Home Cinema is a serious business thanks to the ever escalating march of technology and the rise of Blu-ray players and HD movies. With the opportunity to watch films in widescreen at near cinematic quality, aficionados are willing to spend the money to approximate the perfection they’re seeking. The question is, will you be willing to meet the Sony Bravia VPL-VW85′s £5,000+ price tag to make your movie dreams come true?
It’s hard at first glance to see how the VW85 differs from its predecessor, the VW80. Visually the models are indistinguishable, with the same glossy midnight black sheen, generous curves, identical dimensions (470 x 179.2 x 482.4mm) and both weigh a meaty 12kg. Both machines also use the ARC-F (All Range Crisp Focus) lens set at 800 ANSI Lumen with 1.6x motorized zoom, 65 percent vertical and 25 percent horizontal lens shift adjustment.
Although they both also use Sony’s BRAVIA ENGINE 2 which has eight stages of image enhancement, the difference starts to become apparent when you look at the contrast ratios. Like the more entry level HW15, the VW80′s ratio is set at 60,000:1 while the VW85 claims to have doubled that to 120,000:1 using the new “Advanced Iris 3 technology” to improve detail, clarity and colour.
Sony’s High Frame Technology triple SXRD (Silicon X-tal Reflective Display) panels are the power behind the sharpness and colour authentication that results. The VW85 also showcases an Anamorphic Zoom function which can be used with an optional anamorphic lens to create a 2.35:1 CinemaScope effect.
Set-up is remarkably easy. Once you plug in, say, a Blu-ray player via either of the two available HDMI ports, the VW85′s remote automatically takes over the control of the player while allowing you to fine-tune focus settings, picture mode (there are five settings including a custom User mode) and levels for black, colour, sharpness and contrast. There are no fewer than six Gamma settings, but if you want to adjust the Gamma curve you’ll have to use the supplied Image Director software via an attached PC, rather than operating it within the projector itself.
In addition, there is an MPEG noise reduction system and a Real Colour Processing tab that will let you zero in on specific colours in the frame and adjust the hue (but only if you have extreme amounts of time and patience). If you’re watching high-energy films or computer games, the VW85 also incorporates Motion Enhancement which inserts extra frames using Double Speed Processing to reduce the juddering effect in fast camera action, and you can use any of the three Film Projection settings to emulate the ‘flicker’ effect of a real cinema.
The latter could equally be seen as irritating, but we were astounded at the smoothness, precise detail and stand-out colours and contrasts when viewing a full-on action film like the latest Star Trek movie while repositioning it into full widescreen mode.
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