Sony VPL-HW40ES Home Theater Projector Review

SONY VPL-HW40ES PROJECTOR – SUMMARY PAGE 1: Overall Summary, Brightness Summary, 3D

Sony VPL-HW40ES Summary

I really like the Sony VPL-HW40ES projector.  Simply stated it’s one hell of a projector in terms of performance, considering it sells in the $2000 to $2500 range.  It’s definitely got some trade-offs, but there’s no question in my mind that it’s one of the two most desirable projectors available under $3000. In saying that, remember my mantra – the trick is to pick out the best projector for your world, not some theoretical best projector from a technical standpoint.  That means your room conditions, how often you are watching it, what type of content you are watching, your budget, and what’s most important to you in terms of picture quality including, sometimes having to choose the best compromise between black levels, sharpness, color accuracy, and even warranty and support, are all factors to be considered in making the right choice.

In the US, the projector only comes in the dark finish, which is unfortunate for some.  Since the HW40ES is a projector we can recommend not only for a darkened theater, but for many reasonable, media, living, family, and bonus rooms, where often the ceilings and walls aren’t dark, and where esthetically, a key family member might tell you “a black projector won’t look good here, pick something else.”

Sony VPL-HW40ES Brightness Summary

This Sony is your basic light canon, which we loosely define as having at least 1500 good looking (if not calibrated) lumens.  The Sony nails that claim with a measured, calibrated 1500!  There’s another almost 250 lumens hiding under the hood, if you go into the definitely  less perfect, but still not bad, Photo mode.  Even placing at the Sony’s minimal distance from the screen, though doesn’t add any significant lumens to the mid-point on the zoom’s brightness. Still, 1500 calibrated lumens in a dedicated, darkened theater will have no problem on screens up to 150” diagonal or even a bit larger, with a typical 1.3 gain screen.

The Sony produces a nice, and very bright calibrated image when I’m watching widescreen movies on my 124” Stewart Studiotek 130 screen in my theater. That same 1500 lumens also means that you get a reasonably bright 3D image at 100” diagonal or slightly larger, and at my full 124” diagonal, the picture definitely could be brighter, but is definitely watchable.  Some folks might still find that a bit dim, but keep in mind that this is one of the brightest options out there.

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HW40ES 3D

3D – I’m a bigger 3D fan than most.  The Sony overall is great for 3D, thanks to having the necessary brightness, and their modes generate some very respectable color on 3D without calibration.  My only real bitch about 3D is that I favor RF (radio frequency) based glasses, not IR.  As I discussed in Special Features, 3D glasses choices with the Sony are “tricky”.  First thing: Sony provides no 3D glasses with the projector.

Most competitors provide one pair, some provide two pair of 3D glasses. Most are RF these days, and the lightest, most comfortable glasses I have here are RF. So, I’d say if you want 3D, go by the needed RF 3D emitter that’s optional.  Problem is, for another couple of months it’s almost impossible to buy in the US.  Still come this fall, XPAND, who makes the emitter for these Sony’s will have a bundle with the special cable needed to get the emitter to work.

When the 3D emitter package does ship, it will be sold under the XPAND name.  They will sell it direct, and its likely some Sony dealers, and others will carry them. The MSRP will be $199.    Until that’s available you would still have to buy the emitter (same price), and spend an extra $60 for a hand built cable.  I’d say wait about 60 days or so from this review’s publication, until the package is ready.  The part number from XPAND is AD025-RF-X1-R1.

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News And Comments

  • http://www.avintegrated.com/ Paul Vail

    Support of 2.35 should be handled just fine with this model by use of the ‘poor mans’ zoom method (manual) as well as for anamorphic zoom settings in the aspect ratio with the use of a anamorphic lens. The review didn’t seem to offer a single word on an anamorphic setup, so I wanted to add that for those considering 2.35 / anamorphic with the Sony VPL-HW40ES projector.

    • ProjectorReviews.com

      Thanks Paul,

      As I do what you call “poor mans” when I’m using the Epson 5030UB I have here, yep, it works. It won’t work for everyone though. For those ceiling mounting, the projector will often be too high up (without a step ladder, and there’s the risk of the projector itself rotating slightly unless all aspects of the mount are very tight. -art

  • john j

    The zoom method with a lumagen sounds like a good idea, but with a picture as crisp as this $2000 PJ has, the poor man’s method looks like the smart man’s method.