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Sony VPL-VW85 SXRD Projector Review Print E-mail
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
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Sony VPL-VW85 SXRD Projector Review

ImageNot long ago, projecting an image large enough to fill anything bigger than an 80” screen required purchasing a CRT (cathode ray tube) projector that weighed as much as a Smart Car and who only an investment banker could afford.  Those CRT projectors projected film-like images with wonderful lush colors and excellent contrast, but they were slowly replaced with digital projectors weighing and costing one forth as much.  

Digital projection technology (DLP, HD-ILA and LCD) has made great strides in color accuracy, saturation, and contrast. Today's digital projectors can output brighter images on bigger screens and deliver the excitement of a big theater in the home, for prices well below those of our old friend the CRT projector.   The Sony VPL-VW85 Bravia SXRD projector is a digital projector based on SXRD (Silicon X-tal Reflective Display), which is Sony’s proprietary versions of LCoS technology.  LCoS is a reflective technology that is similar to DLP technology, but it uses liquid crystals instead of individual mirrors like in DLP.  


The Sony VPL-VW85 Bravia SXRD projector is the first Sony projector I have reviewed and I was anxious to dig-in.  I unboxed the projector and must say this is one sexy beast with a dark, sleek, curvy case that measures 18.6”W x 7.2”H x 19.0”D and weighs 26.5 lbs.  It is no waif, but no heavyweight either.

The Sony VPL-VW85 has a MSRP price of $8,000.00, but is loaded with features and technology.  Rather than put you to sleep with something that reads like an owner’s manual, let me just mention the features I think are important to note.  Inputs include RS-232C control, as well as two HDMI inputs, single component and composite inputs, and a PC input.  Both inputs and projector controls are located on the side.  The lens is mounted in the center and recessed with a protective door that slides open when the projector in powered on, and closes again at power-down, keeping dust off the lens.  A very cool feature.  

The HDMI CEC technology allows control of multiple devices from a single remote through a feature called BRAVIA Sync. The One Touch Play feature lets a user insert a disc into the player and by simply pressing "play" on the projector's remote, have the whole theatre system, including the projector, power up automatically and the movie start. In the same way, System Stand-By shuts down all HDMI-connected elements of the system at a single press of the Power/Standby button on the remote. The backlit remote is large, well laid out and works great.  

Sony VPL-VW85 Projector Front
The new VPL-VW85 projector features a full HD 1920 x 1080 progressive Silicon X-tal Reflective Display (SXRD) and 24p True Cinema  technology, Motionflow 120Hz processing with black frame insertion technology, which is claimed to provide exceptional clarity and resolution for fast moving images and a high dynamic contrast of 120,000:!, with brightness of 800 ANSI lumens.  Designed with the custom installation market in mind, the VPL-VW85 has a motorized, fully adjustable, 'lens shift' function that offers more options in terms of installation and projector placement, without image distortion. This allows you to tilt the image up or down without physically moving the projector.  

The lens offers a 1.6x motorized zoom and focus with horizontal and vertical adjustment, making it easy to set up in a variety of environments and distances from a screen.  A motorized lens is nice, because it does not require manually turning the lens by hand to change the image, which is especially important when ceiling mounting a projector.  Because of the excellent zoom range, I was able to move the projector closer to the screen than ever before, which was welcome with my forward of seating application.  This model also features Sony's Anamorphic Zoom Mode for use with an external anamorphic lens.    


I removed my current table mounted Marantz VP-15S1 projector and in its place went the Sony VPL-VW85.  The distance from the projector lens to screen measured about 13.5 feet with a 20 foot viewing distance from a Dalite,133” HDTV, Dalite Cinema Contour screen with High Power 2.8 gain material.  On hand for the review was both the OPPO BDP-83 and Sony BDP-S1000ES Blu-ray players, so I connected both to the Sony VPL-VW85 with a 35ft, M1000 HDTV HDMI Monster Cable.  For part of the review the video connections were made through a Denon AVP-A1HDC1 A/V processor for video switching, and then also directly to the projector.  

Each time Monster Cable M1000 HDTV HDMI cables were used for video connections, Cardas Audio Golden Reference speaker and interconnect cables, and Monster Cable 600sw and Monoprice subwoofer cables.  All the cables worked perfectly and had no problems.  Associated equipment used for the review was the Sunfire TGA 7400 amplifier, Definitive Technology BP7000SC, Definitive Technology C/L/R 3000, Definitive Technology BPX speakers, Definitive Technology SuperCube Trinity Signature Powered Subwoofers and Buttkicker LFE Kit..  All are outstanding, reference quality products.  I then used the Digital Video Essentials: HD Basics Blu-ray disc to calibrate the projector and was ready to start my evaluation.


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