Projectors

Sony VPL-HW30AES 1080p Three-Chip LCoS 3D Projector

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The Sony VPL-HW30AES 3D Projector On The Bench

Equipment used: EyeOne Pro spectrophotometer, CalMAN Professional 3.7 analysis software, Accupel HDG-3000 signal generator, Spears & Munsil Benchmark Blu-ray disc.

All measurements were taken off the screen (Carada Brilliant White, gain 1.4) from the seating position (10 feet back). Video processing tests were performed using an Oppo BDP-93 connected directly to the projector and set to Source Direct mode.

Cinema 1 provided the best starting point for calibration as it was fairly accurate at the factory settings. Of the available color gamuts, Wide 1 is the closest to Rec 709 (HDTV) with only a slight oversaturation of Green. Color luminance is nearly perfect. Many displays don’t measure this well after adjustment much less before.

Pre-calibration grayscale and gamma was less accurate than the color measurements. Gamma was extremely bright especially as the signal level increased. This manifests as a washed-out and flat-looking image. Grayscale wasn’t great either with a bluish bottom end and a reddish top end.

After much fiddling with the CMS, I decided the results weren’t enough of an improvement to accept the grayscale issues that cropped up. Since the luminance is so good, small errors in one primary color are not visible since the overall balance is excellent. You can see it looks pretty much the same as the pre-calibration chart.

In cases where I cannot achieve a perfect color gamut chart, I check the ideal secondaries where cyan, magenta and yellow are recalculated based on the actual primaries. The chart below shows that the HW30 gets this right.

Post-calibration grayscale and gamma are pretty much perfect. Gamma runs a tiny bit light but tracking is flat enough that the error is invisible. White balance is also in the realm of perfection with errors of less than 1 DeltaE from bottom to top. This is superb performance.

Video processing was among the best I’ve tested from any display. The only failures were below black and above white signals in the PC mode and on the jaggies test. As always, take these results with a grain of salt. Any system using this projector is likely to have a disc player or video processor which will exceed the performance of the display’s. I couldn’t help noting though that the HW30 locked on to film and video cadences faster than my Oppo BDP-93! Although all the luma burst patterns looked fine, RGB and 4:4:4 looked better than 4:2:2.

Contrast performance was excellent though not quite at the level of the JVC models which are Sony’s principal competition. The HW30 does offer more light output however so it’s a tradeoff between the deepest blacks or a brighter picture. Ultimately it will depend on your particular application, screen size, throw distance, light control and other factors. Suffice it to say the minimum black measurement of .001 fL is at the lowest limit of my meter. With a peak calibrated output of 17.36 fL, that makes the on/off contrast ratio 17,360:1 which is superb. This is at the Low lamp power setting. By comparison, I have to set my Anthem LTX-500’s lamp on High to achieve 18 fL. There is significant light reduction in the 3D mode due to the glasses although the Glasses Brightness control helps somewhat. In 2D, the HW30 has more than enough light available for small to medium theaters.

Brightness and color uniformity was excellent in full-field patterns with almost no color tinting anywhere on the screen. This shows the effectiveness of the sub-pixel convergence adjustment which is only offered by Sony. Optical performance was about average for this price range with a small amount of softness visible around the edges of cross-hatch patterns.