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Sony VPL-HW30ES review

John Archer



  • Recommended by TR


Our Score



  • Good all-round picture quality
  • Much reduced crosstalk
  • Great value
  • Runs quietly


  • no 12v trigger output
  • Still residual crosstalk in very specific circumstances
  • Side-mounted AV inputs

Review Price £2,995.00

Key Features: Full HD SXRD projector; Active 3D playback; 240Hz playback; Dynamic lamp technology; 70,000:1 contrast ratio

Manufacturer: Sony

While the arrival of 3D has delivered its fair share of AV disappointments, none have felt keener than Sony’s VPL-VW90ES. This premium-priced (£5k plus) 3D projector had looked great in demos we’d seen at various shows, but the final sample that arrived in our test room suffered extensively with 3D crosstalk noise. It was a damn shame.

Perhaps stung by the fairly widespread criticism of the VW90ES, Sony has gone into overdrive to put things right with its new VPL-HW30ES. For a start - and most importantly given how competitive things are suddenly getting in the 3D projection arena - the HW30ES is much cheaper than the VW90ES. We’ve found it for under three grand, in fact, crucially making it cheaper than the JVC X3, and putting it in the same price ballpark as the upcoming Panasonic PT-AT5000 (though bear in mind that the 3D transmitter and 3D glasses aren't included as standard; you'll need to add around £200 for a package of a transmitter plus two glasses.)

Next on the improvements list is the development of a new fast-response SXRD chipset that can be driven at 240Hz - a super-fast refresh rate with the potential to knock crosstalk on the head provided it syncs up with the glasses OK.

The faster-driven chipset isn’t the only innovation Sony has introduced for the HW30ES’s 3D playback, either. There’s also new Dynamic Lamp Control technology, whereby the lamp can adjust its light output depending on whether the shutter on the glasses is open or closed. As in, when the shutter is open the lamp power is boosted, and when the shutter is closed, the lamp power is reduced. This should lead to 3D images looking brighter and more dynamic, without making the projector less efficient overall.


This is actually pretty impressive technology when you think about just how fast the lamp’s brightness output is having to adjust to keep up with the shuttering of the glasses. Finding a way of keeping the lamp stable under such circumstances couldn’t have been easy.

The HW30ES’s design is attractive. It has essentially the same aesthetically-pleasing elliptical body shape as all the other SXRD projectors we’ve seen from Sony, and sports a rich, glossy black finish. The only thing about its design we don’t like so much is the placement of all its connections down the side, rather than on its rear. This will potentially make cable management much trickier for anyone wanting to set the projector up in a permanent installation, especially if you’re thinking of ceiling mounting it.

The roster of connections meets our basic expectations. There are two v1.4 HDMIs, a component video input, a D-Sub PC port, an RS-232 hard remote port, an IR extender port, and a Ethernet port, which is where you connect the projector’s 3D transmitter. We’ll go into this more in a moment, but in the meantime the only negative comment we have about the HW30ES’s connections is that they don’t include a 12V trigger output. Panasonic’s upcoming AT5000, by comparison, will have two 12V trigger ports, as well as an extra HDMI.

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November 20, 2013, 9:58 pm

I purchased a projector less than a year ago and while great picture for the money, is already giving me problems. It has a terrible flickering that makes it impossible to watch tv/movies. It is still under warranty, however, getting Sony to do anything isn't worth the trouble. Especially with the kind of money involved with projectors.

I had called a month ago to schedule repair as the product is still under warranty, I spoke to a lady who walked me through the tests to try and find out if it was something that could be fixed over the phone and it was determined that the issue was going to require repair by a professional. I was given a Case Number as well as a phone number to a local repair shop that would be doing the repairs. She said that a lot of times they take a while to call and that I may get faster service if I called them myself toschedule the appointment. Long story short, I got tied up and frankly forgot about it, but when I finally remembered and called Sony back to find out why nobody called me to schedule a repair they said that they had no record of anyone telling me that, and that I would have to send the projector in to get fixed that there was no repair shop anywhere in the state of Tennessee. Upon further Google review, I found multiple "Sony Authorized/Certified" repair shops in Tennessee. Basically telling me that I was making this up. When I asked why I was originally told that there was a repair shop locally, and given the number to said repair shop, I was told that they had no record of it. Insane. In no way should I have to pay someone to come out and take apart a theater that I had professionally installed, then mail in a projector possibly further damaging all the delicate parts by our great postal service, and then having to call another installer to come and put it all back together again. When I confronted them about not having anyone in the state to repair they said that the only people that they have repair TV's and not projectors. I know for a fact that the place I purchased it from is a certified Sony dealer and they also have repair men that work on projectors. Even after filing a complaint they are still not willing to stand by what was originally said by the first lady I spoke with and send someone out here. They can't explain to me why I was told that in the first place. Just keep saying that there's no record of that conversation. Then on top of that, the people I spoke to after the original lady wouldn't even let me get a word in edgewise. They kept trying to talk over me. Just completely unprofessional. Especially for a company such as Sony. So even if the product were to last you longer than a year, believe me when I say, you do not want to have to deal with Sony's customer service. They will do NOTHING to try and resolve my problem. All they keep telling me is to mail it in which I refuse to do because of obvious reasons.

I've always been a loyal Sony customer. I have over $10k invested in Sony products in my home. I will never buy another Sony product after this and I suggest no one else does that cares about receiving good customer service or wanting a company to go above and beyond to do whats right. They'res many other companies out there with great customer service. Don't waste your time with Sony.

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