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Sony VW325ES 4K HDR home theater projector VPL-VW325ES review

Sony VW325ES 4K HDR home theater projector VPL-VW325ES review
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What is the Sony VPL-VW325ES contrast ration and throw distance? Is that better than Epson 5040? The HDR and color on the 325ES appears richer and brighter than the 5040 thanks to the SXRD panels and not needing a color filter which the 5040 uses on some picture presets to improve color accuracy but at the expense of brightness. The native 4K resolution makes UHD content very sharp and crispy, noticeably sharper than the pixel shifting the 5040 uses. Discover more in Sony VW325ES 4K HDR home theater projector VPL-VW325ES review.

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In the box

  • Remote Control (RM-PJ28)
  • Size AA (R6) manganese batteries (2)
  • AC Power Cord (1)
  • Lens Cap (1)
  • Operating Instructions (CD-ROM)
  • Quick Reference Manual (1)
  • Safety Regulations (1)

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • X1 processor with 3 SXRD imagers
  • Smooth on-screen response for gaming and sports
  • Stunning contrast ratio
  • Aspherical lens enhances contrast and clarity
  • 4K upscaling with Reality Creation
  • Effective HDR
  • Great out of box color
  • Compatible with IMAX Enhanced
  • Relatively easy to install and align the picture
  • Stunning image
  • Good 3D

Cons

  • Long throw distance
  • Lacks the color of lasers
  • Relatively low brightness may be insufficient for some large screens or high ambient light viewing
  • No dynamic iris to deepen black levels
  • No lens memories for motorized lens to accommodate CIH setups

Specs

  • 4K-compatible: yes
  • 3D-compatible: No
  • Resolution: 4,096×2,160 pixels
  • HDR-compatible: Yes
  • Lumens spec: 1,500
  • Zoom: Motorized (x2.06)
  • Lens shift: Motorized

Price

The VPL-VW325ES is Sony’s new replacement for the VPL-VW295ES, which in turn replaced the VPL-VW285ES back in October 2018 as the company’s least expensive native 4K SXRD projector. After holding both prior models to $4,999, Sony has raised the price of the VW325ES to $5,499.

Compare Sony VW325ES 4K HDR home theater projector VPL-VW325ES

VPL-VW325ESVPL-VW715ESVPL-VW915ES
Projection TechnologySXRD Lamp Light SourceSXRD Lamp Light SourceSXRD Laser Light Source
ResolutionFull 4K (4096 x 2160)Full 4K (4096 x 2160)Full 4K (4096 x 2160)
High Dynamic Range (HDR)YesYesYes
Brightness1,500 lumens1,800 lumens2,000 lumens
Dynamic ContrastN/A350,000:1Infinite Dynamic Contrast
Reality CreationYes (for 4K)Yes (for 4K)Yes (for 4K)
Picture PositionN/AYesYes
LensStandard 4K LensStandard 4K LensStandard 4K Lens
Recommended Lamp Cycle6,000 hours6,000 hours20,000 hours
IMAX ENHANCED
X1 processor for projector
Dynamic HDR Enhancer

Sony VW325ES 4K HDR home theater projector VPL-VW325ES review

Design

At 31 pounds with an 8.1 x 19.50 x 18.25-inch case, it is compact and stylish and good for table top or ceiling setup.

Connector

The 325ES has a limited suite of connections but lots of control options. No legacy connections either, just HDMI. There is a USB connection, but it’s only capable of 0.5 amps, which won’t power most streaming sticks.

  • HDMI inputs: 2
  • PC input: No
  • USB port: 1 (0.5A power)
  • Audio input and output: No
  • Digital audio output: No
  • Internet: LAN (for control)
  • 12v trigger: Yes
  • RS-232 remote port: Yes
  • Remote: Backlit

Lens

It has a 14-element lens with glass throughout except for the outer element, which is formed from acrylic material to allow for the benefits of an aspherical design without the enormous cost associated with shaping an aspherical glass element. Aspherical lenses are understood to provide better sharpness out at the edges

Display Throw distance

The projector throws a 100-inch 16:9 image with the lens approximately 10.75 to 22 feet from the screen. 

