The Sony VPL-HW40ES: Why It Won
Last year I spent more than 100 hours viewing Sony's HW40ES. The least expensive home theater projector from Sony, it differs from their more expensive HW55ES in several ways:
First of all, to its credit, it’s noticeably brighter. Think of the HW40ES as the projector for the media room, or a good living room, family room, etc., rather than a dedicated, dark surfaced home theater. Understand, it's still an excellent choice in a dedicated theater, but, for example, it lacks a dynamic iris for better black level performance. As a result our other winners in this price range, the Epson HC5030UB/PC6030UB and Sony's own VPL-HW55ES are superior in this regard. A few other projectors around the price, including the BenQ W7500, and probably the Panasonic PT-AE8000U, also have slightly better black level action.
A key strength is that the color is nearly perfect, "right out of the box." Mike our calibrator figured that only the hard core enthusiast viewing before and after, side by side, might notice a difference. When it comes to 3D, the built in 3D is IR, not RF. The optional kit with the RF emitter and cable is officially $199 extra on top of the official $2499 price. You’ll need to buy 3D glasses too.