There’s no denying that the HW55ES is not as blisteringly accomplished with 3D as it is with 2D. The main reason for this is that despite the dynamic lamp control system, crosstalk ghosting interference remains clearly and regularly visible over sharply contrasting background objects.
You can, to be fair, greatly reduce the obviousness of the crosstalk if you track down the 3D Glasses Brightness setting in the projector’s menus and switch it from its default Max setting to its Min level. But you don’t have to be Albert Einstein to figure out that this approach also takes a serious amount of the lovely brightness and contrast out of the HW55ES’s 3D pictures, so it isn’t a particularly compelling option.
You can, of course, opt for a mid brightness setting for the glasses that reduces crosstalk without leaving pictures looking aggravatingly dim. But really, of course, the best solution here would have been to have just somehow got rid of crosstalk altogether.
The crosstalk problem isn’t severe enough, thankfully, to stop the HW55ES’s 3D picture quality from being watchable. After all, detail levels are very high thanks to the full HD active shutter system, motion is surprisingly judder-free, colours and brightness levels looks excellent by active 3D standards, and the sense of depth is consistently and effectively rendered. So the crosstalk is more a fly in the ointment rather than a 3D deal breaker.
We mentioned earlier that we generally felt unexpectedly content to run the HW55ES on its high lamp setting. Part of our reasoning behind this was the extra punch pictures get from using the high lamp mode without black levels being heavily compromised. But there’s another key reason too: Sony’s fantastic cooling system. Yhe HW55ES runs more quietly with its lamp on full than most projectors run with their lamps on low. Excellent.
Anyone who’s ever gamed on a projector will know what a brilliant difference playing at such a scale can make to your immersion in a quality gaming world. So it’s a touch disappointing to find the HW55ES measuring around 60ms of input lat when ideally for gaming we'd be looking at no more than 30ms.
The £3000-ish projection space is extremely competitive. You’ve got the JVC DLA-X35 with its almost unbelievably rich and stable black level response, and a couple of strong LCD-based competitors in the shape of the Panasonic AT6000E and Epson EH-TW9100.
However, for us the HW55ES outperforms all of these rivals, thanks to the way it manages to combine its excellent black levels with a seriously potent amount of light output. It will be interesting to see if imminent new models from Epson and JVC manage to give the HW55ES a run for its money, but at the time of writing we consider the HW55ES the sub-£3k projection king.
If you can’t rustle up the £8,800 required for Sony’s revolutionary VPL-VW500ES 4K projector, then you can bag yourself an HW55ES safe in the knowledge that it seems to have benefitted greatly from the R&D that’s gone into its ‘bigger brother’, resulting in some seriously great picture quality for its money.