Sony VPL-HW20 review

There's a lot to like with Sony's VPL-HW20, including an easy set-up and good insight, but some may find its images lack excitement Tested at £2200.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

A subtle image that lacks a little excitement at times


  • +

    Stylish chassis

  • +

    easy set-up

  • +

    refined, natural colour palette

  • +

    good insight


  • -

    Lacks a little punch and vividness

  • -

    motion isn’t perfect

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

It's fair to say we don't think Sony has done too much wrong where projectors are concerned.

Looking to build specifically on the success of the VPL-HW10 and HW15, Sony's most recent £2k projectors, comes this, the HW20.

Instantly recognisable as a Sony chassis, boasting more style in a glossy, curved body than most other projectors on the market, it has the necessary connections and specification inside, too.

Vertical and horizontal position adjusters on the top of the unit combine with focus and zoom controls on the lens to make set-up a cinch, while video inputs include two HDMIs, PC and legacy sockets.

An SXRD panel is in charge of the key projection work. This is Sony's proprietary system built around liquid crystal on silicion (LCOS) display technology, similar to JVC's successful D-ILA units.

The latest incarnation of this panel claims 30 per cent better brightness compared to previous generations, and a claimed contrast figure of 80,000:1 (though we're wary of putting too much weight on these figures). Naturally it's all set for 1080p/24fps, HD content.

Quiet in operation
It's certainly quiet in operation – Sony claims the fan noise can be as low as 20dB – and there's an instant polish to the picture. Despite claims to the contrary, it doesn't offer the punch of LCD models, instead preferring a likeable, smooth, rich picture.

Colours are natural, with the HW20 coming in to its own with films such as Green Zone, where the gritty landscapes and skin tones on the Blu-ray transfer show the Sony capable of delivering impressive insight and texture.

Films with bolder colour palettes aren't conveyed with the same sense of vitality and excitement as elsewhere, the Sony settling on something a little more subdued, and like most projectors, fast motion could be smoother.

If you like a more refined, easy-on-the-eye image, and tend to prefer films with more natural, textured colour palettes, the VPL-HW20 is well worth considering – but it isn't quite the all-round star performer.

See all our projector Best Buys

Follow on Twitter

Join on Facebook

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test