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Sony VPL-HW50ES - Review Summary 3

Posted on July 25, 2013 by Art Feierman

The Very Bottom Line on the VPL-HW50ES projector:

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE: Sony VPL-HW50ES "Projector Reviews TV" Video Summary

The picture - is accurate, and natural looking.  Skin tones, as a general rule, are gorgeous.

Although a bit cool, even brightest modes have a most enjoyable picture quality, that I figure looks better than almost any LCDTV, and I'm talking this Sony at its worst.  It's hard not to really revel in excellent skin tones.

Placement flexibility of the VPL-HW50ES projector is really good with 1.6:1 zoom and a good amount of lens shift. Lens shift has a little more range than last year's HW30ES, which already had very respectable range.

For your $3999 MSRP (with glasses and spare lamp), you get a projector that in most areas rivals (and in the case of Reality Creation, and some 3D) exceeds Sony's (now $2000+) more expensive VPL-VW95ES.  On the other hand, I still consider the VPL-VW95ES the superior projector to own.  It still has noticeably better blacks, which is to say truly exceptional back level performance.  The 95 also can do Lens Memory, and has more flexibility, but ultimately, while it may be more of a purist's projector, I have to concede that the HW50ES delivers more price performance.  More bang for the dollars you spend!

This is a projector that works best in a home theater environment, but can double in a light controlled family room as well. It's definitely more value than last year's VPL-HW30ES, and can easily take on the likes of the Sharp XV-Z13000, and the Optoma HD8300. It's early in this home theater season, so there are more new competitors yet to review. Still, the Sony VPL-HW50ES is definitely a top choice out there, especially when you consider how much more you will have to spent to get incremental improvements in picture quality.

Sony VPL-HW50ES Projector: Pros

  • One of the brighter 3D capable projectors under $5000
  • Almost 1000 lumens in "best" mode, no problem, even with large screens (ie: 10+ feet wide)
  • Excellent overall color, and skin tones
  • Lots of preset image modes
  • Calibrates beautifully for really good color handling, natural look
  • Good shadow detail, really good black levels
  • Very good placement flexibility
  • HDMI 1.4a inputs (2) allows for support for Blu-ray 3D content
  • 3D glasses provided (2 pair)
  • Very good CFI (motion smoothing) MotionFlow
  • Reality Creation really raises the bar for dynamic sharpening and detail enhancement
  • Get extra brightness in 3D with glasses control (but more image noise)
  • Excellent warranty
  • Fairly quiet, even at full power
  • Really good remote control
  • Near black finish works well in dedicated theaters
  • Very good menu layout, very good manual
  • Price performance

Sony VPL-HW50ES Projector: Cons

  • Lacks lens memory for the small slice of people who would prefer a 2.35:1 screen instead of the standard 16:9 screens
  • Others offer lamps with longer claimed life, so you have a higher cost of operation
  • I still don't like the Reset button where it is on the remote control
  • Could use a third HDMI input, could offer wireless HDMI... (and other wish list items)
  • And of course, this projector could be brighter - I'm thinking primarily for 3D, but also for non-theater placement
  • Lens shift controls a little stiff, not real smooth (picky, picky)
  • Sony need new, more comfortable, lighter weight 3D glasses. These just don't cut it anymore!

Sony VPL-HW50ES Projector: Typical Capabilities

  • Brightest mode brightness - "BrightTV and Bright Cinema", only a little brighter than average (although exceptional color for "brightest modes")
  • Size and weight of projectors in its class
  • Variety of inputs

I've already added the VPL-HW50ES onto my short list of favorite home projectors.

I'd ask Sony to leave this HW50ES with me for the next year, but truth is, as great as that would be, I'm really trying to leverage a really long look at their $25K flagship VW1000ES instead.

Excellent projector! And it would seem to be an equally good value.

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