Sony VPL-HW30ES Home Theater Projector Review

As I started this review by saying, “When it comes to thinking about the Sony’s value proposition, perhaps most impressive is that the Sony VPL-HW30ES offers overall performance reasonably close to the $9999 VPL-VW90ES projector, and with more brightness, but less frills.”

This is a projector that works best in a home theater environment, but can double in a light controlled family room as well. It’s definitely more value than last year’s VPL-VWPro1, and can easily take on the likes of the Sharp XV-Z17000, and Optoma HD8300. It’s early in this home theater season, so there are more new competitors yet to review, still, the Sony VPL-HW30ES is definitely a projector worth considering. Tastefully done.

Sony VPL-HW30ES Projector: Pros and Cons

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Sony VPL-HW30ES Projector: Pros

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  • One of the brighest 3D capable projectors so far, in the over $3500 price class
  • 800+ measured lumens in “best” mode, no problem, even with large screens (ie: 10 feet wide)
  • Excellent overall color, and skin tones
  • Lots of preset image modes
  • Calibrates nicely for really good color handling, natural look
  • Respectable shadow detail
  • Very good placement flexibility
  • HDMI 1.4a inputs (2) allows for support for Blu-ray 3D content
  • 3D glasses (optional on base model, included on HW30AES for $3999), are relatively light weight, reasonably comfortable for glasses wearers
  • Very good CFI (motion smoothing) MotionFlow
  • Does motion smoothing, even in 3D (which is not common)
  • Get extra brightness in 3D with glasses control (but more image noise)
  • Excellent warranty
  • Fairly quiet, even at full power
  • Very good remote control
  • Near black finish works well in dedicated theaters
  • Very good menu layout
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Sony VPL-HW30ES Projector: Cons

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  • Black levels, while very good, not best in class
  • Emitter seems to work best in front of room (long ethernet cable from projector)
  • CFI (like all but a few projectors) is a little much for movie viewing (changes the director’s intent)
  • Though brighter than most competitors, more subtle – less “wow” factor
  • 3D glasses are optional (just a reminder)
  • Overall price: While reasonable, it prices slightly higher than several new direct competitors although well below some others, like the Optoma HD8300 and Mitsubishi HC9000D, and Sony’s own VPL-VW95ES
  • Like most 3D capable projectors, a bit underpowered at 3D for medium and larger screen sizes
  • Cost of operation (lamp life on the low side of the range)
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Sony VPL-HW30ES Projector: Typical Capabilities

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  • Black Level performance
  • Lens features (lens shift, medium zoom range)
  • Cost of operation
  • Overall value
  • Documentation (very good at some things, but still could use a bit more in explanations)

Ready to go? Want a very nice projector under $4000 for your home theater, that can do some very natural 2D picture quality, and 3D with a bit more brightness than most? If this projector works in your room, it is definitely one to be considered!

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