Sony BRAVIA VPL-VW85
1080p SXRD Home Theater Projector
Sony's flagship home theater model, the BRAVIA VPL-VW85, is a behemoth of a 1080p projector. Designed from the ground up for home cinema use, the VW85 sports 800 ANSI lumens of real-world brightness and a 120,000:1 claimed contrast ratio. Amenities like a 1.55:1 powered zoom lens with both vertical and horizontal lens shift make it easy to place the VW85 in a wide variety of theaters.
However, few people buy a projector like this for the features since there are many projectors that have the same features but cost much less. Most potential buyers of the VW85 are concerned with one thing: image quality. When you pop in a Blu-Ray movie or turn on Sunday's game, what you get is the experience as it is meant to be seen, right there in your home theater. The VW85 has a dynamic, three-dimensional image that jumps off the screen, with color so life-like you'd swear you were there. Home theater excellence is attainable for just under $8,000 from your local custom installer.
Light output. The VPL-VW85 is rated for 800 lumens of brightness. In the ideal mode for home cinema--Cinema 3 with a custom color temperature--our test unit measured 763 lumens, or 95% of the specified output. Many home theater projectors have much higher lumen ratings, but once they are calibrated they lose a significant amount of light, causing cinema mode to be much dimmer than the specification would imply. 763 real, color-calibrated lumens in cinema mode is excellent performance by any metric, and the VW85 outputs more than enough light to be used on even a 160" screen in a theater with proper light control. On smaller screens, one might wish to engage low lamp mode to decrease output. Switching to low lamp mode reduces light output by 36%, to 490 lumens. This is just about right for a 120" screen in a light-controlled room or a 100" screen with mild ambient light.
These lumen readings were taken with the lens at its widest angle. As with all zoom lenses, some light is always lost when moving the lens from its widest angle setting to the longest throw; in this case, the drop-off was 23%. This would bring Cinema 3 to 586 lumens in high lamp mode or 376 lumens in low lamp mode. Even at 376 lumens, using the VW85 on a 100" diagonal low-gain screen results in a bright, engaging picture.
Contrast. In a darkened room, the VW85 has great contrast. Thanks to the action of an automatic iris, dark scenes are dimmed down significantly, while bright scenes are opened up. This allows both highlights and shadows to be fully expressed, though never in the same scene--obviously, the iris cannot selectively dim some parts of an image while brightening others. Even in scenes without extreme highlights or shadows, the VW85 still has a very three-dimensional picture. And when switching between the two extremes, the operation of the iris was undetectable, even during rapid changes between low and high average light levels.
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