Sony VPL-HW50ES 3D SXRD Projector ($3,999)An excellent all-round projector with no major issues. + Great contrast, color, and brightness + Comes with 3D glasses – Slightly inconsistent focus across screen
Key Features+ 3-chip SXRD (LCOS) + Inputs: (2) HDMI in; component; PC-RGB; IR; RS-232 + Dimensions + Weight: 16 x 7 x 18.25 in; 21.1 lb
SetupAs with most projectors in this price range, the HW50ES features manual lens shift, zoom, and focus. No surprises there, though the feel of each is more solid than on the somewhat cheaper-feeling Epson. The remote seems to have a button for every conceivable feature. Seems excessive to me, as after setup all I’ve ever used a projector’s remote for is to turn it on and off. At least the Sony remote has a cool blue backlight, far better than the sickly amber/orange of the Epson and JVC. The menus are largely unchanged over previous Sony models, but they’re easy to navigate and, like the others here, are black and white (a boon for calibrators). There are color management system adjustments; ironically, though, these end up being almost superfluous given how accurate the projector’s color is out of the box. The Sony was also exceptionally quiet, a laudable accomplishment, especially given the Epson’s impersonation of a leaf blower.
PerformanceWhile the cabinet, menus, and remote are all pretty much the same as last year’s VPL-VW30ES, there are changes on the inside. As with the other projectors here, brightness has increased. This is always a good thing with a projector. Greater light output means you can have a larger screen while still having a punchy image. It also means 3D isn’t dim, as you’ll always lose light through the active shutter glasses. The most I could get out of last year’s Sony on my 1.0-gain, 102-inch screen was 29.18footlamberts, a respectable amount for sure. This year, the HW50ES put out 36.74 ftL. I’ll take a 20% increase in light, sure. However, the increase came with an increase in black level by about the same amount. You’d be hard pressed to notice it, however. The black levels on all three of the projectors here, particularly the JVC, are plenty low. You can certainly argue about numbers if you want, but I never found the black level wanting. The contrast ratio, too, is about the same. I measured around 7,647:1, better than most flat-panels, and sufficient to create an image with high contrast. One of the other big changes this year is updated Reality Creation processing. Like Epson’s Super-resolution, it makes everything a bit crisper, and I’m sure many will like it. It does a little better job adding apparent detail without increasing noise/grain too much compared with theEpson, though the higher settings do far more harm than good. The HW50ES’s motion resolution is around 600 lines per picture height, similar to its distant LCD flat-panel cousins. The Film Projection mode increases this to between 800 and 900. There’s no light loss measurable with the Film Projection mode, but there is a barely noticeable flicker with bright objects. The MotionFlow settings do a little better job in terms of motion resolution (with High even more detailed than Low), but these add motion interpolation, making content shot on film look unnaturally smooth. Speaking of processing, the Sony does a neat trick I’ve never seen before on any display. In the Auto 1 film mode, the HW50ES detects the 3:2 sequence in 1080i content (like movies on cable channels or TV shows). It then dumps the 3:2 cadence, taking the original 24fps content and doing a 10:10 pulldown to match the 240-Hz refresh rate of the projector’s SXRD panels. In other words, it de-judders 24fps-native TV content. Cool, right? Lots of displays do something similar with 1080p/24fps content on Blu-ray, but this is the first I’ve seen that does it with 1080i HDTV. Since I had all three projectors, I did what any projection-loving nerd would do: I triple-stacked them. Using a Monoprice 1x4 HDMI splitter, I drove all three, then blocked off the two I didn’t want to see. As I flipped back and forth with Brave on Blu-ray, the characters of these three projectors were revealed. And, well ... overall those characters are little changed from last year. All were definitely improved, though. The Sony looked consistently good throughout the movie, with rich colors and a punchy image. The Epson was brighter, of course, but in its brightest mode its colors and color temp were sub-par. In its accurate mode, the Epson is a little dimmer than the Sony and has a slightly worse contrast ratio. The JVC easily had the best contrast and black level, while remaining almost as bright. For 3D I used Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (based on a true story). Two pairs of TDG-PJ1 glasses are included in the box (additional pairs cost $129). They’re a bit bulky but fairly light. Some crosstalk was noticeable. The Epson was about the same, perhaps a little better, and the JVC was much worse in this respect. The light loss is a little more than what you get with the JVC and its glasses, but since the Sony has more to start with, it’s not a big issue. As far as 3D depth goes, the Epson was a touch better and the JVC a touch worse. Color in general was more accurate on the Sony than with the Epson or JVC. They’re all close, but the Sony’s picture seemed a little more realistic. Skin tones, like when young Abe is reading with his mom, especially looked natural. The Sony didn’t quite have as consistent a focus across the screen as the others. This was improved somewhat by adjusting the red, green, and blue SXRD panels (in the user menu), but not entirely. Focus and panel alignment vary per unit, so yours might be fine. I just remember noting the same issue last year, and this year I spent far more time trying to get it right on the Sony than with the Epson or JVC. And still I couldn’t get it completely to my liking. Not a huge deal, but it’s worth noting. Other than that, I couldn’t find anything wrong with the Sony. It’s consistently good across the board. However, its color accuracy aside, it doesn’t stand out in any category (though that 24fps/1080i processing trick is neat).
