Sony VPL-HW30ES review

Tom Morgan
27 Oct 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

Cinema-quality 3D effects and stunning 2D images make this the best home cinema projector we’ve seen this year – but the price makes it only for serious film fans



1,920x1,080 resolution, 1,300 ANSI lumens, 179x407x464mm, 10.0kg

Anyone wanting to take their home cinema setup to the next level should seriously consider a 3D projector – these have the power to transform your viewing experience, and Sony’s latest offering is no exception. The VPL-HW30ES has a massive three times the brightness of last year’s model, making it ideally suited to 3D as well as 2D content.


At almost half a meter long and weighing 10kg, you’ll struggle to fit the HW30ES on a bookshelf – it’s much more suited to a ceiling mount. With a bright enough lamp to project an image up to 14m, the projector is suitable for even the largest of living rooms. Only the biggest of walls will be large enough for its maximum 300in (25-foot) image, but you’ll still get a 58in picture from seven feet away.

Unlike other projectors we’ve seen, fan noise was almost non-existent – even after several hours’ use, it didn’t spin up to a level that became irritating, so it won’t matter if you’re sat directly underneath or in front of it when watching a film.

You should have no problems adding the HW30ES to an existing home cinema system – input options include two HDMI ports, a single VGA and component video. There aren’t any speakers, so you’ll need an AV amplifier for audio, but considering the price of the projector you’re unlikely to want to settle for anything less than a full surround sound system to accompany it.

Sony VPL-HW30ES side ports

At 1,300 lumens, a respectable brightness rating for a dedicated home cinema projector, the lamp is just bright enough that we could use it in a lit room and still make out plenty of detail. However, for the best experience, you’ll want to close the curtains and shut off the lights – in darkness, image quality is absolutely breathtaking, in both 2D and 3D.

High definition video playback was crisp and colourful, with Avatar’s blue Naa’vi warriors looking incredibly vivid. Darker images looked very accurate thanks to deep, if not entirely black, black levels and plenty of contrast, letting us pick out plenty of detail in Casino Royale’s monochrome opening scenes. Sony’s MotionFlow image-smoothing system did an excellent job of eliminating any visible stutter from our 24p Blu-ray movies.