Colours in 3D mode look natural too. Also extremely impressive is how stable and fluid 3D pictures look if you engage the projector’s motion processing. Normally, of course, we wouldn’t advise that you use such motion processing, but the system in the HS30ES is remarkably good and sensitive for such an affordable machine, and we genuinely preferred to have it on (at its lowest setting, mind you) during 3D viewing.
Sony’s glasses do, it has to be said, take a fair chunk of brightness out of the picture, despite the efforts of the new dynamic lamp system. But the facility is there to boost the glasses’ brightness if you wish, and this can have quite a brightness-boosting impact at the expense of only a touch more crosstalk.
Otherwise the only negative we can report about what truly is a great return to 3D form by Sony is that there’s a slight bit of flickering over very bright 3D scenes. But you’re generally so engrossed in the mesmerising 3D effect the projector produces that you seldom feel aware of this flicker.
Putting the glasses to one side and switching over to 2D, the HW30ES continues to impress greatly. The picture’s contrast performance is very good, for a start, with surprisingly deep black levels sitting alongside rich colours and reasonably pure whites (aside from the faintest tinge of orange). There’s an excellent amount of shadow detail visible during dark scenes, too, for a projector at this level of the market.
It’s also great to find that the HW30ES’s dynamic iris works startlingly well, at least on its Auto 1 mode. It noticeably improved contrast range without suffering much at all of the flickering brightness levels that have characterised dynamic iris functionality on many previous SXRD projectors.
Personally we still stuck with a manual iris setting, but it’s great to know that if you prefer the dynamic approach, you can now use it without it causing regular distractions.
The amount of detail in the HW30ES’s image is superb as well, yet the crispness on show isn’t accompanied by excessive noise. The only noise you see is what’s there in the source.
Motion handling continues to impress as well - though in 2D, we definitely didn’t feel an urge to use the motion processing any more. You just don’t need it. And if you do call it in, while still surprisingly good at not generating unwanted side effects, it does sometimes deliver a few frames of weird image acceleration during camera pans.
One final aspect of the HW30ES’s performance we definitely need to mention is its running noise. It is practically non-existent. The symmetrical design of the projector is clearly extremely good at dispersing heat from the 1300-lumen lamp.
If you’re wondering if the HW30ES is better than JVC’s X3 projector, the answer is that no, it isn’t. Not quite. For while the Sony is arguably fractionally better at handling 3D crosstalk, the JVC’s contrast range is markedly better, especially during 2D viewing. But the JVC model is, of course, between £300 and £500 dearer than this Sony based on current pricing, which is a significant sum of money in today’s tough financial environment.
Sony has worked wonders with the HW30ES, erasing the disappointments of the VW90ES from our minds with a projector that serves up a classy, hugely watchable and best of all impressively affordable big-screen 3D - and 2D - feast.