Projector Reviews

Sony VPL-The VPL-HW45ES Projector – Hardware Features and Tour

Sony VPL-HW45ES PROJECTOR:  HARDWARE FEATURES AND TOUR:  Overview and Front, Lens Controls, Control Panel, Inputs and Connectors

VPL-HW45ES Projector: Overview - From the Front

Shiny (almost) black projectors are tough to photograph, so to make things easier, I’m mostly using Sony’s professional images.  They just look better.  My life would have been simpler if they had sent me a white one instead.

Sony’s 1.6:1 manual zoom lens is center mounted and recessed.  Part of the intake and exhaust vents are on partially on the front and on the side at the front.  Down below  are two very small screw thread adjustable feet, for those placing the projector on a table.  The only other feature on the front of the VPL-HW45ES is the infra-red sensor for the remote control.  That (if you are facing the projector), is on the right, near the bottom, recessed as well, so not easy to spot.  Other than the sensor, and the glass of the lens, the front of the projector is flat black (really dark gray), so as not to reflect light from the screen, back to the screen.  The top of the projector is curved, and a nice shiny black, although when sunlight enters my room, it seems to have a slight bluish tint (very dark)!

Overall, the Sony is a moderately large projector in size, very nicely sculpted, weighing in at 20 lb (19.8 lb, 9kg, on some data sheets).  That’s just a slight bit less than the older Sony which was about 21 pounds (9.4kg.) Let’s take a closer look.

All the lens controls are located on the top, more on that shortly.   Again, if you are facing the front of the Sony projector, you would find that the control panel and the inputs are all located on the left side.

Lens Controls - Sony VPL-HW45ES

This is a closeup photo of the lens and lens shift controls shooting down from the top.

You can see the case flaring out, to create the recess for the lens.  Rotating the outer (front) ring of the lens handles the manual focus.

There’s a notch on the inner ring for adjusting the 1.6:1 zoom lens.  Both controls are very smooth, and solid feeling, better than most projectors.

Right behind the lens, you can see the two lens shift rings.  The one on the left, in the photo, is the vertical, while the other handles horizontal lens shift.   As I’ve written too many times, vertical and horizontal lens shift controls work in tandem.  If you use maximum vertical shift, there’s no horizontal available, and vice versa.  The less vertical shift you use, the more horizontal is available, etc.

Click Image to Enlarge

Control Panel: VPL-HW45ES

This Sony projector has the same layout as previous generations of Sony HW series projectors.   It sports a tiny control panel, and the inputs and other connectors are also there, below the panel.


Let’s start with the “mini” control panel.  If you start closest to the front the first button is the power (press once for on twice to power down).


Sony’s HW45ES “mini” control panel is located on the side of the projector. The limited selection of inputs and connectors are below

The next button (small) is the input selector.

The third button is Menu, and brings up the main menu.

To navigate the menus, the fourth “button” is really a tiny joystick/diskpad.  Moving the center part up, down, left, right, allows you to navigate the menu system.

Clicking on this side image of the Sony HW45ES projector, will allow you to see all the buttons and connectors more easily.

Inputs and Connectors: Sony HW45ES Projector

We start closest to the rear of the Sony.  First is the power cord receptacle.  Sony has a lot less connectors on it than older HW series projectors as there’s less need today for “old school” connectors such as composite video or S-video, or even a traditional analog computer input.

HW45ES inputs
Side view of VPL-HW45ES – showing inputs and connectors

Power is followed by USB port.  A pair of HDMI inputs  are the primary two inputs, and come next.   That’s pretty standard stuff.  Neither HDMI supports MHL for mobile devices.

The HW45ES’s inputs and connectors are below the control panel. Sony has gone “minimalistic” relying primarily on two HDMI inputs

Then comes an RS-232 serial port for old school “command and control.”

That’s followed by a small connector for the remote control, in case your setup needs the remote hard wired, instead of using the infra-red.  Lastly there’s a 12 volt trigger.

The VPL-HW45ES lacks any analog computer input, component video or composite video inputs.  With the right setup though, analog computer and component can be brought in through the HDMI.  If you have a specific need for any of those and already need your HDMI ports for other devices, you’ll need an external switch box to ultimately output those signals to the Sony.  Plan B is to use an AV receiver equipped plenty of inputs and switching!  Also, as a real “home theater” projector – not a home entertainment one, there’s no speaker built in, and therefore no audio inputs or outputs, which makes sense therefore to not have MHL. If you are streaming content from YouTube, into the HW45ES via HDMI, there will be sound that you can’t play. If you have a recent AV receiver, it will most likely support MHL, and therefor route any audio to whatever sound system is attached to your receiver.