The Art of Home Theater Projectors

Sony VPL-HW50ES Projector – Sony Gets It Right

Greetings Projector Fans – in a couple of month’s Sony’s shiny new VPL-HW50ES should hit the streets.  This VPL-HW50ES is a new projector that slides into the lineup above the HW30ES and way below the VPL-VW95ES.

Let’s position it first.  The price tag will be $3999 or was it $3995?  The HW50ES will come with a spare lamp for the money.  The VPL-HW50ES, will be available through local dealers, of course, but also be a select couple of authorized online resellers as well.

So, back to the title above.  I’m of course, not implying that Sony normally doesn’t get it right, after all, in this last year, their VPL-VW95ES – their flagship 2K projector, tied for our Best In Class award $3500-$10,000, while the VPL-VW1000ES at only $24999 is simply the best projector I’ve ever had the pleasure of viewing and reviewing, and really earned our Outstanding Product of the Year.”

So, what’s got me so enthused about the HW50ES?

It just seems like a major step up from the HW30ES for not too bad a price difference.  Better brightness, blacker blacks, 2K to 4K upscaling essentially.  (Only 2K panels, but as many of you know, there are real benefits even if, of course, if a true 4K projector can do better with either 2K or 4K content.  Still, their Reality engine does the trick.  At this point, I’d have to say, the best use of a detail enhancement engine I’ve seen in anything under $10K.   I got to see it side by side vs. an Epson 5010, and was really impressed.  Essentially you can punch the Epson 5010′s Super-Resolution to the top setting of 5, and you get similar detail enhancement overall, but at least the 5010 is not as clean when pushed that hard.  Of course I’m comparing against a last year’s model, still, it looked really good.

Also of note, out of the box picture quality looks very good, obviously very close to D65 – 6500K, the desired standard.  Apparently there’s improved color controls as well.

Did I mention that it looks like the HW30ES, which is to say, manual zoom and focus, so about the only thing missing is a lens memory type feature (found on the bigger Sony’s) for those wanting a 2.35:1 screen.  That said, as you would expect, the Sony can accept an anamorphic lens, no sled needed.  That will take the price up a bit should you want that widescreen, but not enough more to break the bank, in all likelihood.

Sony did a great job of demoing it.  I’ll try to write later (from memory) about how it looked compared to last year’s top of the line $12,000 JVC… Let’s just say dealers in the demo room were almost stunned that the HW50ES could in terms of picture quality, take on the JVC and not be embarrassed.  Not surprising.

So, folks that’s the short version.  The projector should be available in 2 months so looking forward to having it do battle with the classic projectors in the price range, as well as a couple thousands more that I expect it will beat.

This is a great addition to the Sony lineup.  As I was very aware and had seen several other projectors (Panasonic, Epson) before the  show, this was the one new projector at the show that dazzled me the most.

Hang in there, it’s going to be a blast – plenty of new home theater projectors this year to get exited about.  -art

News And Comments

  • Matthieu

    I’m so curious how it stands out against the Epson TW9010/TW6020, and if it’s worth to Upgrade from the TW9000 I have now.

    • Lisa Feierman

      Greetings Matthieu!

      It’s going to be interesting for sure. My prelim thoughts give the HW50ES the advantage, but we’ll know soon enough. If the Epson scheduled to arrive by Oct 1, is the 5020 or 6020, we’ll know quickly as I’ll be able to run them side by side…

      I haven’t put the sony side by side with the 5010 I have here. I’m about to write a “first look blog” in a minute, and save the side by side details for the full review – hopefully by Thursday, so hang in there! -art

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  • CaW

    The HW30ES was no slouch either. My understanding is that the HW30ES is going away and this a replacement model. Has that changed?

    • Lisa Feierman

      Hi CaW, To my understanding the HW30ES stays in the lineup as the “entry level” projector. (A hellofa entry level projector, btw.)

      The VPL-HW50ES has a tentative list price of $3999 with a spare lamp (and 2 pair of 3D glasses. If I’m correct, the HW30ES will get a price drop as it was officially almost that much when launched. -art

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  • Brandon

    I have been checking back on a daily basis to see the extended write up you said you would post :) Are you still going to write up more of your impressions?

    • Lisa Feierman

      working on a “first blog” as soon as I finish answering a bunch of questions from you folks… -art

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  • Ron Pharr

    I moved recently and am making my first attempt at a Home Theater. I have a media room at my new house so I can control the lighting. I am currently looking at the Epson 6020 and the Sony HW50ES. Really looking forward to your comparison. I was wondering if there is a show that I could go see various projectors displayed. I live just North of Houston TX. Thanks.

    • Lisa Feierman

      The next major show is CES which is trade only – though some people find a way. That will be in Las Vegas, early January. Finding places to see projectors has always been the challenge. Sometimes distributors run local events, but usually limited to the couple of projectors they carry, and a whole bunch of whatever else they are selling. Tough! good luck! -art

  • Demetrius

    Can you use the same ceiling mount on the HW50 that you would use on the HW30?

    • Lisa Feierman

      I would think so. I didn’t look, but considering it’s in the same box, I can’t think of a reason why they would change something like that. -a

  • http://None Dennis Korabiak

    Can you say when you will be updating your report with a comparison of other projectors to the Sony? I’m upgrading my setup and believe the Sony 50ES or the Sharp XV-Z30000 are my best options.

    for reference, I now have a Sharp XV-Z12000mkII using a 90 inch diagonal Da-Lite DaMat 1.0 screen. We only use it for evening viewing as my setup is in a partially light controlled family room. While I am happy with the existing setup, I would like better blacks and a brighter image, so it’s time for an upgrade.

    • Lisa Feierman

      Hi Dennis, I’m going to remained slammed for the next 6 weeks with a steady stream of projectors to review, including in house: Optoma HD23, BenQ W1070, and a JVC DLA-X35 arriving next week, then plenty more. That usually means I don’t get back to my “competitors pages” to update.

      But, while I did like the XV-Z30000, and will always like the DLP “look and feel”, I personally would definitely go with the Sony in this case. Better blacks, more brightness (with your screen that shouldn’t be an issue, except for 3D). Myself, I’d go with the Sony, or if the budget’s tighter, the Epson 5020. Those two definitely have the blackest blacks in the price range (well, the JVC X35 should be competitive but different (no iris, probably can’t get as black but a bit more dynamic range. Myself, I’d be leaning Sony, as you definitely don’t need the Epson’s brightest mode horsepower. On the other hand, should you go with the Epson, and be capable of 2000 lumens on the screen, that might open you up to more viewing not in the evening hours (I’m thinking HDTV and sports, rather than movies. -art
      PS. Keep me posted please! As you know, our readers love to get some feedback from our other readers… When we design our new website, I’m even considering a section for posting images of peoples theaters, etc…nothing too fancy, a couple of photos and some comment area… we shall see.