After three years, the successor to Sony’s VPL-VW885ES is finally here. Sony announced their new VPL-VW915ES today and was kind enough to send us one for our first impressions.
The most exciting news I can share is that Sony lowered the price of the previous model by five thousand dollars, bringing the MSRP down to $ 19,999. So whether or not your budget prevented you from buying the 885ES or not, your hesitation has served you well. You can now get a nearly identical projector for a lot less money.
As its asking price suggests, the 915ES is intended for installation in a high-end home theater and offers owners several high-end niceties. Most of the specs are the same as the 885ES, which includes native 4K resolution, a long-lasting laser light source offering up to 2000 output lumens, and high native and dynamic contrast ratios. The projector also supports HDR10 and REC2020, has a fully motorized lens and has advanced video processing capabilities, among other things.
The 915ES also features Sony’s digital focus optimizer for better image sharpness, a feature the 885ES received via the firmware update last year. But the 915ES adds dual contrast control for improved contrast performance and unlike the 885ES I’m told the new model has an updated “X1 for Projector” video processor.
Sony was still finalizing some of the specifications and marketing materials for the 915ES at the time of this writing, so I’m not able to detail all of the improvements this new processor brings. One key thing that has been mentioned about this new processor, however, is that it allows the 915ES to boost HDR10 tonemap (DTM) video content. Those of you who know my reviews will now know how important I think DTM is for projectors. It has the ability to completely transform the look of HDR10 video content through low light displays like the 915ES. At the premium price of this projector, I fully expected Sony to add this feature to at least match the JVC DTM solution added to its native 4K projectors last year. Sony has dubbed this new feature “Dynamic HDR Enhancer”, and it replaces the Contrast Enhancement menu option when the projector detects an HDR10 image.
Before you get too excited, I’ll note that my limited testing of the 915ES with HDR10 video content indicates that this doesn’t seem like a traditional DTM solution. Instead, Sony digitally compensates the projected image to more closely match the PQ curve at which HDR10 video content is mastered. So, in a way, this changes the tone of the picture, but not in the traditional way that other DTM solutions do. Unfortunately, this means that subjective dynamic range and overall image brightness are still lacking compared to competing DTM solutions from JVC, Lumagen, and madVR.
Don’t get me wrong, regular HDR10 video content is definitely better with this feature enabled. But watching an HDR10 video of the latest Spears & Munsil test disc showed that the 915ES had obvious clipping issues with some content. Slicing is a digital artifact typically seen with static tonemap solutions and would not be a problem if a true DTM solution were used.
That said, the HDR10 content I tested still looked great overall, easily beating any other projectors I’ve tested other than the latest JVC models with true DTM functionality. The image is punchy and intense in color, as you would expect from a current Sony 4K SXRD model. And its true native 4K resolution is a sight to behold when playing high-quality, high-resolution source material. Nonetheless, I think including a true DTM solution at this price point would have made this projector a lot more exciting and made its value proposition a lot bigger.
Look for a full review of the Sony VPL-VW915ES 4K SXRD projector soon in Home Theater Review.
What it is: Sony VPL-VW915ES 4K SXRD Projector
What we like: The overall image quality and the price reduction compared to its predecessor.
What we don’t do: Sony does not use a traditional DTM solution currently offered by competing brands.
Cut: 22.06 by 8.78 by 19.53 inches; 44 pounds
MSRP: $ 19,999
• Visit the Sony website for more product information.
• Discover our Front Projector Notice Category Page to read similar reviews.
• Sony VPL-VW995ES 4K SXRD projector reviewed HomeTheaterReview.com.