Projector Reviews

Sony VPL-HW65ES Projector – Summary 2

SONY VPL-HW65ES PROJECTOR:  SUMMARY PAGE 2:  Picture Quality summary, This Sony – in your room, Bottom line

VPL-HW65ES Picture Quality

Projector Reviews Hot Product AwardI’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.

I don’t think you will find a projector that calibrates any better than this Sony, or needs it less, 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.  There are so many modes and options that there must be 10’s of thousands of combinations.

My favorite picture enhancement feature of those offered by this Sony, is Reality Creation, which is 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 typically look as crisp as those DLPs and likely with far less visible noise.  Go higher for some content.  50 is definitely reasonable for my football viewing, even if you sometimes notice it (as a type of over sharpening)  on certain football field surfaces.

Sony’s CFI – creative frame interpolation – is also very good.  I’m a person who doesn’t use CFI normally, except for sports viewing (when I normally do have it on).  Still, the Low setting on Motion Enhancer (their name for CFI) does a good job of smoothing without being over the top for most movie viewing.  There’s still some “soap opera” effect, but it is relatively minimal.  Despite that I still prefer natural 24fps.

The Sony VPL-HW65ES In Your Room - Screens and more

With a good screen like the Stewart Studiotek 130 that I use, (it’s a screen with modest 1.3 gain), a 150″ diagonal screen easily doable, if you have the right room!   Even 200″ wouldn’t be out of the question if you had the room for a screen that big.  When watching widescreen movies on my screen that is 124″ diagonal I normally stay in full power mode, but even Low Power mode (a drop of over 1/3rd the lumens) I find acceptable at that size.

In a proper theater white surface or light HC gray screens make sense.  If you are placing the HW65ES in more of a media room with lighter wall surfaces, or a little ambient light, I would recommend one of today’s ALR (ambient light rejecting) screens), such as the Screen Innovations Black Diamond or Slate models.  I use a Slate for my 2nd projector that is mounted in my bright living room.

3D brightness is, of course a bit more challenging, but as I said on the previous page, I can watch 3D at that size, but prefer a bit smaller (say 110″ diagonal), and I would use Bright Cinema in 3D, rather than the calibrated Reference mode which sits in User.

Sony VPL-HW65ES: The Bottom Line

If the Sony VPL-HW65ES fits nicely into your budget, you are due for a real treat.  Overall, as I have said earlier, it’s my favorite, so far, in the price range.  It’s the brightest projector calibrated, so the one best capable of large screens while having a great image, and it offers overall picture quality at its price that can’t be beat.

The 3 year warranty is about as long as you can find and better than most (but not all) of the competition.

Speaking of the competition…

I will repeat some of my recommendations from last year…Compared to the Epson Home Cinema 5030UB (one of my all time favorites), this Sony I believe provides a roughly comparable value but for more money.  It is over $1000 more but you do get most of that back in terms of more calibrated lumens (but less bright ones).  If your budget is tight, I generally recommend that the Epson will make more sense, but if the HW65ES is within your reach, I say go for it.  That’s how I see it – if price is not a factor, I would pick the Sony over the 5030UB myself.

We haven’t reviewed the new JVCs yet, which do cost a bit more.  That JVC will have the advantage in terms of black levels, but based on my review of last year’s similar RS4910, the Sony wins at most everything else.  The one exception is that the new JVC while still 1080p, can accept 4K content.  That could influence your decision, but in general, I think if you really want 4K, you should hold out longer as I am, until some true 4K projectors come down to under $5000 ($9999 list is the least expensive at the moment!)

What’s 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 3000 or 4000 lumens to tackle bright 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.  Bright room projectors are available now – mostly business projectors with minor adaptations.  None are serious home theater models that can compete in a dark.

Understand, this Sony can be great in some of those living rooms, if they have some reasonable lighting control – shades on windows, etc. You can do what I did in my last home – sports during the day, but movies only at night because my window shades do leak some light.

Very bottom line:  A well balanced projector with no noticeable issues.