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Sony VPL-HW30ES review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £3140
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


1,920×1,080 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.

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Price £3,140
Rating *****
Award Ultimate


Projector technology SXRD
Lamp brightness 1,300 ANSI lumens
Lamp life 2,000
Lamp life in economy mode 2,700
Contrast ratio 70,000:1


Native resolution 1,920×1,080
Max compressed resolution 1,280×1,024
Aspect ratio 4:3
Other aspect ratios 16:9
Max diagonal at 7ft 58in
Throw ratio 1.47:1 to 2.18:1
Optical zoom 1.6x
Projection distance 1.3m to 14.1m
Mirror image yes
Invert image yes
Lens shift horizontal 25%
Lens shift vertical 65%
HD Ready yes
Special view modes cinema-1, cinema-2, cinema 3, game, user-1, user-2


VGA input yes
DVI input No
Sound inputs none
Composite input no
S-video input no
HDMI input yes
PAL support yes
SECAM support yes
NTSC support yes
Audio output none
Video output none
Others inputs/outputs second HDMI input, 3D transmitter input


Noise (in normal use) 22dB(A)
Size 179x407x464mm
Weight 10.0kg
Internal speakers none
Extras remote control
Remote special features picture mode, colour temp, aspect ratio, zoom, keystone, overscan, black level, input select, light
Power consumption standby 0W
Power consumption on 260W


Lamp cost (inc VAT) £336
Lamp supplier
Lamp cost per hour of use £0.16
Lamp cost per hour of use (economy) £0.12

Buying Information

Price £3,140