I'm sold on the picture the Sony puts on the screen. It's accurate, it's natural, it's believable. When it comes to that subjective description "film-like", there are many folk that might say DLP projectors are more film-like, but that's almost besides the point in this case, because there really isn't much to choose from in DLP's that can compete in general. Oh, there are some outstanding, but far more expensive DLP projectors, but there's little to consider around $3500 that measure up.
The VPL-HW55ES is available in the US, only in the dark finish
I don't think you will find a projector that calibrates any better than this Sony, so accuracy isn't an issue. There's plenty to tweak, if you prefer, such as lots of gamma modes. In fact this is an exceptionally fun projector, if you like to fiddle, and see what everything does.
My favorite picture enhancement feature is definitely Reality Creation, Sony's dynamic detail enhancement control. It lets you go from Off (which would be the most film-like, and the softest image), to varying levels of crispness and perceived sharpness increases. It's well behaved, and the most effective I've seen. Old style sharpness controls are just a disaster by comparison. LCoS projectors are oft accused of being too soft compared to single chip DLP projectors. Put up a setting of 20 on Reality Creation, and it will look as crisp as those DLP's and likely with far less visible noise. Go higher for some content. 50 is reasonable for my football viewing!
I'm not putting down Sony's implementation of two other features in particular, CFI and the Dynamic iris, both which work very well. But, I consider a dynamic iris (JVC excepted) to be essential these days. Sony's CFI for smooth motion is very good. on Low some you can watch a movie, although I rarely will. Even High seems relatively free of artifacts around the "fast moving objects."
Is there anything not to like? I find only two significant things worthy of noting here, and neither is a flaw. First, if you are one who wants to go widescreen, there's no lens memory, and it doesn't make sense to most, to go anamorphic lens at this price point. That will eliminate a small group of potential owners.
The only other thing would be brightness in a family/living/bonus room, or other room where ambient light isn't fully controlled. That is to say, it would be great if it had 2500 or 3000 or more lumens to tackle such rooms. But I'm mentioning something where there's no really great alternative. Short of five figure 3 chip DLP projectors, you won't find any projectors around this picture quality or better, that can even double this projector's usable brightness.
One thing I really like about this Sony: It is truly equally at home as a projector for viewing movies in the dark, and viewing HDTV, and especially sports, in brighter circumstances!
In this Sony's price range range, there are 2 or 3 other excellent "short list" projectors , and your situation certainly may make one of those your best choice. For example, in a family room, you may decide you really do need maximum lumens in brightest mode for daytime viewing. That said, I'll put this one at the top of my own short list, just above the somewhat less expensive Epson UB projectors (my close 2nd), and JVC's X35, which I also like but prefer the Sony for several reasons discussed on the Comparison page (competitors).
The HW55ES may not be all new for this year, but the improvements do add up to an even better projector, a tougher competitor, and better value than last year's version. Tastefully done!