Sony's lastest 2K Projector, the VPL-HW55ES comes in white or gray/black finish
Wow! The VPL-HW55ES almost escaped my notice at CEDIA. I am fixated with the new 4K projectors which were both being demo'd in blacked out rooms, so almost overlooked that Sony is also launching the VPL-HW55ES to replace the older HW50ES. I even failed to mention the VPL-HW55ES projector in my audio tweets.
So, let's see what Sony's newest 2K - 1080p projector brings to your home theater.
A quick look at the photo and it obviously closely resembles the projector it's replacing.
It's changes under the hood that differentiates the two of them.
As expected the Sony VPL-HW55ES is an evolutionary projector. It still looks and cooks like last year's but with a lot of improvements in multiple areas.
Although the cost remains the same with an MSRP of $3999 (but bundled with IR (infra-red) type 3D glasses and a spare lamp), a major improvement in lamp life to 5000 hours in "eco-mode" is a significant improvement, that will help keep operational costs down. But it's the picture we really care about.
The obvious change in specs is contrast, now 120,000:1. Look for just slightly better blacks in a projector that already was great for the price. Contrast spec is up from 100,000:1 so don't expect a dramatic difference, but that should help it compete even better against JVC's DLA-X35 and DLA-RS46 - the same projectors sold by two different JVC divisions. JVC has new projectors but did not replace those "entry level" projectors which are direct competition.
For those of you not familiar with the older Sony, some other aspects that carry forward. The zoom lens is manual, with a 1.6:1 zoom ratio, and once again, this new Sony comes with a significant amount of vertical and horizontal lens shift. A remote is included, of course, and I'm a fan of Sony remotes.
Installing? Sony now offers a wireless HDMI solution for those not interested in opening up walls, and running wires. The IFU-WH1 is the part number of the "sender" with all the inputs, the receiver is built in the HW55ES projector.
Brightness remains at 1700 lumens claimed, which, btw, means like the older projector it should produce just about 1000 lumens calibrated!!! And there's more horsepower available in brighter modes for that sports and other viewing with some ambient light.
Sounds like 3D in particular should benefit from some of the improvements to the light engine. Also of note, although an IR transmitter for the IR glasses is built into the unit, the new HW55Es supports the lastest initiatives, so you can now buy an optional RF emitter (TMR-RF1), and new lighter RF glasses (TDG-BT500A). In every case where we've seen a projector support both the older IR and new RF configurations we have found the RF solution to be brighter, and superior overall. I would expect the same here!
You won't have to wait long. Barring unforeseen delays, the Sony VPL-HW55ES projector should be available end of this month - yes, October. Also worth noting, should your cave, theater, or other room (afterall, with 1700 lumens claimed, this is a bright projector, and it's very bright relative to most other calibrated projectors), note that the VPL-HW55ES projector is available in a white finish as well as the usual black/dark gray.
Bottom line, some new (optional) accessories that may be of use, improved 3D with the new glasses option) lower cost of operation, modest improvement in picture quality, and all for the same price. Evolution is not dead! All hail Darwin! I will of course review the VPL-HW55ES as soon as they have one for me. That should be soon enough - 3 - 4 weeks. -art