Sony VPL-HW30ES Projector - Physical Tour
This Sony VPL-HW30ES projector shares a physical appearance, and overall exterior design, resembling several older Sony projectors, such as the Pro1, and HW15. Our tour of the VPL-HW30ES hardware begins with a quick overview, then more in-depth information and images of the lens features, the control panel, inputs, and remote control. We also include the Sony HW30ES's menus in this section, as they logically "fit" well with the the control panel and this Sony projector's remote control.
10/9/2011 - Art Feierman
Sony VPL-HW30ES Projector - Appearance
The VPL-HW30ES is a bit larger than average sized, under $10,000 home theater projector. There are plenty smaller, including some less than 1/4 the size, but, all considered, it's a manageable size, a good bit smaller than some similarly priced competition, including some larger LCoS projectors which include the 3D capable JVCs, the Mitsubishi HC9000D... The Sony is definitely larger than most of the lower cost LCD projectors and the smaller DLP projectors.
The lens is manual, and center mounted in the front. It's recessed, in the sense that other parts of the front of the Sony projector extend further out, for protection, but, the full lens is not recessed into the cabinet itself. This isn't exactly a portable projector, so, don't worry about it too much. There is also an infra-red sensor for the Sony HW30ES remote control. Two screw thread adjustable feet adorn the bottom front of the projector.
The controls for the VPL-HW30's lens shift are on the top, right behind the lens.
No control panel on the top, where you would find it located on most projectors. Instead, you will find the control panel on the left side.
In fact, the small control panel is located above the recessed input panel, that runs along the side close to the bottom
VPL-HW30ES Control Panel
This is the same small control panel found on previous VW and HW series projectors. It's located on the left side (if facing the front of the projector). The button closest to the front is your power switch, with the usual press once to turn on, press twice to power down.
The whole affair is very small, and barely noticeable on the side of the projector. There are two buttons moving toward the back: Input selection, and the second one, is the Menu button. All that leaves is a mini-joystick that replaces the usual four arrow keys. Pressing the joystick in, is the Enter function. All considered, it works pretty well. I still prefer control panels on the top, not that anyone tends to use them once a projector is mounted.
VPL-HW30ES Projector - Input/Output
For the most part, the VPL-HW30's input panel is similar to previous HW and VW LCoS projectors.
It is located on the side of the projector, below the control panel, and runs from back to front. Furthest to the rear is the power receptacle. Just forward, and above, are two HDMI 1.4a inputs (one circuit, two connectors, as is typical). Next up, is a standard HD15 analog computer input, for hooking up to a traditional PC.
That's followed by the usual composite video (yellow RCA jack), and then the three (R,G,B) color coded RCA jacks for the component video. Note, should you need two component video connections, the HD15 computer connection should be able to double as your second one.
After the component video, is an ethernet type jack for the 3D emitter that comes with the VPL-HW30AES projector package, or is bundled with 2 pair of glasses as an option for the VPL-HW30ES base projector.
Note, Sony says the 3D emitter works best, when placed in the front of the room, facing back to the audience. I would tend to agree. I had more problems fiinding a good place for it, where it allowed glasses to work from just about any place one could call seating in my theater, Once I figured it out, it worked well. In my case, for my longest temp setup, I had about a 20 foot run of ethernet cable between the transmitter and the projector.
Next (second from the front) is a jack to hardwire the remote control (for long distances, or rear projection, where there's no line of sight).
Finally, there's the usual RS-232 serial port for command and control from a room or whole house system
The VPL-VW30ES does not have a 12 volt trigger (for controlling an anamorphic lens, or a motorized screen), found on the $9999, VPL-VW95ES.
The Sony VPL-HW30ES menus have the same look and feel as the VPL-HW30ES's predecessors. Below, find most of the main menus, several sub-menus, and adjustment controls. Several have specific comments added for clarity. I'll point out some of the 3D menu features as well.
Sony VPL-HW30ES Remote Control
I like this Sony remote. It's another long narrow remote. It feels good in your hand, solid! The backlight - is just a tad dim for my taste, but probably not an issue for the majority of folks. You can get to a lot of the main controls without shifting your hand from the middle area, but, power on and off, and that backlight are at the top, where you'll probably use your other hand to control them.
Not far below those three, is a block of 3 rows by 3 buttons with your picture modes - nine total including the two User modes.
Further down is the navigation area of the Sony remote control. Three large buttons surround the four navigation arrows and center Enter button. Those three are Pattern - for test patterns, and Reset. The third one, at the bottom is the all important Menu button. (I never have understood why anyone would design RESET to be a large button the middle of things. Scary - although you have to confirm.)
The next block of nine buttons give you direct access to most of the major image controls. The first row has their aspect ratio, CFI (MotionFlow), and 3D. The next line offers color space, color temp and their RCP (Real Color Processing) color management. The last three: Gamma control, Black Level and the Iris control (two dynamic modes, and manual).
That only leaves three very more popular controls, and those are +/- controls at the bottom for Sharpness, Brightness, and Contrast.
Overall a very good remote, but move the Reset.
Sony VPL-HW30ES Lens Throw
The VPL-HW30ES offers a 1.6:1 zoom ratio.
To fill the usual 100" diagonal screen, the front of the projector can be as close as 9.7 feet from the screen, or as far back as 15.7 feet. In both cases, that allows you to place it a little closer, say, than the Optoma HD8300 (more expensive DLP projector), which has a slightly narrower zoom range of 1.5:1.
Overall, the range of the Sony zoom is very typical for zooms in the 1.5:1 to 1.6:1 range. Even projectors with 2:1 zooms, typically can't sit closer to a 100" screen than about 9.5 feet, but can go back to about 20 feet.
The only real downside for the VPL-HW30ES in terms of placement flexibility, is that while the HW30ES is capable of being rear shelf mounted, in many rooms, you won't have the zoom range to place the projector on the back wall. If, however, you have a fairly short back wall, or a pretty large screen for the room, you may yet be able to rear mount.
As a bonus, unlike most other projectors with this much zoom range, the Sony loses a lot less brightness than many, when going from wide-angle (closest to the screen) to tele-photo.
The Sony VPL-HW30ES does offer manual horizontal and vertical lens shift. As is typical, there's far more vertical shift. Remember, if you use any horizontal shift, that will affect the maximum amount of vertical you can use (and vice versa).
Assuming no horizontal shift, the vertical lens shift of the Sony VPL-HW30ES will allow you to have the projector positioned +/- 65% of screen height. Our usual 100" diagonal 16:9 screen is roughly 50" tall, so that provides a range of +/- about 33 inches with the lens (measured from the center of the lens) approximately 8 inches above the top of the screen surface, all the way down to about 8 inches below the bottom of the screen surface.
There are a number of projectors with more vertical lens shift range, but the Sony numbers are pretty good. Having more range would help someone with a high ceiling, allowing the projector to be mounted higher up, were it is more out of the way. Of course the difference between the Sony, and the competition that has more range, is typically maybe an extra 15 inches of shift at most, not exactly a factor if you have a really high ceiling. (I once had a projector mounted and hanging down almost 8 feet on the usual extension pole, due to having a cathedral ceiling).
Anamorphic Lens - Wide Screen
The Sony VPL-HW30ES does not support an anamorphic lens!