Review: Sony VPL-HW55ES Home Theater Projector

SONY VPL-HW55ES PROJECTOR PERFORMANCE: PAGE 3

IMAGE NOISE, COLOR MODE DIFFERENCES, LENS THROW, LENS SHIFT

VPL-HW55ES Lens Throw and Lens Shift

Lens Throw, Lens Shift Range for 100″ Diagonal 16:9  Screen
Lens Throw Closest:  9.7 feet Furthest:  15.7 feet
Lens Shift Max Above screen top: 8″ Max Below green bottom 8″

While 1.6:1 zoom is a good deal more than many projectors – especially many DLP models, some folks that would like to mount the projector on a rear shelf, will find that they might need a very large screen for the room size they have.  Projectors with 2:1 zooms have that extra range to work in many/most rooms.   If that’s your goal, rear shelf mounting, start measuring!  If you would like to know the range for a 120″ screen instead of the 100″ quoted in the chart, you would simply have to multiply the 9.7 or 15.7 by 1.2 since the bigger screen is 20% larger. Lens shift is excellent.  Not the maximum, but very generous.  A number of projectors with adjustable lens shift cannot go higher than having the center of the lens mounted even with the top of the screen, or above the bottom.  With this Sony VPL-HW55ES, you can place the projector anywhere that the center of the lens is between 8 inches above the top of the screen surface, to 8″ below the bottom of the screen surface.  Again, that’s excellent. There is of course horizontal lens shift.  There’s a good amount of horizontal lens shift as well.  Just remember if you use any horizontal, it will limit the amount of vertical adjustment range you will have!

Image Noise

I rarely play with and adjust Noise Reduction type settings.  Thus, my comments are based on how the projector performs with its default noise reduction settings.  First to note about this Sony VPL-HW55ES projector is that it has at least 3 different noise controls.  There are controls for static, and motion noise on the menus, and there’s also a specific image noise adjustment inside the Reality Creation menu.

This Sony is very clean.  Basic mosquito noise is very low, dramatically less noticeable than the average competing DLP projector.  Motion noise issues are also under control, except in one area, which seems to be a Sony thing.  There’s a bit more bounce to the judder when this (and older Sony’s does a slow pan with 24 fps movies.  The pan of the neighborhood in the movie Red is my primary test.  OK, I’d like that improved – short of turning on 3:2 pull-down which creates its own problems.

In thinking about it, that slow pan is probably the biggest direct complaint I can think of about this projector, where performance could be improved.  And note, that extra bounce occurs only with just the right panning speed.  On most other pans it’s essentially the same as any other good projector.

VPL-HW55ES Picture Mode Comparison: Brightness and Color

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Picture Modes Compared

Calibrated User mode

Looks good here, even better when watching movies

TV Mode

I recommend a Calibrated User mode or Reference mode over TV

Uncalibrated Reference Mode

Even the THX modes on JVCs and Epson's don't start out this good.

Photo Mode

I really did not use this mode. No comment.

Game Mode

Lot's of "pop and wow" factor, brightest, but I prefer Bright Cinema

Cinema Film 2

This mode has the color temperature for viewing classic black and white movies. Enjoy!

Cinema Film 1

Looks very good, but Reference is the more accurate, better balanced. Close!

Bright TV

Wow, lots of lumens, lots of pop to the picture - closest to a classic Dynamic mode but much better than most

Bright Cinema Mode

I preferred this mode for my sports, and for general HDTV with ambient light present!

I provided a brief comment about each mode, that you will see as you use the slide viewer.

The bottom line, though:  No ambient light present, if you want the best, most accurate image, choose Reference.  It’s also as good a mode to use to start a calibration from.

With ambient  light present, or if you have friends and don’t want to watch in dark cave mode, without any adjustment Bright Cinema had my preferred picture.  I used it for almost all non movie viewing, and for movie viewing with more than a little ambient light in the room.

I liked the Cinema 2 for black and white movies, but I liked better, Epson’s implementation which adds a touch of sepia tone to duplicate the way those classics looked, “back in the day.”

The interesting thing to note, is that there isn’t a single mode that even remotely looks bad, although Game mode can see a little over the top.

Next page is Warranty.  Many folks don’t give it much weight, but it is one of a projector’s most valuable features, IF YOU NEED IT!

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