The VW85’s easy to read onscreen menus, meanwhile, contain a pretty good level of flexibility. Particularly important to cinephiles will be its Real Colour Processor, which allows you to adjust the saturation and hue of the six main colour elements, as well as allowing you to fine tune the position and range of each colour within a ‘circle’ containing the whole available colour spectrum. The RCP system handily drops all the colour elements out of the picture bar the one you’re working on at a particular time.
Yet oddly, I still wanted to fine-tune things a touch more – perhaps having the facility to tweak the brightness of each colour, say. Then again, my minor frustration during colour calibration could have been a result of me not ever feeling totally in tune with the unusual RCP interface.
The VW85, as with most projectors, lets you switch the lamp output between high and low levels, and delivers a potential further contrast boost courtesy of Advanced Iris 3: Sony’s latest auto iris system, which comes with two different ‘automatic’ levels plus a much-appreciated manual adjustment that lets you position the iris in a fixed position of your liking.
Other stuff worth a passing mention includes an MPEG NR system that goes so far as to let you fine tune and balance the separate mosquito NR and block NR components, and six different Gamma options (for me, Gamma 3 appeared to produce the most ‘movie-like’ results).
With a glamorous elliptical design and glossy, deep black finish (with glittery highlights), the VW85 cuts a surprisingly attractive figure considering that it’s actually quite large by domestic projector standards. It’s tidily connected, too, with the inevitable two HDMIs joined by a couple of 12V trigger outputs, a composite video input, an S-Video input, a D-Sub PC port, and an RS 232 remote control port.
If there are any disappointments on the VW85’s spec sheet, they’d be that it only uses Bravia Engine 2 processing rather than the BE3 system found now on Sony’s top-end TVs; and that it only claims a brightness of 800 Lumens versus the 1,000 Lumens of the HW10.
Regarding this latter figure, though, my personal experience is that slightly lower brightness levels can actually deliver a better projection picture, provided, of course, that other elements of a projector’s optics are up to the job and your room is as blacked out as possible.
In any case, one of the first thing that strikes me about the VW85’s pictures as I finally settle down to watch it in action is how bright its pictures look versus the HW15 and even last year’s VW80. The picture is really driven off the screen, bringing films and games to life with a strong, vibrant colour palette and some impressively pure whites and brights.
Even better, this attention-grabbing brightness doesn’t compromise the VW85’s black level response. In fact, the VW85’s black levels are not only markedly deeper than those of the VW80, they also seem to my eyes – with the lamp running on its low mode, at least – to get mighty close to the class-leading black levels of JVC’s D-ILA projectors.