Sony VPL-HW55ES review

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

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

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


  • +

    Crisp, clean picture

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    Punchy colours

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    High levels of detail

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    Nice looks

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  • -

    Lens shift could be smoother

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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.

MORE: Awards 2014 - all the winners

MORE: See all projector Best Buys

MORE: See all projectors under £1000

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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.

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