Sony has premiered a long-awaited sequel to its most affordable native 4K projector. The Sony VPL-VW290ES (known as the Sony VPL-VW325ES in the US) is finally walking the red carpet and hope is for another What Hi-Fi? Award-winning blockbuster.
The glitz and glam of the update, compared to the hugely successful Sony VPL-VW270ES, is the addition of Sony's X1 for Projectors processor, which is designed to bring a boost to HDR, picture detail and motion processing.
The X1 for Projector brings the frame-by-frame analysis, developed for Sony's X1-powered Bravia TVs, to the big screen. That means access to dynamic HDR control even though there's no built-in support for Dolby Vision or HDR10+. Instead, Sony's own Dynamic HDR Enhancer can optimise the picture on-the-fly.
There's also an updated Super Resolution Reality Creation process that leverages pixel-level analysis for image upscaling, and both texture and detail enhancement. If it works as well as implemented on the 2020-launched Sony VPL-VW590ES, then results should be very impressive indeed.
The Sony VPL-VW290ES retains the same brightness specs and SXRD projector panel technology as its predecessor. It can offer up to 1500 lumens from its bulb light source and will retail at a slightly more expensive £5499 ($5499 / AU$8999 / €5499) when it arrives in May in a choice of black or white.
If you're after something even more serious, Sony has also updated its near-flagship 800-series SXRD machine. The Sony VPL-VW890ES is the name to look out for (VPL-VW1025ES in the States) for those with more cinematic aspirations and deeper pockets. It benefits from the same X1 processor addition but the £24,999 ($39,999 / AU$38,999) price brings access to a laser light source and the all-glass ARC-F lens.
The ARC-F is an 18-element, 15-group, large diameter lens designed for higher resolving power and a better and more consistent control of focus and colour across the whole area of your screen. The prime benefits of the Z-Phosphor laser are its fast operation and warm-up times, and the steady performance across its 20,000-hour lifespan. It operates at 2200 lumens.
Both projectors will now allow for separate picture settings to be applied for SDR and HDR content. You'll also be able to choose between HDR Reference and HDR10 picture presets as your prime preference when the machine is set to HDR Auto.
The Sony VPL-VW890ES will launch at the same time as the Sony VPL-VW290ES but in black only. We look forward to getting them into the lab.
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