Review: Sony VPL-HW55ES Home Theater Projector

SONY VPL-HW55ES SPECIAL FEATURES

REALITY CREATION

Reality Creation is the most impressive of any of the “dynamic detail enhancement” features I have encountered.  Essentially, Sony’s Reality Creation looks closely at many aspects of the image, frame by frame, and enhances the image as it sees best.  It’s probably the smartest of programs designed to increase the perceived details, crispness and pop of the image.  Since they all work very different, don’t think of all “dynamic detail enhancement”  solutions out there as working the same way.

For example, Reality Creation apparently treats different subjects differently.  Just as red-eye reduction on a camera knows it’s looking at eyes, Reality Creation knows when the image contains a face, and will process that differently than when processing something else, like a building.

The bottom line is that Reality Creation used in moderation (setting 20 is a great place to start), you will see an image that visibly looks sharper than with it turned off.  For less cinematic situations, I find 50 makes a dramatic difference, but I’ve only really used that for sports.  I would find the 50 (out of 100) setting to be high enough that I’d find some objections if I used it on a movie such as The Hunger Games.  But then, I’m supposed to be critical, the average LCDTV owner, I’m sure would be fine with it.

I consider Reality Creation a major feature on this Sony, and impressive enough that despite the VPL-HW55 being a 3 panel device (so there’s never perfect conversion), most people will think the image is as sharp or sharper than a very good single chip (panel) DLP projector.  Lastly, although they all work differently, I find Reality Creation to be more effective than JVC’s E-shift, or Epson’s Super-Resolution.

Panel Alignment

Sony’s panel alignment program works brilliantly.  Best I’ve seen so far.  This Sony with panel alignment turned off was well off on horizontal lines, with blue below and red slightly above the green.  Shifting left to right, was better, but standing close, you could again see the color fringing.

After using the panel alignment, as you can see in the image above, there’s almost no trace of colors being unaligned!  Really nicely done!

3D Performance

3D on this Sony VPL-HW55ES is especially good, for a 3 panel device.  Crosstalk is minor, varying depending on content (some content has crosstalk already in it), and the “brightness” setting on the projector’s menus for the 3D glasses.  The brighter the picture, the more crosstalk, so you have the option of dialing in the best compromise between brightness and lack of cross-talk.

In 3D the projector is reasonably bright, keeping in mind that 3D is not going to be more than about 40% and likely closer to 30% as bright as 2D.  As is therefore usual, you want as much starting brightness as possible.  This, by the way, gives Sony a real advantage over the competing JVC projectors if you are a fan of 3D as I am.   The JVC’s simply aren’t as bright.  We haven’t gotten in the new JVCs yet – they are supposed to be slightly brighter than last year’s models , but overall those projectors have never been as bright as this Sony, which by our conservative measuring (we don’t measure absolute brightest, but brightest with a good watchable picture).

The VPL-HW55ES looks acceptably bright when I’m viewing at 100″ diagonal on my 1.3 gain Stewart Studiotek 130.  At my full 124″ diagonal, brightness with the glasses control set they way I like – one up from best/darkest – brightness was a bit below what I’d like to have but still watchable.  I’m not a fan of dim, especially 3D.  I keep my cineplex viewing of 3D IMAX 3D theaters, as generally I’ve found them brighter than the smaller screens.  I do, for example appreciate the better brightness (in Dynamic mode) of the Epson 5030UB/6030UB, when projecting the larger size, but it’s not enough difference that if you were torn between the two projectors, I wouldn’t recommend buying the Epson only for that extra brightness for 3D.  Roughly speaking, the difference between the Sony and Epson in 3D brightness is roughly that of going from lamp Full power to Eco-mode on the typical projector.

Bottom Line, the 3D picture works for me.  And, BTW you’ll have more accurate color in the brighter modes like Bright Cinema- uncalibrated, than the Epson competition in its uncalibrated Dynamic 3D mode.  I thoroughly enjoyed 3D viewing on the Sony.

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News And Comments

  • Petri

    “some content has crosstalk already in it” – such as? You can’t be referring to any professionally created & authored Blu-ray 3D, so you must be talking about something else.

    • ProjectorReviews.com

      Why not? I’m not an engineer, but I have seen crosstalk on some content, even with DLP projectors. I assume it’s in the recording process, not the post processing. I swear I’ve seen crosstalk in the theaters, as well. -a

      • Petri

        Well, you obviously know very little of the subject. There is no contamination of the two streams during filming when the movie is shot with two cameras; it’s simply not possible. Even on post-converted titles it’s hugely unlikely as the generated streams are processed separately. There’s definitely crosstalk in the theaters, more on some 3D projection solutions than others. And even though DLP projectors generally show very little crosstalk, they are most definitely not immune to it. Unless there’s been a major snafu in authoring, any crosstalk you see when viewing a Blu-ray 3D is 100% caused by the display/projector and glasses.

  • ROBERT MCBEE

    POLAR EXPRESS BLU RAY 3D, it’s a great test disc for 3D Crosstalk, seen it on OPTOMA & BENQ DLP projectors with DLP LINK & RF emitter which resulted in a pure, clean, sharp image ! Put it on LCD or LCOS and it’s a TRAIN WRECK of a mess ! The Crosstalk ruins the movie just as Rainbows on DLP 2D ! What the hell, just buy 2 projectors, prices are falling now !

    • ProjectorReviews.com

      Alas Robert, it’s too bad crosstalk drives you crazy. I can only handle so much with Rainbows, none of the slower color wheel projectors, so I understand.

      I’m with you, one solution is to have two projectors. A relatively low cost DLP just for the 3D would make sense for you and others. And several of them are pretty bright. I still have a BenQ W1500 here, and it is definitely cleaner than the Epson or Sony for crosstalk, although I use the Epson most for 3D (lots of lumens), then the Sony. -art

  • @ashaw4811

    Art, what is the largest screen that you would recommend for this projector?