Projector Reviews

Sony VPL-HW30ES Projector – Image Quality-4

That said, it’s not like 4-5 years ago, when seeing the darkest shadow details was easier, because those older projectors had (compared to projectors like this Sony), inferior blacks, and everything was lighter. Just remember, rarely is the important stuff in the darkest details, rather, you mostly want to avoid having large “flat” areas where all detail is lost. That’s something, generally, I only really encounter today, on entry level home projectors, but, that tendency years ago, is what put “black level performance” in the forefront of enthusiasts attention. (If the projector is just flattening the near blacks, and all that detail is gone, then you want that area to be “black” not medium dark gray, making black level performance important.) But, let’s move on to the images.

The night train image does a great job for checking out shadow detail. This is a very dark scene overall. Look to the shrubs on the right, especially behind the tracks, and also look for shadow detail in the wood behind them. Click, as usual, for a much larger image.

Black Level and Shadow Detail Performance: VPL-HW30ES Projector - Bottom Line

As to shadow detail, again, classic performance for the price range. Some will be a bit better, but, mostly I’d be quibbling. I consider that last mile of dark shadow detail to be relatively minor. Given a choice at this level of projector, I see black levels as the more important performance area.

Sony VPL-HW30ES - Overall Color & Picture Quality

In all the past reviews of Sony’s I have generally considered the color to be better than most. That holds true again. Skin tones came out excellent, post calibration. The colorspace (Natural) was extremely good according to Mike, so that the VPL-HW30ES really didn’t need adjustment of individual colors. That’s not something we normally calibrate, but those individual colors is where one adjusts to adjust saturation of say, green. If a color like green is too saturated, then, even with proper grayscale balance of 6500K, you would see greens being too strong…

Sony VPL-HW30ES Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports

Most photos for this section were taken with back lighting on, and the rear window shutters partially open (shown here). Images of non-sports were normally taken with those lights still on, but the shutters closed most of the way, (and leaking only very minor light). This photo shows them in the most open position I used. That lets in quite a bit of light. Even without the overhead lights on, you could easily read a newspaper, while sitting on that couch.

My theater, with all its dark front surfaces, allows for a still rich and dynamic image with that rear ambient light. As such, I primarily watched sports and HDTV in “best” mode, I also viewed in “brightest” with its 25%+ additional lumens. “Brightest” mode isn’t bad as Mike set it up. Greens are a bit too strong (typical of “brightest” modes), but better than the default Dynamic mode. Very watchable. When I have the Sony set up in my testing room with my side and rear surfaces about 50% off-white, that room more closely resembles a family room, in operation. In that type of environment I switched to “brightest” mode, when allowing some ambient light. Images below, with the History channel markings were taken with the shutters closed more than the football shots, but still letting in real ambient light.