The Sony VPL-VW1025ES which retails for $40,000 is a 4K SXRD laser home theater projector. It is the successor of the highly-rated VW995ES ($35,000 SRP) we reviewed a few years ago. Art loved the performance of the VW995ES so much that he presented it with several awards. After a successful run, Sony has finally introduced the VW1025ES as a replacement model.
The VW1025ES's performance is further enhanced over its predecessor by the incorporation of Sony’s powerful X1 Processor which has been optimized for projector applications.
Physically the VW1025ES is very similar to the VW915ES ($20,000 SRP) that I reviewed several months ago. It utilizes the same SXRD imager, X1 video processor, and laser light source. The main difference is the unit’s optics.
The VW1025ES, like the older VW995ES, uses an ARC-F lens. This type of ultra-high-quality multi-element all-glass lens assembly is also utilized on the VW5000ES ($60,000 SRP) and the flagship GTZ380 ($80,000 SRP minus the ARC-F Lens) home theater projectors.
4,096 x 2,160
Brightness (Manufacturer Claim)
Zoom Lens Ratio
Like all Sony 4K HDR home theater projectors, the VW1025ES uses three SXRD panels to deliver true 4K resolution (4096 x 2160). The unit’s ultra-high quality lens assembly ensures that every ounce of detail reaches the screen.
If you take a quick glance at the spec sheet of the older VW995ES and compare it to the new VW1025ES, it might be easy to overlook that seemingly small upgrade. With the exception of the flagship VW5000ES and the ultra-short throw VZ1000ES, all of Sony’s traditional home theater projectors now feature Sony’s latest video processor – the X1 Processor for Projectors.
It’s like buying a base Porsche 911 versus a fully loaded Turbo model. The base car will give you most of Porsche’s famous driving experience, but the top-of-the-line model is just faster and adds additional luxury and refinement.
While the VW325ES is Sony’s base 4K SXRD home theater projector model, stepping all the way up to the VW1025ES adds a Z-Phosphor Laser Light source with a Dynamic Iris which is paired with an ARC-F Lens assembly.
The ARC-F lens assembly is Sony's finest optics but commands a high premium and is the main reason why the VW1025ES ($40,000 SRP) retails for double the price of the VW995ES ($20,000).
Sony was the first company to introduce a native 4K home theater projector and they still have the most comprehensive model assortment. Sony has seven 4K HDR home theater projectors in their lineup, starting with the VW1025ES ($5,500) and moving up to the flagship GTZ380 which is $80,000 (minus the ARC-F Lens).
There are five laser-based 4K HDR models in the lineup, including the VW1025ES ($40,000 SRP) and two 4K HDR home theater lamp-based projectors, the VW715ES ($10,000 SRP) and the newly announced VW325ES ($5500 SRP).
Below is a summary of the Sony 4K SXRD Laser projector lineup.
Dynamic HDR Enhancer
$80,000 (w/o lens)
Ultra Short Throw
Standard 4K Lens
Standard 4K Lens
Standard 4K Lens
The VW1025ES has a rated brightness of 2,200 ANSI lumens and the unit’s Z-Phospher laser light source has a rated life of 20,000 hours. While 2,200 lumens may not seem like a lot compared to many of its DLP-based competitors, the VW1025ES, like most Sony 4K Home Theater projectors, can deliver most of its rated brightness, even in its most accurate picture mode. By comparison, most DLP projectors can barely deliver half of their specified brightness in their Movie and Cinema modes.
Considering the older VW995ES and the new VW1025ES use many of the same quality components, have the same specs, and have very similar measurements when tested, you may be surprised that the actual viewing experience is very different. While both projectors’ brightness, contrast, and color gamut are nearly identical, the VW1025ES delivered a noticeably better picture than the unit it replaces.
As mentioned earlier, the most significant VW1025ES upgrade is new video processing powered by a version of Sony’s X1 Processor that has been optimized specifically for projector applications. This Processor is what gives the projector the ability to do frame-by-frame HDR tone mapping. The VW1025ES supports both the HDR10 standard as well as HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma).
Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to do side-by-side comparisons between multiple Sony X1 processor-equipped projectors versus their counterparts, and every time the difference was dramatic. Projector Reviews gave the VW995ES multiple awards due to its stellar picture quality. While I didn’t have to opportunity to compare the VW995ES and VW1025ES directly, based on my previous experiences, I am confident the improvement provided by the X1 Processor would be just as noticeable.
What separates a good chef from a great chef is their recipe. You can give two chefs the same ingredients and end up with two different results – one chef might serve you a delicious meatloaf while the other chef disappoints you with soggy meatballs.
For the Sony VW1025ES, the quality components are the ingredients and the X1 Processor is the excellent recipe that extracts their maximum performance for an optimal viewing experience.
Bundle with a Sony ARC-F Lens (optional Short throw version available)