Review: Sony VPL-HW55ES Home Theater Projector

SONY VPL-HW55ES:  PROS AND CONS

PROs

  • One of the brighter 3D capable projectors under $5000
  • The best “right out of the box” picture I can think of in terms of color accuracy
  • Almost 1000 lumens in “best” mode, can handle 150″ diagonal screens without difficulty
  • Excellent overall color, and especially skin tones
  • Lots of preset image modes
  • Calibrates beautifully for really good color handling, natural look
  • Good shadow detail, really good black levels
  • Very good placement flexibility
  • HDMI 1.4a inputs (2) allows for support for Blu-ray 3D content
  • Wireless HDMI is an option
  • 3D glasses provided (2 pair) These are IR glasses, same as last year’s
  • Very good CFI (motion smoothing) MotionFlow
  • Reality Creation really raises the bar for dynamic sharpening and detail enhancement
  • Get extra brightness in 3D with glasses control (the brighter, the more crosstalk – it’s your call)
  • Excellent 3 year warranty
  • Fairly quiet, even at full power
  • Really good remote control
  • Near black finish works well in dedicated theaters, or if in the EU, choose white finish for lighter rooms
  • Very good menu layout, very good manual
  • A top contender for this year’s “Best In Class” award
  • Very good price performance proposition
Click Image to Enlarge

CONs

  • Lacks lens memory for those who would prefer a 2.35:1 screen instead of the standard 16:9 screens
  • Others offer lamps with longer claimed life (although low power is improved to 5000 hours)
  • I  don’t like the Reset button where it is on the remote control on around the navigation, but a single press won’t get you into trouble
  • Could use a third HDMI input
  • Could offer wireless HDMI… No!  Wait!  That was a CON from last year’s HW50ES. This projector has wireless HDMI, as an option!
  • Projector could be brighter – I’m thinking primarily for 3D, but also for non-theater placement – still it is one of the brightest serious projectors
  • Sony needs new, more comfortable, lighter weight 3D glasses – Hold on!  That’s what I said last year, but we’ve still got them as the standard, provided glasses.  I recommend (but it costs) the new RF emitter.  That way you can buy extremely light weight, 3rd party glasses inexpensively.  Emitter works with Epson glasses, and some very low cost Samsung glasses
  • White finished version not available in the US.  (Most will will want the dark finish)
  • A side by side, or picture in picture mode would be nice (but both are rarely found features)
  • I do not believe you can use the IR glasses and RF glasses at the same time (not able to verify)   Not surpassing, no one else switching from IR to RF has offered that ability to my knowledge

Everyone, that’s a wrap.  The only think left is the  specs page.

Last thoughts:  Will there be videos based on this review?  Yes, by 12/20/13  If Sony does a Permission, the  the videos will both be public.  If not, the full length video will be only for subscribers.  It will include video clips of the projector performing!

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News And Comments

  • mughees

    Where’s the video review? planning to upgrade my projector. This one;s tough with good review good price. Only question now is either to go for this one or JVC’s latest one.

    Thanks for the review.

    • ProjectorReviews.com

      The HW55 video should be done in the next ten days. The video clips are shot, the script is written, but I just couldn’t find the time to the shoot of the script, and of one of the HW55 features, before heading to CES. I’ll probably do the shoots over the weekend, and it usually takes Lisa and the video production guy about a week to come up with a final version. Hang in there. -a

  • Dr-Mohamed Adel Khalil

    Nice review ,,are you think hw40es nice than ae8000 in black level and clean in 3d like it ??

    • ProjectorReviews.com

      Greetings Dr.

      The Panasonic with its dynamic iris will do a better job on those really dark scenes when it comes to black levels. The two projectors are equally sharp, although with Reality Creation, the Sony can “enhance” that sharpness more than the Panny. The Panny has more max lumens, but the HW40 has more great looking lumens with twice the calibrated brightness. As to 3D, I’d have to bet on the Sony, both for good color/brightness combination, and the fact that I haven’t seen a PT-AE8000 in two years, and manufacturer’s 3D keeps improving (in most cases). Also with no new announcements at IFA or CEDIA, and my inability to get a straight answer out of Panasonic, it sure seems like they are quitting the home theater side, this is the first time to my knowledge since Panasonic brought out their first HT projector that they’ve gone 2 consecutive years without a new model. That tends to make one think they are quitting, but have inventory to sell of. Still that’s pure guesswork on my part. -art

      • Dr-Mohamed Adel Khalil

        Thank you for reply me ,, but i have Panasonic ae7000 and i want to upgrade my home cinema ,, you recommend me hw40es or ae8000 ?? in your opinion ??

        i use 120 inch 1.0 gain screen and very dark walls in my room .

        thank you again .

        • ProjectorReviews.com

          Greetings,

          Overall, I’d probably go with the Sony. Between the Sony and the Epson 5030, I prefer the Epson because of a significant black level advantage on darkest scenes. But the Panny was never a match for the Epson, so at best will be closer to the HW40ES, and probably not significantly better. The Sony I think does a more gorgeous picture. Also the 8000 isn’t a dramatic improvement over your current 7000. You might even want to sit on the sidelines for another two years, and perhaps something with pixel shifting such as the JVC RS49 or those new Epsons coming out, and with 4K source capability, come down into your $2000ish price range.

          That said, I do believe you would find the HW40ES a very nice improvement over your AE7000. Let me know what you do, and how it turns out. -art

          • Dr-Mohamed Adel Khalil

            Hi dear ,

            Well, I will follow your recommendations with full confidence, and when I get HW40ES I will reply you, and I will compare between Panasonic & SONY supported by pictures .

          • ProjectorReviews.com

            Thanks! -art