Sony VPL-VW285ES 4K HT Projector - Hardware Tour

October 27, 2017

/ By Art Feierman

Sony VPL-VW285ES Projector - Hardware Tour: Overview, Lens, Control Panel, Inputs

VW285ES Hardware Overview

The Sony VW285ES has clean lines - almost minimalistic. The 2.06:1 zoom is centered and recessed, and fully motorized. There’s an infra-red sensor and down below two screw thread adjustable front feet.

This Sony’s body is finished in a coarse to the touch, dark gray finish, the front is shiny black and smooth.

And note that it is no portable HT projector – it weighs in at 31 lbs.

The only thing on top are the indicator lights, part of the lamp door cover, and the Sony logo.

vw285es top view
Top down view (obviously)

If you are facing the front of the projector, the side to your right has a well hidden control panel. On the left, running from back to front, is a recessed input panel.

Let’s get into the details:

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VW285ES Lens Information


It is a 2.06:1 motorized zoom lens providing about maximum zoom range found on today's home theater projectors. Add to that a whole lot of vertical and horizontal lens shift, since zoom, focus, and lens shift are motorized, there are no visible controls.

The 285ES gets an upgraded, lens, in that it’s essentially the same lens as the old VW365ES and VW675ES had, but the lens has been improved optically. How much? Probably not huge, but every optical improvement is a plus.

For a 100 inch, 16:9 screen, the Sony can be placed (measured from the front of the lens) anywhere from 9 feet 7 inches to as far back as 19 feet 7 inches from the screen.

With that same sized screen the lens shift provides +80% - 85% lens shift, allowing the projector to be mounted roughly 15 inches above the top, or below the bottom of the screen surface.  There's actually a little extra (2.5 inches) when mounting above, if the projector is inverted.  There's also +/- 31% of horizontal lens shift.  Of course, the more horizontal shift used, the less vertical is available, and vice versa.

That’s a truly impressive amount of lens shift. And therefore a truly impressive amount of placement flexibility. Again, about as good as it gets.

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VW285ES Control Panel

VW285ES input panel
Side view of VW285ES showing the input panel

Designed to be almost invisible, the control panel is a series of buttons in a horizontal row starting near the front of the projector’s side.

The first small button is power (once for on, twice to power down). Next comes the Input button. Pressing it repeatedly steps it through each active source it sees, which is basically HDMI.

Next is the Menu button, followed by Sony’s micro joy stick, which works extremely well for navigating. Pressing it straight in, acts as Enter.

Last is the Lens button which then allows you to adjust the lens focus, zoom, and shift using the micro-joy stick.   It works surprisingly well, if limited to the basic controls needed, no extras for convenience.

There are just two indicator lamps. They will flash in different combinations when indicating any issues. I fortunately haven’t encountered any warnings (or problems) in the 150-ish hours I’ve invested viewing with this Sony.

VPL-VW285ES Inputs and Connectors

Like most of the other more expensive Sonys, the VW285ES his pretty minimalistic in that it relies almost exclusively on its two HDMI inputs. For many, that means relying on an AV receiver, or a properly 4K switching system. There’s nothing, of course wrong with that. I rely on my Anthem receiver to switch for whatever projectors I’m reviewing.

Sony VPL-VW285ES Inputs and Connectors

From the back to the front:

Closest to the rear is the LAN RJ45 connector for networking. That’s followed by a USB, then the pair of HDMI inputs. They support HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 copy protection. The HDMI ports handle up to 13.5 ghz, per Sony. That’s not quite as wonderful as the full 18 ghz HDMI on some projectors including Sony’s high end 4K models, but it should be good enough for just about everyone.

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These HDMI inputs support 4K HDR BT.2020 content up to 60fps and 8, 10, or 12 bit data. The difference lies with what is called the sub-sampling. There, (and only at 60fps), having 13.5 ghz vs 18 ghz make any difference, and that difference, will be slight, at the very most, and that only if you can somewhere find any 60fps content that has higher than 4:2:0 sampling which this Sony can handle. The Sony does 4:2:0 at 60fps at 8, 10, or 12 bit. By comparison, a full 18 ghz, allows 4:4:4 at 8 bit, 4:2:2 at 10 bit, and the same 4:2:2 at 12 bit. Think of it this way, you would definitely much rather have 4:2:0 at 10 or 12 bit, than 4:4:4 at 8 bit.

I haven’t heard of any streaming that gets close to 60 fps, 10 or 12 bit with 4:4:4, or even 4:2:2, and of course Blu-ray UHD discs aren’t 60 ghz, so the Sony supports the full 4:4:4 at 24, or 30 fps, if only you could find a disc that has any 4:4:4.

Bottom line on the HDMI: Don’t worry about it! This Sony’s 13.5 basically handles everything I’m aware of that exists today, and probably anything around for the next 5 years. And even if someone does produce some of that content, the way things work, the source will “talk” with the projector, and send 4:2:0 at 60fps, because it’s all about devices feeding displays the best signal the display can handle, rather than there being a failure to communicate, and no picture.

Sony didn’t even bother to put 18 ghz on their $8K and $15K 4K projectors – only those at $24,999 and up.  I don't have a problem with that, as it's highly unlikely that any 60fps content will come along where that difference in sub-sampling will be visible at all.

Enough about HDMI and technical aspects of it. Next as we move toward the front is an RS-232 serial port for “old school” command and control of the projector over a serial connection. That’s followed by a jack allowing you to hard wire the remote control, in case you have a setup where the remote is too far away (or rear screen setup). With an optional cable, you can put that remote far away, on the other side of walls, etc.

All that’s left are the two 12 volt triggers, which could be used with compatible devices, such as properly equipped motorized screens, perhaps some motorized shades, etc.

That’s it, except of course there’s the usual power receptacle, which is found on the back of the projector, down low, near the other side.

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