Projector Reviews

Sony VPL-HW45ES Projector Special Features

SONY VPL-HW45ES SPECIAL FEATURES: Reality Creation, Panel Alignment, 3D, and Input Lag  for Gaming!


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 may be the smartest of programs designed to increase the perceived details, crispness and pop of the image.  They all work somewhat differently, so others also have strengths.

The comparison images above are from the older HW40ES which behaves the same, in this regard.

When I say it is most impressive, keep in mind that Reality Creation is software – ok, really firmware.  It is not hardware as well.  Companies like Epson and JVC, on more expensive projectors (at least 50% more), have their own firmware equivalents, but they use those in conjunction with pixel shifting, for some additional benefits we won’t get into here since those others don’t compete price wise.  Those are discussed in other, relevant reviews.

For example, Reality Creation 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 a bit hyper-critical, whereas the average LCD TV owner, I’m sure would be fine with it.

I consider Reality Creation a significant strength of the VPL-HW45ES.  This Sony’s got panel alignment, but that’s never a perfect solution for these 3 panel (chip) projectors.  The panel alignment isn’t as advanced as some more expensive Sonys, btw.

Still, the Reality Creation, set properly for the type of content you are watching, can easily make you think it sharper than a typical single chip DLP.  Lastly, although they all work differently, I find Reality Creation to be more effective than JVC’s E-shift, or Epson’s Super-Resolution.  Epson’s Super-Res, will end up having you think it’s a sharper image, but it picks up some hardness in doing so.  The Sony is just more natural looking in that regard.  (On some content I do favor the Epson, on other content, the Sony…).  With those more expensive JVCs and Epsons, I again remind you that they have more than just their firmware, they have pixel shifting they can engage to further up the perceived detail and sharpness, so all considered, those pricy alternatives do have the advantage.

Panel Alignment

Sony’s panel alignment program is effective, although not as capable as on higher end Sonys.

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

The difference compared to Sony’s higher end projectors is that with the VW series (the more expensive ones), after a general alignment, as described, you can go in and further fine tune by aligning different “quadrants” of the screen.

3D Performance

No surprise, the 3D on this Sony VPL-HW45ES is really good, for a 3 panel device.  Crosstalk is minor, varying depending on content (some content has crosstalk already in it).

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. The HW45ES has enough brightness in 3D to do a very respectable job on my 1.3 gain Stewart Studiotek 130. At my full 124″ diagonal, though, I start feeling like I want brighter, but is still “reasonably” bright.

I’m definitely not a fan of dim, especially 3D.  I keep my cineplex viewing of 3D to IMAX 3D theaters, as generally I’ve found them brighter than the smaller screens. At 124″ diagonal I do have friends who would definitely complain “not bright enough.”  Of course if that’s something you are worried about, your choice of screen can help out.

Consider for example, the 4000 lumen Epson HC1440 which is slightly less expensive.  It has brightness to spare, for my 124″ screen.  That’s great, but the Epson is a “bright room” projector.  It’s not a match for the Sony in black levels, and several other areas.  It’s really home entertainment, this is home theater that can double as home entertainment in a respectable room!

Bottom Line:  The 3D picture quality works for me. This Sony HW45ES not only has sufficient brightness, but the color is particularly good in 3D.

Sony VPL-HW45ES Input Lag - for Gaming

The Sony HW45ES has got Game!   As is normal before testing for input lag, I turned off any features I considered “forward looking.”  That is, features that have to “see” the next frame or beyond, in order to work, because those inherently increase the lag time.  A great example is CFI – smooth motion.

Not everything I turned off, probably has to be turned off.  I shut down CFI, Reality Creation, and engaged the Input Lag Reduction feature.

Voila’!   Using my Leo Bodnar input lag testing device, I recorded input lag right around 24ms. (mostly the readout flickers between about 23.5 and mid 24ms.)  Let’s call it 24ms, which is really good.  That’s a delay of less than 1 frame on 30fps games, and between 1 and 2 with 60fps games.  We consider 50ms acceptable to most.  the 30-33 ms range (about 1/30 of a second (one frame back at 30 fps) to be good, and fine for all but the hard core gamers – the type that go out and buy multi thousand dollar gaming computers, and very expensive gaming monitors with virtually 0 lag.

In other words, gamers – this Sony’s a keeper, so break out your COD, Legends, auto-racing, and have a blast!