Review: Sony VPL-HW55ES Home Theater Projector

Sony VPL-HW55ES PROJECTOR:  HARDWARE FEATURES AND TOUR

VPL-HW55ES Projector: Starting In The Front

Sony sent me the black finished version of the VPL-HW55ES projector, rather than the white one.  Shiny black projectors are tough to photograph, so to make things easier, I’m using Sony’s professional images.  They just look better.

Let’s get started: Sony’s 1.6:1 manual zoom lens is center mounted and recessed.  Part of the intake and exhaust vents are on partially on the front and on the side at the front.  Down below  are two very small screw thread adjustable feet, for those placing the projector on a table.  The only other feature on the front of the VPL-HW55ES is the infra-red sensor for the remote control.  That (if you are facing the projector), is on the right, near the bottom, recessed as well, so not easy to spot.  Other than the sensor, and the glass of the lens, the front of the projector is flat black (really dark gray), so as not to reflect light from the screen, back to the screen.  The top of the projector is curved, and a nice shiny black, although when sunlight enters my room, it seems to have a slight bluish tint (very dark)!

Overall, the Sony is a moderately large projector in size, very nicely sculpted, weighing in at about 21 pounds (9.4kg.)  Let’s take a closer look.

All the lens controls are located on the top, more on that shortly.   Again, if you are facing the front of the Sony projector, you would find that the control panel and the inputs are all located on the left side.

 

Lens Controls - Sony VPL-HW55ES

For your consideration, this is a closeup photo of the lens and lens shift controls shooting down from the top.

You can see the case flaring out, to create the recess for the lens.  Rotating the outer (front) ring of the lens handles the manual focus.

There’s a notch on the inner ring for adjusting the 1.6:1 zoom lens.  Both controls are very smooth, and solid feeling, better than most projectors.

Right behind the lens, you can see the two lens shift rings.  The one on the left, in the photo, is the vertical (I bet you guessed that), while the other handles horizontal lens shift.   As I’ve written too many times, vertical and horizontal lens shift controls work in tandem.  If you use maximum vertical shift, there’s no horizontal available, and vice versa.  But the less vertical shift you use, the more horizontal is available.

Click Image to Enlarge

Control Panel: VPL-HW55ES

This Sony projector has the same layout as several generations of Sony HW series projectors.   It sports a tiny control panel, and the inputs and other connectors are also there, below the panel.

Let’s start with the “mini” control panel.  If you start closest to the front the first button is the power (press once for on twice to power down).

The next button (small) is the input selector.

The third button is Menu, and brings up the main menu.

To navigate the menus, the fourth “button” is really a tiny joystick/diskpad.  Moving the center part up, down, left, right, allows you to navigate the menu system.

Clicking on this side image of the Sony HW55ES projector, will allow you to see all the buttons and connectors easily.

Side view, showing control panel and inputs:  VPL-HW55ES Projector

Side view, showing control panel and inputs: Sony              VPL-HW55ES Projector

Inputs and Connectors: Sony HW55ES Projector

We’ll tackle the connectors starting closest to the back of the Sony.  First is the power cord receptacle.

Next comes a pair of HDMI inputs (1.4).  That’s pretty standard stuff.  As is most of the rest.  Next up is an HD15 connector – the standard for your analog computer input.  You can either use it to hook up to your laptop, etc., or if needed, it can double as a second component video input.

Speaking of component video, the next three connectors are color coded RCA jacks, for the main component video input.  Right along side those jacks is the ethernet like connector, for the optional RF emitter for the new 3D glasses.

That’s followed by a small connector for the remote control, in case your setup needs the remote hard wired, instead of using the infra-red.  Just one more jack left, that’s a nine pin RS232 for serial command and control.  Missing from the Sony are some of the lower res video inputs, that is composite video and S-video.  These were standard on all projectors for years, but with high definition everywhere, they have gone out of favor.

 

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