on both new projectors for a respectable claimed 27 milliseconds of lag when gaming with 4K/60 Hz signals. HDMI ports are version 2.0 with 18 Gbps bandwidth and HDCP 2.2 copyright management.
Of course, both new projectors feature Sony's LCoS-based SXRD imaging technology. They use the same 0.74-inch, 4096x2160-resolution chips found in the earlier models, which were updated in 2017 to provide a deeper native black. The three-chip design (one each for the red, green, and blue primaries) eliminates any chance of rainbow artifacts found on single-chip DLP projectors and guarantees equal white and color brightness.
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With these introductions, all of Sony's long-throw 4K home theater projectors now feature the new X1 for projector processor except for the 5,000-lumen VPL-VW5000ES ($60,000). The VPL-VZ1000ES UST 4K laser projector ($14,999) and VPL-HW65ES 1080p SXRD projector ($2,999) have also been carried over from the previous line-up.
Both the VPL-VW1025ES and VPL-VW325ES can be pre-ordered as of today with expected availability in May. ProjectorCentral's review of the VPL-VW325ES will publish later this month.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Sony VPL-VW325ES-B projector page.