Sony VPL-HW30ES Home Theatre Projector review: Sony VPL-HW30ES Home Cinema Projector

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The Good Good overall performance. Good 3D effect. Reasonable value for money. Reasonably low power consumption.

The Bad Inconsistent 3D crosstalk. 3D glasses have to be recharged from time to time. No cable included for 3D sync transmitter.

The Bottom Line The Sony VPL-HW30ES is a fine all round home theatre projector, with good quality 3D, but you'll need to do a bit more wiring than normal.

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7.8 Overall

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Sony uses its SXRD panels in the VPL-HW30ES. These used to be confined to its higher-cost projectors, with the lower-cost ones scoring LCD. SXRD stands for Silicon X-tal Reflective Display, which is to say that it is Sony's version of LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon), a solid-state reflective technology.

There are three full HD panels used, one for each primary colour. Combined with the projector's dynamic processing, they offer a claimed 70,000:1 contrast ratio.

The input selection is cut down to two HDMI, component and VGA. The other old analog standards have been shed. There is also an RS-232C socket for system integration, and a socket for an external IR receiver, but no trigger to control other gear.

The lens offers a reasonably flexible 1.6:1 zoom range, plus manually operated horizontal and vertical lens shift, so installation location isn't too constrained.

You get most of the necessary goodies with the projector for 3D: two sets of 3D glasses and an external 3D transmitter. There is a matching socket on the projector for this last, but you will need standard Ethernet cable to connect the two, a longish one if you're putting the transmitter at the front of the room. We tried putting the transmitter on the projector, but in our test labs it was not able to reflect sufficient signal back from the projection screen to work, so it had to go at the front.

The glasses use, unfortunately, rechargeable batteries. They charge from USB sockets using supplied cables. This is inevitably less convenient than those that use disposable button cells, but at least Sony tosses in a USB charger, so you don't need to leave them hanging out of your computer's USB sockets.

2D performance

As a rule, the 2D performance of this projector is very good indeed. But only after a bit of intervention.

By default, the projector fired up in "Cinema 1" picture mode. This was a particularly unpleasant one, especially compared to "Standard" (which wasn't the default). The reason soon became apparent: "Cinema 1" has its "Sharpness" control turned up to 70 on a scale of 100. This produced nasty ringing on the hard edges of content. Usually, "Cinema" picture settings on projectors are a bit too mellow and soft. This one was too harsh, thanks to that setting. Wind it down to about 20, and things are a lot better.

The projector also fired up with its lamp on high output (adjust this under "Cinema Black Pro") and its cooling fans on the higher setting, so it was a bit on the noisy side. Turning the lamp to "Low" still allowed plenty of brightness in our darkened office, and reduced the fan noise. Switching the fan also to low made the projector very nearly silent.

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