Sony VPL-HW45ES review

From the moment you switch it on, you’ll discover a talented projector Tested at £1850

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

From the moment we switched on this Sony we could tell we were on to a winner, and that notion never wavered


  • +

    Crisp, detailed picture

  • +

    Natural colour pallet

  • +

    Easy to set up


  • -

    Nothing at this price

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.

Many things are blindingly evident the moment you set your eyes upon them: he plays World of Warcraft; War and Peace is too long, don’t invite a tiger over for tea.

A new addition to that list could be the Sony VPL-HW45ES; so clearly talented is it from the moment it shines upon your wall that we fretted over the number of ways we could tell you to buy it.


Two years on from the release of the Sony VPL-HW40ES, we believe this Full HD projector, also compatible with your 3D movies and loaded with features to customise the picture to your viewing satisfaction, is about to set new standards.

It looks unassuming enough ­– a tidy, turtle-like box, available in light grey or black, which won’t dominate your living room or home cinema – but its clean facade belies somewhat its capabilities when you turn it on.

Set-up is simple; having propped the VPL-HW45ES on our AV rack and connected it to an amp, it took just a few twists of the lens to get the image to fit and a whiz through a THX disc before we were enjoying a Blu-ray of The Imitation Game.

Sony says the projector’s 1800 lumens brightness means you get a clear, crisp picture even in a well-lit room, but we’d suggest cutting all the lights to feel the full force of what this piece of kit can do.

MORE: Best projectors 2016


The picture is undeniably crisp and detailed, shirt creases showing as clearly as the outlines of the figures wearing them.

Colours are pleasantly natural as well; many projectors are prone to over-egging the pudding in that respect, over-compensating for the medium with brash, excessively lucid tones.

The VPL-HW45ES, however, can pride itself on a subtle palette without forgoing any of that vividness.

MORE: 10 of the best Blu-ray films to test your system

We play around a little with colour and brightness, but find the original settings – post-THX Optimizer disc – to be pretty accurate.

When it comes to motion processing, we find the highest setting looks a little glitchy and overly processed with The Imitation Game, while turning it off leaves the action juddering a little too much for our eyes. Fortunately, there’s a middle ground that suits the combination of slow-moving drama and the odd war scene perfectly.

It depends somewhat on personal preference and the type of film you’re watching, but the VPL-HW45ES is more than capable of finding the right fit for any kind of viewer.


There are a multitude of features included by Sony here, but largely you needn’t fiddle about with them; more so due to the native picture quality being so good, rather than the settings themselves being obsolete.

(Don’t expect the world from Reality Creation, however; its meaning isn’t literal, however high you set it while watching Fifty Shades Of Grey.)

MORE: How to get the best picture


Essentially, the Sony VPL-HW45ES is really, really good - if you want anything better you’ll need much deeper pockets.

At this price we could certainly recommend this Sony whether you’re upgrading your home cinema setup or willing to invest an extra chunk into kicking off with a projector that’ll stand you in good stead for years to come.

See all our Sony reviews

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