Sony VPL-HW55ES Three-Chip SXRD (LCoS) Projector


Design and Setup of the Sony VPL-HW55ES Projector

The VPL-HW55ES looks identical to the earlier 50ES. It has ta dark, glossy blue paint job on the top that looks almost black. The same dual HDMI inputs and single component video input are there along with RS232 for control. There is a DSub input for a computer but most people will likely use HDMI for a laptop or HTPC at this point.

One of the largest changes with the 55ES is an improvement to lamp life. The 50ES came with an extra bulb and is rated for 2,000-3,000 hours of use. The 55ES no longer includes that extra bulb in box but includes a coupon for one if you pay $5 for shipping. The bulb is now rated for 5,000 hours of use in the VPL-HW55ES. Even at 5 hours a day, you're approaching three years before you need to replace it. Any testing of this will require a long time, since even run continually that is almost 7 months of continuous usage.

The other improvement is in the dynamic iris that can now offer even higher contrast ratios. The most important factor in any iris system is how well it can work without drawing any attention to itself. An iris that delivers higher contrast ratios but causes constant pulsing of the image isn't what anyone wants so hopefully Sony has managed to control it well.

Other carryover features are the Reality Creation system that I found made poor quality films look a little better last year. There is also Motionflow for frame interpolation or black frame insertion to improve motion resolution, and a full color management system with Sony's Real Color Processing.

The initial settings on the VPL-HW55ES out of the box are very good. It very close to the HDTV Rec. 709 standards. When most companies opt for a more eye-catching, though inaccurate, preset it is good to see this. With a 1.6x zoom lens and both horizontal and vertical lens shift, it is easy to position the VPL-HW55ES. I mounted it using an OmniMount PJT40 projector mount around 13' from a 122" 2.40 Screen Innovations SolarHD 1.3 4K screen. If the 1700 lumen rating on the VPL-HW55ES is accurate then it is plenty bright for this setup.