Brightness

The 1,500 ANSI lumen brightness rating also remains unchanged. measuring in at 1,233 ANSI lumens in its brightest mode despite my best efforts to push it.

Resolution

The 325ES is a “true” 4K projector, in the digital cinema sense. It sports a resolution of 4,096×2,160, an extra 552,960 pixels over those wimpy Ultra HD projectors and their 3,840×2,160 resolution. However, unless you send the projector 4,096×2,160, it’s only using the 3,840×2,160 portion of the chip, with black bars on either side. However, the black level is so good you can’t really notice these bars unless you’re really looking for them.

Dynamic HDR Enhancer

This is a dynamic frame-by-frame enhancement to Sony’s HDR tone-mapping scheme, as we’ve now seen in some other projectors, including JVC’s native 4K models and LG’s UST and long-throw laser projectors. One benefit of dynamic tone-mapping is that it should—at least theoretically—eliminate the need to manually adjust the projector’s tone-map to adapt for the varying peak and average brightness of different programs. 

Contrast ratio

Contrast ratio, of course, is this projector’s strength. In the same mode that puts out 126.2 nits, the black level is 0.014 for a contrast ratio of 9,014:1. Across its various modes, it averages 8,327:1. For comparison, the next closest projector in terms of contrast ratio is the Epson, which averaged 5,203:1. The average for all the projectors we’ve reviewed in the last year, not including the Sony and Epson, is 660:1. Though, admittedly, they are all significantly cheaper than the 325ES.

Adjustment

You can move the image vertically +85% and -80%, and horizontally +/-31%. This means you can fit the 325ES in a wide variety of setups, including ceiling mount, shelf behind your sofa, and more. The 2x zoom range means you can fill a 2.35:1 screen for movie nights, then zoom down and just fill the center 16×9 portion for TV watching. 

Sony VW325ES 4K HDR home theater projector VPL-VW325ES Performance review

The picture quality produced by the Sony VPL-VW325ES is impressive in its clarity, color, and realism. It uses an SXRD light source with an aspherical lens to produce a resolution even sharper than most true 4K projectors, and the picture stays sharp even when it’s in motion thanks to the Motionflow technology.

The Gaming Mode on the VPL-VW325ES drops the input lag as low as 27ms. That’s low enough the majority of players won’t notice any lag while they’re playing, even if you’re playing fast-paced online games. It also supports 4K gaming from the latest generation consoles, giving you the same depth and detail for games that you’ll get for movies, so you can really get immersed in the experience.

Sony VW325ES 4K HDR home theater projector VPL-VW325ES Customer review

MORE PIXELS, MORE PROCESSING, MORE $’S

ACTUALLY, I would give this an “overall” rating of 4.5 stars because it is more expensive than most all the other pixel shifting 4k projectors out there. Because when you are in the market for 4k and SO many projectors manufacturers say “4k” and are much cheaper, one begins to believe that this must be a high price point to pay. But the others are frankly deceiving the buyer. They are not projecting a 4k image natively but playing with a 1080 HD image — they are using 2 megapixel chips and shifting them to appear like 4k.

But the Sony 325 is NOT pixel shifting. It is true 4k. Every single pixel of your 8 megapixel (4k) image is thrown to your screen at the same moment without the micro lag of pixel shifting and slight refined detail that removes. It does not shift a mirror thousands of times a second to make the same scene appear 4k. Thus the extra $$$ in the Sony. But it still may come as a sticker shock to the undiscerning. Picture quality in a light controlled room is just stunning.

Colors, clarity and detail are more amazing than I expected. I replaced a Panasonic PT-AE7000U which was a great 1080p projector in its day. It not only had lens memory but it AUTOMATICALLY adjusted to 2.35 aspect ration from 16:9 when the input signal was detected. I am kind of disappointed that the Sony 325 does not auto adjust nor does it even have a memory for keeping the adjustments you make. And yet it is motorized!

