If high-quality projection with 3D capabilities are what you're after, you should buy the Sony VPL-HW55ES – a projector so quiet you'll hardly even notice it's running. This device is a one-stop-shop for movie and presentation-viewing excellence.
No automatic focus
Heavy 3D glasses
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With the launch of the Sony VPL-HW55ES, Sony has given way to a new generation of premium projector. Ideal for the home theater enthusiast or business user who wants impeccable presentation projections and 3D functionality, the VPL-HW55ES has it all in one package. Although it isn't cheap ($3,999.99, £2591.60, AU$5079.87), this device offers almost everything you could ever ask for in one device.
Sure, you could go cheaper with devices like the Epson EX7235 Pro ($599.99 USD, £385.24, AU$738.45) or the ViewSonic Pro 8600 ($2520, £1,500, AUS$2719), but these are essentially utilitarian projectors that don't offer the same complexity of projection and design quality.
If you've got the coin and the inclination, you can't go wrong with the VPL-HW55ES.
Design and specs
The Sony VPL-HW55ES isn't micro by any means. It weighs 21.1 lbs (9.6kg) and is 16 inches wide by 7 inches tall by 18 1/4 inches deep (407.4 x 179.2 x 463.9mm). Although it is larger than newer projectors hitting the market, it has an elegant design that makes it easy to carry and transport from room to room. The VPL-HW55ES I reviewed came with two optional 3D glasses, a remote, a lense cap, and an AC Cord.
The bulb in the VPL-HW55ES is a high definition 3D bulb that creates a beautiful and vibrant image. The VPL-HW55ES supports a 120,000:1 contrast ratio, can run at 240hz for improved 3D image quality, has 1700 ANSI lumen brightness, and has a life value between 2000-5000 hours. The VPL-HW55ES supports image size between 40-300 inches in diagonal projections.
The VPL-HW55ES comes with two HDMI ports, one VGA port, a Component Audio/Video port, an RF in port, and a 3D Sync port. Above the inputs sit the integrated menu and input buttons, a power button, and a joystick D-Pad for menu selection and movement. Built into Sony's VPL-HW55ES is a 3D IR transmitter that allows easy sync with 3D glasses.
The Sony VPL-HW55ES creates the most beautiful images I have ever seen from a projector. Although it could be brighter, I found it perfectly suitable for typically lit rooms and scenarios. I used the VPL-HW55ES in a room that is 16-feet wide by 14-feet deep and I found it just bright enough to watch during the day with the blinds closed. I can imagine if you were in a bigger room that the image might be a problem. But, for a medium-to-small room the Sony VPL-HW55ES is a perfect fit. In ideal scenarios, the image quality is bright, crisp and stunning.
The 3D projection is amazing, whether you are using native 3D or you are using the VPL-HW55ES to emulate 3D on a 2D movie. The emulation on the VPL-HW55ES is pretty good, though not the same, so for those looking for precision you may want to use native 3D movies when using the 3D feature.
With 240hz projection, the VPL-HW55ES is a stunning BluRay movie projector. The quality was similar to what you'd get watching a high-definition movie on a high-definition screen in a theater. I was blown away.
You would think, given all of this stellar performance, that the VPL-HW55ES would scream. You would be mistaken. The Sony VPL-HW55ES is the quietest projector I have ever used. My computer tower was markedly louder than the Sony VPL-HW55ES.
From startup to usage, this projector is incredibly intuitive to use. For starters, it is quick-to-boot and it starts up immediately. You will need to manually focus and adjust the image size and position, which is annoying, but I found the process easy enough to not slow me down very much.
Upon getting the image to start up, there are manual buttons that you can use to change the settings. Sony implemented a D-Pad-based joystick as the menu button in the VPL-HW55ES and it is quite painless to use. However, if manual on-device menu-changing is not your cup of tea, Sony has also included a handy remote for the VPL-HW55ES. Although the remote is huge for a projector ( it looks like a TV remote), the remote for the VPL-HW55ES is the smoothest remote for a projector I have used, thanks in large part to its straight-forward button labeling.