Sony VPL-HW50ES SXRD 3D Projector Review

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Reviewed by Stephen Withers, 10th November 2012. The VPL-HW50ES possesses all the strengths we have come to expect from Sony, it has the well-engineered looks, the great build quality and the impressive performance. It isn't perfect but our complaints are minor and at this price point, it really should be on anyone's short list - Highly Recommended.
Read the full review...
 

jagdeepp

Banned
Interesting review. Just to confirm Steve, this projector is NOT Anamporphic lens friendly? Some reviews online suggest there is an anamorphic stretch function on the PJ.. Thats a single 'must' feature for me. I guess the alternative is a video scaler?

Excellent black levels, very decent 3d, around 1000 lumens calibrated. It seems to tick most boxes so long as I can avoid that fiddly and messy set of focus/zoom/shift controls.
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
Just to confirm Steve, this projector is NOT Anamporphic lens friendly? Some reviews online suggest there is an anamorphic stretch function on the PJ.. Thats a single 'must' feature for me. I guess the alternative is a video scaler?
Yes Jagdeepp, it DOES have a anamorphic stretch mode, sorry my mistake, I've updated the review accordingly.
 

jagdeepp

Banned
Yes Jagdeepp, it DOES have a anamorphic stretch mode, sorry my mistake, I've updated the review accordingly.
Thanks for your swift response Steve! :thumbsup:
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
All part of the service Jagdeepp :)
 

Jazz Monkey Jr

Distinguished Member
Thanks for another great review. :smashin:
How does it compare to a JVC X30 in terms of black level/contrast/sharpness?
There may be a few looking to upgrade to around the £3000 price point and want to know of its worth the outlay for this model?
Thanks.
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
N
How does it compare to a JVC X30 in terms of black level/contrast/sharpness?
There may be a few looking to upgrade to around the £3000 price point and want to know of its worth the outlay for this model?
There's no difference in terms of sharpness but the X30 has better blacks and contrast ratio, which is a JVC strong point. The JVC also has motorised lens controls and a lens memory function, if that's important to you. However the HW50 is brighter and definitely better when it comes to 3D. It also has a more accurate out-of-the-box setting and a colour management system. So both have their strengths and weaknesses, so as always I'd strongly recommend demoing them before you part with three grand.
 

soupdragon

Distinguished Member
Thanks for the review Steve - this looks like another nice projector from Sony and great value too. Its a pity they haven't motorised lens controls which they only put in their VW range, especially since their direct rivals from Panasonic and JVC are doing it at the same price point.
They have done a great job with their out of the box settings and many people who will just 'plug and play' their projector will know they are getting quite an accurate image straight off so kudos to Sony for putting the effort in to get this right.
Like you say, the extra brightness will also let people use this is a non dedicated room and still get nice images in both 2D and 3D. Personally, in my dedicated room, the extra brightness would allow me to increase my screen size and still use a 1.0 gain screen which is why I am considering buying this.

As for reality creation, I've been reading a bit about this and there is mixed views of people who like it and others who don't. I think it something I want to see for myself as I've only seen screenshots of it and while screenshots help, they obviously can't show you the moving pictures. It appears that reality creation creates wonderfully sharp pictures but with side effects such as increased noise in the image. I don't like noise and even the natural film grain in some movies annoys me at times so I'm not sure how usable reality creation would be to me. You mentioned the Darbee and I actually like the Darbee. When it comes to the image, I like accurate colour representation and would be quite fussy about that but at the same time, I'm not adverse to a bit of alteration of the original disc content when it comes to processing such as Darbee and reality creation. I guess my question is this - how usable do you think reality creation would be to someone who doesn't mind this type of processing? Do the side effects actually make the picture worse in your opinion, or is it just because your not keen on the overall effect it has?
 

Tokoloshe

Active Member
Helpful and timely review. :smashin:

Any measurements for Input Lag, using the various picture presets?

Being an SXRD unit, would the motion handling issues be more or less pronounced whilst gaming?

Thanks.
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
Great review thanks Steve. :thumbsup: I was considering this over the X35 but I've got used to remote control zoom and focus (and in fact would like lens memory too), so the picture and black level would have to be very special to make me give this up.

The other issue that reading between the lines, I get the impression that the black level/dark scene performance still isn't as good as the JVC? The contrast figures even with the iris closed down are less than my HD350 was measured at (by Cine4home), let alone the higher on/off as they measured for the X30. I know the dynamic iris helps increase the reading, so presume you haven't used this?

I'm hoping to see one for myself soon, compared to a JVC so I'll be able to make up my own mind so we'll see how I get on, thanks for the review in the meantime. :thumbsup:
 

zombie10k

Novice Member
Helpful and timely review. :smashin:

Any measurements for Input Lag, using the various picture presets?

Thanks.
Hi, I measured the HW50 @ 30ms in the gaming mode, same as the HW30 last year.

I agree with much of what was said in the review. IMO, the HW50 is a nice improvement over the HW30 from last year. The RC takes some adjusting, it's a little too much out of the box. In 2D, I lower the resolution setting to 'minimum' and turn on the MPEG controls to LOW. This does a great job of increasing the perceived sharpness and keeping the noise under control with movies that have grain.

In 3D, the RC resolution is set to 50. I prefer to turn this down to 30.

I don't think the RC is the same as the Darbee, they are both different processing techniques. The Darbee enhances certain areas of contrast whereas the RC is more of an actual sharpening technique that is more obvious at first glance than the Darbee changes. The 2 work well together in moderation (RC = minimum, Darbee @ 30%).

The 3D is also very good on this model. very minimal ghosting, even in the tough scenes. I measured ~1064 lumens at shortest throw.

I just calibrated the HW50 tonight in 3D mode 'through the glasses' - colors look natural even with the glasses. Overall a well balances 2D/3D projector for the $$.

