Sony VPL-HW50ES review

The Sony VPL-HW50ES is the Argo of home cinema projectors

T3 Platinum Award
Reasons to buy
  • +

    Razor sharp detail performance

  • +

    Outstanding dynamic contrast

  • +

    Quiet operation

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Light loss when viewing 3D

  • -

    Some minor crosstalk issues

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The Sony VPL-HW50ES is sharp, entertaining and breathlessly brilliant - it's the movie projector we all want to take home

The Sony VPL-HW50ES is the brand's third generation Full HD 3D home theatre projector - and unquestionably the best yet.

Cosmetically, little seems to separate it from its predecessors, but beneath the lid lurk significant improvements, including an intelligent Contrast Enhancer, which dynamically adjusts the lens iris for the best possible punch.

The projector is built around Sony's proprietary SXRD (Silicon X-tal Reflective Display) panel technology, which refreshes at a sprightly 240Hz. Its main competition comes from the JVC DLA-X35 and Epson EH-TW8100.

Sony VPL-HW50ES: Build

Striking the right balance between bulk and beauty, this Sony's glossy cabinetry (available in either black or white) isn't overly large or heavy for the average home media room/cinema install; we rate it suitable for both ceiling mounting and coffee table parking.

It's also reverentially quiet, at just 21dB you simply won't notice it no matter how tense the onscreen action. Connections include two HDMIs, plus component and PC inputs.

Sony VPL-HW50ES: Features

The VPL-HW50ES projector is a veritable science lab when it comes to picture processing tech. Sony's Reality Creation tweak-suite convincingly boosts detail and texture in even high-quality sources like Blu-ray, while the latest iteration of Motionflow manages that rare feat of maintaining motion clarity without adding unwanted artefacts.

To simplify installation, the 3D glasses sync transmitter is built-in the projector. Set up is quick and simple, and the out-of-the-box image presets are on the money.

Sony VPL-HW50ES: Picture Quality

Sony has found a level of performance here which wouldn't look out of place on models costing twice as much. Images are astoundingly sharp and black level performance astonishing.

The projector reveals enticing detail in the gloomiest of shadows, but goes pure dark when it needs to. Contrast is boosted by a dynamic iris, which knows just when to adjust for the optimum visual snap. Brightness is rated at 1,700 lumens.

Even though there's a super bright TV viewing mode, we found you really need to use it in a darkened room for the most cinematic results. Two pairs of USB-rechargeable 3D glasses are included in the box, although their stereoscopic performance falls a little short, owning to incremental light loss and minor crosstalk.

Sony VPL-HW50ES: Verdict

Respectfully quiet in operation and capable of deep rich blacks with lush colours, the Sony VPL-HW50ES projector should delight even the most demanding film fans with its home cinema prowess.

An agile iris delivers a dynamic contrast range of 100,000:1, while the brand's proprietary SXRD light engine and Reality Creation picture processor throws images of astonishing crispness. Motion resolution is top notch too, making this projector a top choice for displaying big sporting events.

Sony VPL-HW50ES release date: Out now

Sony VPL-HW50ES price: £3,000

Steve May

For over 25 years, Steve has been casting his keen eyes and ears over the best that the world of TV and audio has to offer. He was the creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, and contributes to huge range of technology, home and music titles along with T3, including TechRadar, Louder, Ideal Home, the i newspaper, and more.