Sony Launches Two New 4K Projectors
Sony has revealed that it’s expanding its current range of 4K SXRD projectors with two new models: the entry-level VPL-VW290ES and the premium VPL-VW890ES.
These new models look set to be perfect ‘bookend’ companions for the VW590ES and VW790ES models Sony released in the last quarter of 2020 - models that have already picked up multiple awards worldwide. Including one of our very own Applause Awards for the VW590ES.
Let’s start with the model aimed at all you oil magnates out there: The VPL-VW890ES ($38,999 RRP). As you would expect, this model shares many of the key features you get with the step-down but still high-end $22,999 VW790ES. So, for starters, it uses a laser light source to illuminate its native 4K SXRD projector optics - and always with SXRD, those optics use three separate SXRD panels for the R, G and B colour elements.
It also benefits from the new X1 For Projector processor. This combines previous successful Sony features such as the Digital Focus Optimiser for maintaining clarity right across the image and exceptional 4K Motion Flow motion processing with two new features: a Dynamic HDR Enhancer, and a new, improved Reality Creation system.
The first of these almost magically manages to significantly boost the brightness of light parts of HDR images while simultaneously delivering better black levels to produce a more satisfying HDR experience - based on our experience with the VW590ES and VW790ES - than you get with arguably any other projector right now. What’s more, with the 2,200 lumens VW890ES the Dynamic HDR Enhancer has 10% more peak light output to work with than it does even on the VW790ES.
The new Reality Creation system delivers an even sharper, cleaner upgrade to sub-4K sources than its already impressive predecessor, and even manages to make native 4K images look somehow better than they do in their already pristine native state.
Having a couple more hundred lumens of light to its name isn’t the main reason why the VW890ES costs almost twice as much as the VW790ES, though. That honour belongs to its All Range Crisp Focus (ARC-F) Lens. This no-expense-spared large-diameter item utilises 18 all-glass elements arranged in 15 groups, complete with six extra-low dispersion elements, to ensure that it brings every last pixel of the projector’s native 4K resolution to your screen with total precision.
It even uses a hardware system (rather than the software-based Digital Focus Optimiser) to keep focus pin sharp right into the image’s corners. This deploys a floating lens ‘group’ at the front to handle adjustments, while a separate second lens group further back concentrates specifically on focus.
With the VW890ES’s price likely making it the stuff of dreams for most AV fans, though, the new VPL-VW290ES offers a much more affordable way into Sony’s new HDR projection world. Inevitably its massively cheaper at $8,999 price means you have to lose a fair number of the features supported by the VW890ES. There’s no high-end glass lens, for instance, and the laser lighting (with its contrast-boosting dual light management feature) of the much more expensive model is replaced by a regular projector lamp. The VW290ES’s peak brightness is rated at 1500 lumens vs the 2,200 of the VW890ES, too.
Impressively, though, even Sony’s new entry-level 4K SXRD model still benefits from the new Sony X1 For Projector chipset, complete with both the all-important Dynamic HDR Enhancer functionality and the new Reality Creation processing. It even manages to retain the support for separate SDR and HDR calibrations Sony has introduced to its projectors for the first time on its new range.
Both of Sony’s new projectors are expected to go on sale globally from May - and you can expect reviews of both new models on StereoNET very soon.
I’ve spent the past 25 years writing about the world of home entertainment technology. In that time I’m fairly confident that I’ve reviewed more TVs and projectors than any other individual on the planet, as well as experiencing first-hand the rise and fall of all manner of great and not so great home entertainment technologies.