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Sony VPL-HW55ES review

Best projector £2000+, Awards 2015. A seriously capable performer that does nearly everything right Tested at £2800

5 Star Rating

Our Verdict

Best projector £2000+, Awards 2015. A seriously capable performer that does nearly everything right


  • Crisp, clean picture
  • Punchy colours
  • High levels of detail
  • Subtlety
  • Nice looks
  • Quiet


  • Lens shift could be smoother

Trust Sony to give us something easy on the eye.

The VPL-HW55ES is attractive, so far as that’s possible with a projector – there’s something in the symmetry and glossy top that’s alluring.

MORE: Awards 2014 - Best projectors

Picture quality

This allure turns to puzzlement as we find the inputs (two HDMIs and a component) on the side of the projector.

Puzzlement turns to mild disappointment as we fiddle with the manual lens shift and find it a bit cumbersome. At least the remote control and menus are slick, so it’s easy to fine-tune the picture.

Once set up, those hiccups become irrelevant – the picture is stunning. We’re big fans of the Panasonic PT-AT6000E – a direct rival – and everything that projector can do, this Sony does a bit better.

It’s a very natural picture with a high level of precision.

We take off with a Blu-ray of Gravity. Slow-moving objects are the best at showing off any motion instability, but there’s none of that here.

As Sandra Bullock floats about, helpless in space, motion is smoother than we’ve ever seen for the money.

Black levels are very strong, with a good amount of detail and easily identifiable textures. They play well with lighter elements too.

The space shuttle contrasts nicely with the vast expanse of black space. Whites are very bright without greying out the blacks.

Colours are nicely handled. They’re bright and punchy, but with plenty of subtlety to gradients and shading. From skin tones to floorboards, the colours feel natural and organic.

It’s also a really crisp picture. Objects are well defined without looking overly etched. It’s not easy to spot picture noise either, because there is barely any.

While we’re on the subject of noise: the projector hardly makes any. After a bit of initial whirring at start-up, it runs so quietly that it’s unlikely to disturb even the most sedate of scenes.

3D performance

We switch to 3D and continue to be impressed. Often, 3D has a tendency to make everything look too dark. Not so here: the picture is bright and vibrant.

As we watch flamingos walk by in Life Of Pi, there’s a bit of image instability, which can be improved by turning down the ‘3D Glasses Brightness’ setting.

We found it best to have this set at halfway, which produces a sufficiently bright picture. Elsewhere, there’s a good sense of depth, and motion is smooth.


We’re very impressed by this Sony. Its clean, sharp, natural picture is nothing short of stunning.

If you’re considering a projector anywhere near £3000, you really must have a good look at this one.

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Native Aspect Ratio16:9
Native Resolution1920 x 1080
Graphic ModeFull HD
Contrast Ratio120,000:1
Standard Mode Brightness1700 lm


Lamp Power200 W
Lamp TypeUHP
Normal Mode Lamp Life2000 Hour
Number of Lamps1
Economy Mode Lamp Life5000 Hour

Projection Lens

Maximum Diagonal Image Size7.62 m (300")
Optical Zoom1.6x

General Information

Product NameSony VPL-HW55ES
Product ModelVPL-HW55ES
Manufacturer Website Address
Brand NameSony
Product TypeSXRD Projector
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Manufacturer Part NumberVPL-HW55ES/W

Power Description

Operating Power Consumption300 W

Technical Information

3D Type3D Ready
Projection MethodFront


Video Signal StandardHDTV
Output Scan Format1080p

Physical Characteristics

Weight Approximate9.60 kg
Width407.4 mm
Depth463.9 mm
Height179.2 mm
Dimensions179.2 mm (H): 407.4 mm (W): 463.9 mm (D)


Package Contents
  • HW55ES Full HD 3D Home Cinema Projector
  • Remote Control RM-PJ23
  • 2 x AA (R6) Manganese Batteries
  • AC Power Cord for Projector
  • 2 x 3D Glasses (TDG-PJ1)
  • 2 x Pouch for the 3D Glasses
  • Operating Instructions