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


Setup of the Sony VPL-HW30AES 3D Projector

With its generous lens shift and zoom range, I had little trouble placing the HW30 on my usual shelf and fitting the image to a 92-inch diagonal screen. All controls are manual, not uncommon in this price range, so I had to do a bit of back and forth to get the focus just right. Patterns are provided in the projector’s menu or you can use some of your own if you wish. To activate the 3D function of the projector, I had to unplug the power cord and do a power cycle after connecting the emitter. If you don’t do this, the 3D menus will not appear. One item Sony did not include was a cable to link the emitter with the HW30. The manual says to use an Ethernet cable of no greater than 15 meters. All I had on hand was a 20 meter length and it worked fine. After connecting my HDMI cable, I was ready to rock.

The menu system places all calibration controls in the Picture menu with the exception of the color management system which is in the Advanced Picture section. Full facility is provided for adjusting grayscale, gamma, color sharpness and video processing. There are nine picture modes including the dreaded Dynamic setting for those who wish to assault their eyeballs with cartoonish colors, edge enhancement, and a color temp so cool it gives me the chills. I turned, as always, to the three Cinema modes. After eyeballing them (they are subtly different) I settled on Cinema 1 as the best starting point. I usually make this choice based on which mode offers the best color accuracy and gamma performance. Lamp power was set to Low and the iris was turned off and left fully open. One should never calibrate a display with the iris on as it will skew gamma measurements and can even affect color. There are also two User modes but since the Cinema modes are fully adjustable, I didn’t need them.

To dial in the gamma, you can choose between eight different curves or turn it off which makes it linear (undesirable). The number 8 setting tracked closest to 2.2. You can tweak it further with a Black Adjust and White Adjust control which affects the two ends of the range. This is a nice way to give you some flexibility without the complexity of a multi-point gamma system. Calibrating grayscale was easy with high and low controls for each primary color that didn’t interact too much. One cool thing I noted – the color temp presets contain the usual High, Middle and Low options and five Custom modes. Each of them offers a different starting point which really speeds calibration. I chose Custom 3 which corresponds to the Low 1 setting. This is pretty close to D65 so I didn’t have to make big adjustments to get things right on the money.

When I started working with the CMS, which Sony calls Real Color Processing, I discovered a few challenges. In the past, RCP only included the mysterious Range and Position controls, which did nothing to actually improve color accuracy, along with traditional Color and Hue controls. Now they’ve added the third dimension with Brightness adjustments making the CMS far more useful. I was able to dial in the CIE points and luminance for all six colors to an excellent degree of accuracy. The challenge appeared when I revisited the grayscale. I found I could not tighten the tracking back up to my usual nit-picking standard of all errors below 1 DeltaE. I went back and forth for quite a while but could not get both grayscale tracking and color to line up perfectly. In the end, I chose to maximize grayscale accuracy and color luminance and allow the CIE points to be a little off. This gave me the most natural image and was a perfectly acceptable compromise. As you’ll see in the Benchmark section, the end result was quite excellent with only the tiniest flaws.