Sony VPL-HW30ES Home Theater Projector Review

How does this Sony VPL-HW30ES compare to other 1080p home theater projectors on the market?

Take a quick look at how I see the Sony, in each case pointing out a few things. Keep in mind this Sony is one of the earlier projectors we’re reviewing this fall season, when most manufacturers bring out new models. As such, some projectors we have yet to see, we’d like to compare. In cases like that the comparison will show up in the later projector’s reviews.

Sony VPL-HW30ES vs. Epson Pro Cinema 9700UB and Home 8700UB

The two Epson’s are essentially the same, except that the Pro has full anamorphic support, which the Sony lacks. Both Epsons cost less, and the Home version is available online. The Sony’s strengths include its color handling, the picture looks great. It offers 3D, which the Epsons lack.

Both have very good CFI, but the Epson will produce blacker blacks and has a slight advantage in shadow detail as well. It can put up a beautiful picture, but is less forgiving of poorer quality production offerings. The Sony HW30ES has very good placement flexibility, but the Epson easily bests it, in this regard, with almost twice the zoom range, and more lens shift.

Sony VPL-HW30ES vs. Sony VPL-VW90ES and VW95ES

The VW90ES is just being relaced by the VW95ES which has not been reviewed as of this time. The VW90ES becomes dated, as a first gen 3D model, unlike the HW30ES, or the new VW95ES. I’ll presume that the 95ES when we review it, will have as good or better 3D than the HW30ES, whereas the 90ES doesn’t. The more expensive Sony is fully motorized, supports an anamorphic lens, and also produces better blacks. It has a more sophisticated pixel alignment system, and other frills. It’s a big difference in price, though for two projectors with a similar look and feel to the picture, although the VW95ES could be a real step up. We shall see.

VPL-HW30ES vs. Sharp XV-Z17000

LCoS vs. DLP projector. You’ll get a bit more “pop” out of the Optoma’s image, and, although both projectors are similarly bright, the Sony is brighter in 3D. The two are relatively similar in placement flexibility with the Sony having a 1.6:1 and the Optoma with a 1:51 lens. While the HD8300 produces a great looking image, I really do think that the Sony is the better value. It offers a smoother iris action, more preset modes, for a lower price. If the DLP look and feel is something you crave (and I get emails from folks who have owned DLP, switched to something else, and are asking about which DLP they should buy, because they want to go back), then the Optoma is worth considering. That’s not everyone, of course, but there is something to it.

Sony VPL-HW30ES vs. Runco LS5

No contest, if you can live without 3D, without some frills, the Runco simply puts up the more perfect picture. It has better blacks, better shadow detail (not by much). The Sony is pretty smooth, the Runco, better. Of course the Runco is twice the price, for less features.

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