Sony VPL-HW40ES Projector Review – Performance 1

SONY VPL-HW40ES PROJECTOR – PERFORMANCE 1: Brightness (Pre- and Post-Calibration)

Sony VPL-HW40ES Brightness

Sony VPL-HW40ES Projector – Brightness by Mode, Mid-zoom (at 100 IRE)
ModeBrightness (Lumens)Color Temp at 100 IRE
Cinema Film 114976721
Cinema Film 213545720
Bright Cinema15927787
Bright TV16167789

1500 lumens calibrated makes this Sony a veritable light canon.  Oh, there are some much brighter projectors out there that can be had for the home, but those few are more expensive, and not really true home theater projectors.  There are a few other projectors that are somewhat brighter, but most can’t match this Sony in terms of brightness, and the ability to handle larger screens or ambient light.

Mike measured each of the modes, measuring lumens, and the color temperature at 100 IRE (white) as seen in this chart.  As you can see, all the modes are similar in brightness, well, within a few hundred lumens.  We measure, as noted, with the zoom lens set to mid-point.  Interestingly the Sony’s optics produce about the same brightness at mid-point as in full wide angle.  Most projectors with similar lenses get an extra 15 to 25% more brightness, an advantage if its convenient to mount your projector relatively close.

Here’s a sampling of the color temperature range across different brightness levels, pre calibration, for Reference mode, which we noted is essentially the same as Cinema Film 1 and User.  It exhibits a slight shift from a bit too much red in the darker ranges to a touch cool by the time we approach white.

Effect of zoom on lumen output (Game mode):
Zoom out1731
Zoom in1588

This table shows the effect of the lenses zoom on brightness.  As discussed in greater depth the Special Features page, the lens is unusual in that there’s no significant loss of brightness going from wide angle to mid-point on the zoom.

Sony VPL-HW40ES Brightness: Calibrated

Color Temp over IRE Range (Post calibration):
2.2 Gamma2.4 Gamma
20 IRE64136219
30 IRE64326376
40 IRE64766375
50 IRE65786500
60 IRE66476598
70 IRE66956675
80 IRE67116690
90 IRE67256721
100 IRE67216721
Average gamma2.112.30

The settings changes made when calibrating were slight enough to make almost no change in measured brightness, within our margin of measuring error.  Let’s just call it 1500 lumens calibrated, even though Mike’s official number is 1512.  Or as Mike put it, no real difference in brightness – calibrated or not.

We did not calibrate low power mode, but it should work out to about 975 lumens calibrated in Low lamp.   As discussed below, the color temp balance in Eco is not the same as at full power.  Therefore, while this Sony VPL-HW40ES was nearly perfect out of the box in terms of color, that is definitely not the case for the Sony’s Eco mode.

Sony VPL-HW40ES Brightness: Calibrated, Eco-mode

Brightness (Game mode) – Full power vs.  Eco
High Power1722 lumens
Low (eco) Power1117 lumens

To drop the projector into “eco-mode” the setting is found in Cinema Black Pro, on the main menu.  The choices are simple:  High, and Low.

Switching to Low reduced brightness by 35.1 percent – let’s call it 35%.  In a home theater type room, many owners will be able to run in low power for typical movie viewing thanks to still having almost 1000 lumens calibrated.

The big advantage of using eco-mode is cost related.  Here’s the thing:  While brightness drops 35%, there is a huge gain in lamp life according to Sony.

My general recommendation is that the HW40ES is a great projector for the money, but for roughly an extra $1000, I consider the HW55ES to be the better investment and worth the difference.  I mention this now, because lamp life comes into play.

The HW40ES claims a very impressive 5000 hours in Eco-mode (aka Low lamp), but things start getting expensive if running the projector at full power where the lamp is rated only 2000 hours, which, these days, is way below average.  For a “worst case” comparison, consider that the Sony lamp lists for $369, while the Epson 5030UB’s lamp lists for $249 (both get discounted), but the Epson lamp at full power is rated 4000 hours compared to 2000 for the Sony.  (The Epson is 5000 hours, just like the Sony, when in Eco-mode.  So, the point is, if you run in full power you definitely should factor in unusually high lamp costs into a Sony HW40ES purchase.

A reminder:  Lamp based projectors do not calibrate the same in full power and eco-modes.  Therefore, in theory, if you plan to switch back and forth, you would want both calibrated.  We don’t do that, but I can say from playing with the HW40ES, that the out of the box color definitely isn’t as good in “eco-lmode” on this HW40ES I have here.

Current dealer prices for Sony VPL-HW40ES

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