Sony’s new projector is capable of delivering dazzling images, though it lacks some cutting-edge features and components expected at this price point. Three years ago, Sony introduced the VPL-VW885ES, a 4K LCOS projector with a laser light engine. I found the 885ES to be capable of throwing high-quality images when I reviewed it, but in the end wasn’t fully enamored with the new projector. Basically, I felt it had obvious shortcomings that were hard to ignore at the premium $25,000 price. And while the company issued a firmware update in 2019 that directly addressed some points I had complained about in my review, the 885ES is now being replaced in Sony’s projector lineup with the VPL-VW915ES, a model that builds on the successful aspects of the previous design while coming in at a lower $20,000 price point.
Same Look, New Thrills
It didn’t take very long to figure out that the 915ES is nearly identical in every way to the 885ES from a hardware perspective. The new projector’s chassis, dual blue laser light engine, native 4K SXRD (LCOS) panels, remote control, and onscreen menus are essentially identical to that previous model. At first, I had trouble trying to figure out exactly what was different. During a talk with a Sony rep, I learned that the main difference from the 885ES is an update to the projector’s X1 video chip. The 915ES features a revised version called X1 for Projectors that provides a higher level of processing granularity—something I’ll touch on later in this review.
Sony’s new VPL-VW915ES may represent only a slight update of the company’s recently upgraded (via a free firmware update) VPL-VW885ES, but it’s a sizable improvement over the original version of the 885ES that I reviewed three years ago. The 915ES also showed significant improvement in color uniformity and contouring, two artifacts that I found particularly distracting on previous Sony projectors I’ve tested. This new laser-based 4K model’s out-of-box color accuracy and contrast performance contribute to an image that will no doubt dazzle even the most discerning videophile. While there is room for further improvement when it comes to HDR playback, that’s something I can also say that about the majority of projectors on the market. The Sony 915ES ranks among the top projectors you can buy today and easily earns its Top Pick rating.