I'm curious to see how it performs compared to the upcoming X55/RS4810.
 

Jazz Monkey Jr

Distinguished Member
Steve Withers said:
N

There's no difference in terms of sharpness but the X30 has better blacks and contrast ratio, which is a JVC strong point. The JVC also has motorised lens controls and a lens memory function, if that's important to you. However the HW50 is brighter and definitely better when it comes to 3D. It also has a more accurate out-of-the-box setting and a colour management system. So both have their strengths and weaknesses, so as always I'd strongly recommend demoing them before you part with three grand.
Thanks for the reply.
I wanted memory function due to my scope screen and got a X30 for £1800 so looks like I made the right choice so far.
My room isn't ideal but I'd rather try and improve that with some Devore material around the front of the room.
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
I know the dynamic iris helps increase the reading, so presume you haven't used this?
As I mention in the review, the dynamic iris will help improve the perceived black levels and contrast ratio but at the expense of details in shadows and peak whites.
 

s_inman

Well-known Member
All this is making me think the JVC may be a better choice for my room.. Looking forward to a demo anyway.
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
As for reality creation, I've been reading a bit about this and there is mixed views of people who like it and others who don't. I think it something I want to see for myself as I've only seen screenshots of it and while screenshots help, they obviously can't show you the moving pictures. It appears that reality creation creates wonderfully sharp pictures but with side effects such as increased noise in the image. I don't like noise and even the natural film grain in some movies annoys me at times so I'm not sure how usable reality creation would be to me. You mentioned the Darbee and I actually like the Darbee. When it comes to the image, I like accurate colour representation and would be quite fussy about that but at the same time, I'm not adverse to a bit of alteration of the original disc content when it comes to processing such as Darbee and reality creation. I guess my question is this - how usable do you think reality creation would be to someone who doesn't mind this type of processing? Do the side effects actually make the picture worse in your opinion, or is it just because your not keen on the overall effect it has?
The RC takes some adjusting, it's a little too much out of the box. In 2D, I lower the resolution setting to 'minimum' and turn on the MPEG controls to LOW. This does a great job of increasing the perceived sharpness and keeping the noise under control with movies that have grain.

In 3D, the RC resolution is set to 50. I prefer to turn this down to 30.

I don't think the RC is the same as the Darbee, they are both different processing techniques. The Darbee enhances certain areas of contrast whereas the RC is more of an actual sharpening technique that is more obvious at first glance than the Darbee changes. The 2 work well together in moderation (RC = minimum, Darbee @ 30%).
Reality Creation is certainly an advanced sharpening tool but I also think it is adjusting contrast dynamically at a pixel level, although Sony's actual explanation of the technology is long on marketing gibberish and short on real information. As zombie10k points out, it also worth experimenting with RC but ultimately it is like the Darbee in the sense that you either like the effect or don't and it's really a matter of personal preference. The best solution is to go along to a dealer with some Blu-rays that you're familiar with and see for yourself.
 
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Steve Withers

Reviewer
All this is making me think the JVC may be a better choice for my room.. Looking forward to a demo anyway.
We're lucky that there are so many great projectors at this price point - the Sony VPL-HW50, the Panasonic PT-AT6000 and the JVC DLA-X35 - but it does make choosing one difficult. Deciding what factors are important to you and then demoing them with familiar material is the best approach.

The review of the Panasonic will be up in a couple of days and we should have the X35 reviewed in the next month.
 

s_inman

Well-known Member
Steve Withers said:
We're lucky that there are so many great projectors at this price point - the Sony VPL-HW50, the Panasonic PT-AT6000 and the JVC DLA-X35 - but it does make choosing one difficult. Deciding what factors are important to you and then demoing them with familiar material is the best approach.

The review of the Panasonic will be up in a couple of days and we should have the X35 reviewed in the next month.
Thanks Steve,

My room is a complete batcave with zero ambient light hence black level is paramount for me.. Having said that I do not have an external CMS and I'm fairly unhappy with the colour performance of my current HD350 hence why the Sony was fairly high up in my next projector list.

Looking forward to the other reviews.
 

Graham

Well-known Member
Great review, thanks for the info. Also refreshing that Sony seem to have resisted the frustrating $/£ price ratio to a greater degree than some of the other new units coming out.
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
Sony have been fairly aggressive in their pricing this year, which is good to see.
 

Graham

Well-known Member
Hi Steve

I know you're no fan of interpolation but on the avsforums people have praised both the HW50 & HW30 for the motionflow system when set to 'Low' (I think especially with dark frame insertion turned off), as it is very subtle in terms of the'soap opera' effect and also improves the motion issues you've described in your excellent review. Can I just ask if you tried it on the low setting?

Many thanks
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
I know you're no fan of interpolation but on the avsforums people have praised both the HW50 & HW30 for the motionflow system when set to 'Low' (I think especially with dark frame insertion turned off), as it is very subtle in terms of the'soap opera' effect and also improves the motion issues you've described in your excellent review. Can I just ask if you tried it on the low setting?
Yes I tried all the settings and as I said in the review, there is some justification for using Motionflow on fast moving content shot on video, such as sports. As always whether or not you use Motionflow is a matter of preference but personally I find any form of frame interpolation to be unacceptable on film based content, no matter how subtle.
 

Steve Stifler

Well-known Member
Steve - thanks another excellent review. Having witnessed the HW50 at the Sony event, this article bears out what I saw and the impression I came away with. The addition of the detailed pre/post calibration results are highly informative as always. Depending on the room environment, IMHO choice of screen size/material will be important for those buying the Sony.

This looks like a very good pj, but personally, I'll stick to my X30.

Well now let's wait and see what the Panny and X35 reviews bring. What a run up to Christmas!
 

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