A simple software addition would have accomplished this, but Sony left it out to separate this model from it’s 10k cousin. But that said, it’s 10k cousin has the same processor and this unit produces a beautiful picture! And even without memory, switching between widescreen modes is not really that difficult (3 or 4 quick button pushes and you are there –first world problems!). Set up is easy out of the box. Picture looked fantastic. But then if one wants, sub-screen focusing can be calibrated in small quadrants. So if your edges seem soft or your screen surface is not perfect, you can go in a re-focus just those areas to get your image perfect from side to side, top to bottom. Much more than just a universal screen focus adjustment. But give yourself about :45 min to accomplish this. I have attached a couple of photos by my iPhone. Mind you it is sooo hard to justify an image taken by a phone. Just know in real life, the clarity and colorimetry of these photos is 20x better. And finally, lets talk “lumens” of brightness. You will find pixel shifting projectors saying 2000 lumens, or 3500 lumens. And the Sony 325 is only 1500 lumens and costs so much more?

From what I understand and have been told, Sony are purists. and perhaps honest. They measure the brightness of lumens with a meter back by the lens…but pointed to the screen! It measures the reflective brightness that your eyes would see! The other manufactures, often just aim the meter at the bulb from the screen and look directly at the lens. Have you ever stood in front of a projector and stared into it…its blinding.

Reflected light is much more an accurate reading. Not sure how accurate all of that is, but if it is true, then no wonder my screen looks way brighter than my Panasonic ever did even though it had a higher lumen rating that the Sony 325 does. That is my take on it. If you get it…enjoy it!

By Kevlarb at Best Buy

Alternate of Sony VW325ES 4K HDR home theater projector VPL-VW325ES

JVC DLA-NX7

The NX7’s high contrast ratio combined with 4K resolution and JVC’s industry-leading best black levels results in exceptional picture quality.

The JVC DLA-NX7 is an HDR home theater projector that can deliver true 4K resolution (4096 x 2160) and its high native contrast, combined with 4K resolution, results in a great amount of performance at a reasonable price. Since this is a native 4K unit, unlike a 2K pixel shifting projector, it can faithfully reproduce all 8.8 million pixels found in 4K content.

JVC claims the NX7 can produce 1,900 lumens with a high contrast ratio of 800,000:1. It can also deliver rich, vibrant colors. JVC also claims that with the Cinema Filter engaged, the NX-7 can reproduce to 100% of the DCI-P3 color space.

Motorized Lens With Memories – The NX7 has motorized horizontal/vertical lens shift and zoom. Lens memories allow the ability to save different motorized lens settings, use one for HDTV and one for widescreen movies. This is a useful feature for someone who opts for a 2.35:1 screen because they want to take advantage of the entire screen area when watching a widescreen movie.

Native 4K D-ILA LCoS Panels – This projector uses JVC’s new 3rd generation 0.69-inch native 4K D-ILA devices. These new panels offer a noticeable native contrast improvement over the previous generation 4K panels and further enhance black level performance by using a dynamic iris.

Frame Adapt HDR with Theater Optimizer – The Theater Optimizer feature combines information provided by the user with the projector’s current status information to provide a more accurate baseline for applying Dynamic Tone Mapping. Theater Optimizer and Frame Adapt HDR result in great-looking HDR10 content while eliminating the hassle of constantly making manual Brightness and Contrast adjustments from bright to dark scenes or from movie to movie.

Multi-Element All-Glass Lens Assembly – The DLA-NX7 is equipped with a 65 mm diameter lens, which adopts an all-glass design with 17 elements in 15 groups to deliver a high-resolution image with a sharp focus across the entire screen.

Compared to the competition, I have yet to find a single chip consumer 4K DLP projector that could come anywhere close to the color fidelity, contrast, and black level of the DLA-NX7. Due to its Dynamic Tone Mapping capabilities, the HDR picture quality is outstanding as well. If you are looking for a projector at this price point, the NX7 so be at the top of your list.

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