Sony VPL-VW890ES Projector Review Page 2

Such bright HDR picture elements seriously leap off even a neutral gain screen, especially if you have Dynamic HDR Enhancer activated, which proves its worth here every bit as emphatically (even more so, actually) as on Sony's step-down models.

Some AV fans would have preferred Sony to go with a more traditional dynamic tone mapping system, a la JVC. But I have a lot of time for the Dynamic HDR Enhancer approach. This re-engineering of source images to get maximum HDR is done carefully and with an excellent appreciation for balance and colour naturalism.

Given how much it apparently costs, it's good to find the VW890ES's ARC-F lens apparently contributing to a noticeable uptick in detail and general sharpness. With Reality Creation engaged, this projector sniffs out the pixel finery in 1917's walk across no man's land (Chapter 5) better than any domestic model I've auditioned. This sharpness is delivered (in most presets, anyway) without explicit noise exaggeration, stressed edges or artificial feel. It just looks like you're getting the most bigscreen impact you could from the PJ's native 4,096 x 2,160 pixel count. And as local contrast can impact sharpness, the effectiveness of the Dynamic HDR Enhancer is likely playing some part in the VW890ES's phenomenal detail levels.


For £25,000 you might have expected a third HDMI input...

With Sony's class-leading True Cinema motion processing on hand, this image clarity remains during action scenes and camera pans.

Detail levels are outstanding in dark scenes, too; there's no hint of black crush or low-contrast grey flatness. Sony's Dual Contrast system works elegantly enough to avoid obvious brightness instability in dark scenes, and the projector's flexibility amiably lets you adjust the way HDR scenes look to suit pretty much any taste. There are now separate HDR and SDR settings if you fancy (as you should) going the professional calibration route.

Black Level Balancing Act
While detail reproduction in dark scenes is excellent, black levels are only great rather than outstanding, and certainly not in the same league as those you get with JVC's D-ILA models. But before you all stampede to buy a JVC beamer instead, don't sweep aside the VW890ES's high local brightness and mindblowing sharpness.

When playing HDR content, this projector pumps out quite a bit of warm air, particularly if you're using Cinema Film 1 mode (my preferred option) or the Bright Cinema preset (which I found can clip quite a bit of detail from the brightest areas of HDR images). Yet good use is made of the large bodywork (it's more than half-a metre wide) to dissipate this heat quietly.

And while I'm pointing out flaws, the VW890ES's input lag in Game mode only measures down to 52.3ms. This is high enough to impact gaming performance, and an increase over the 35.9ms recorded from the VW790ES. Counting the cost

The obvious flaw of this range-topping projector is the same one that impacted its VW870ES predecessor, and that's the existence of another model in the Sony range that's far more affordable, and not far off in performance terms. Yes, this is clearly a better performer overall than the VW790ES, but the latter is still so good that I'm not sure many mere mortals will feel compelled to set their sights £13,000 higher.

The VW890ES isn't made for mere mortals, though. It's a cost-no-object consideration that lets rip with HDR like no other. To anyone who buys one, feel free to invite me round. I'll even bring some snacks.

HCC Verdict

Sony VPL-VW890ES

Price: £25,000

We say: A fantastic projector that sells the 4K HDR dream like nothing else in its class – but the price premium over Sony's VW790ES is steep.

Overall: 4.5/5


3D: Yes. Active shutter 4K: Yes. 4,096 x 2,160 resolution HDR: Yes. HDR10; HLG CONNECTIONS: 2 x HDMI inputs; 5V USB; Ethernet service port; 2 x 12V triggers; RS232 port; IR input BRIGHTNESS (CLAIMED): 2,200 Lumens CONTRAST (claimed): 'Infinity:1' ZOOM: 2.2x DIMENSIONS: 560(w) x 223(h) x 496(d)mm WEIGHT: 22kg

FEATURES: SXRD projector with laser light source; X1 for Projector processing; 20,000-hour claimed laser lamp life; 24dB claimed fan noise; picture presets and aspect ratio memory; 1.35:1-2.9:1 throw ratio; True Cinema motion processing; Dual Contrast control; Dynamic HDR Enhancer; 18-element all-glass ARC-F lens; digital focus compensation; powered zoom, focus and lens shift (+/- 80% vertical, +/- 31% horizontal); optional short-throw lens