Bottom LineThe VPL-HW50ES doesn’t offer better performance than the Epson or JVC, so its higher price seems a bit much. But in this trio of truly tremendous projectors, the Sony is more well rounded than the others. It can’t match the Epson’s light output or the JVC’s contrast ratio, though it is bright, with good contrast and a little more accurate color than the others. The HW50ES is great, just not as single-issue excellent as the JVC and Epson projectors. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Screen Innovations to Show Affordable, Appreciable and Aesthetically Pleasing Projection Screen Solutions at ISE 2013 in Stand 1-N53 as Part of Home Cinema Europe Display SI Projection Screens, Projection Screen Materials and Associated Technologies Deliver Value, Image Quality and Immersive Experience Rivaling Flat Panel Displays Austin, TX, USA (ISE Stand #1-N53- Home Cinema Europe) – January 25, 2013 – Screen Innovations (SI) will demonstrate for ISE 2013 attendees an impressive new lineup of projection screens and screen materials which provide an immersive experience and impressive image quality, coupled with unique and innovative features that are not offered elsewhere. In the Home Cinema Europe stand #1-N53, Screen Innovations will demonstrate both the new Black Diamond Zero Edge G2 and Gamma Maestro 4K acoustically transparent projection screens. These game-changing projection screen technologies can easily represent a greater value per square inch in the video category than traditional flat panel displays, and deliver best-in-class performance with innovative features not found elsewhere. 2013 ISE attendees are sure to be captivated with what they see. Here is a sampling of what will be shown in stand 1-N53 by Screen Innovations: Black Diamond™ Motorized A new and truly unique motorized design utilizing SI’s award-winning Black Diamond ambient light rejection screen technology, Black Diamond Motorized is a sleek and sexy flat panel alternative that actually disappears when not in use, ideal for virtually any environment or application. Utilizing one motor, four custom helixes, and a spool of slender aircraft cable, Black Diamond Motorized silently lowers a thin wing containing the rolled Black Diamond screen downward from a recessed ceiling-mounted cassette. The cable-hung wing then stops, and from it, a small tube quickly emerges and lowers itself down to an adjustable, pre-determined image height, leaving only the image space in sight. Because Black Diamond screens do not require masking or any black drop material whatsoever, there is no visible material above, below, or on either side of the screen surface, allowing the images projected on Black Diamond Motorized to appear as though they are suspended in air. Unlike flat panel TVs, Black Diamond Motorized delivers zero glare and reflection when used in a bright environment, and by virtue of its industry-leading Black Diamond ambient light rejection screen technology, light scatter is measurably reduced by over 75%. Delivering a next-level entertainment experience while literally disappearing into the room’s existing décor when not in use, Black Diamond Motorized appeals to the senses - and satisfies the needs of - a diverse audience in either residential or commercial environments. Black Diamond Motorized is the ultimate blend of art + science. Black Diamond™ Zero Edge G2 Projection Screens The New Black Diamond Zero Edge G2 by Screen Innovations is the world’s first and only multi-directional ambient light rejecting projection screen. Featuring a rigid panel, a pencil-thin 10mm bezel, and the award-winning Black Diamond screen technology that can boost a projector’s contrast by over 900%, Black Diamond Zero Edge projection screens have the look and feel of a flat panel TV, yet blend flawlessly with surrounding décor, deliver a stunning image, and provide a fully immersive entertainment experience for light or dark room applications. A new frame design provides better structural support, an integrated track system provides the option to inlay optional full perimeter LED Lighting behind the screen for added effect, and optimized shipping cartons simplify job site handling and can reduce freight costs by more than 65% on average. Due to the company’s proprietary Zero Edge™ design, SI is currently the only manufacturer that offers LED lighting and is promoting the benefits of using backlighting with two-piece projection systems as a way to add depth, warmth, and to enhance surrounding design and décor elements in order to make larger displays more welcome in both residential and commercial settings. Available with Black .8 gain, Dark Gray 1.4 gain, or Silver 2.7 gain screen materials, Black Diamond Zero Edge G2 offers the most affordable, innovative, and versatile projection screen technology available, setting a new aesthetic standard that is currently unmatched in the marketplace. Gamma Maestro 4K Projection Screen Material Gamma Maestro 4K is a 1.1 gain acoustically transparent woven screen material that features black level and color saturation enhancement as well as excellent color neutrality, 4K resolution, brightness uniformity, and wide viewing angles which when combined, makes for a projection screen that is excellent for use with a bright projector in both moderately lit and dark environments. Available in either fixed or motorized configurations in sizes up to 215”, Gamma Maestro’s acoustically transparent characteristics provide industry-leading audio clarity with a maximum measured variance of +2 -1 db from 20 to 20k Hz. Prices vary by configuration. A white paper on Gamma Maestro 4K is available for download by following this link. To download SI product images, videos, logos and associated marketing materials click on the following link: http://www.screeninnovations.com/downloads/ SI has a projection screen solution for nearly any budget, any application, and any aesthetic. ISE 2013 attendees are encouraged to visit the Home Cinema Europe stand (#1-N53), see the demo, and learn more about delivering next-level entertainment experiences to a diverse clientele by incorporating Screen Innovations projection screens into their installations. Interested parties are encouraged to visit www.screeninnovations.com or call +1 (512) 832-6939 to learn more about the SI family of products and services available. Follow SI on Twitter @SIScreens and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/screeninnovations. Screen Innovations Media Contact: Katye (McGregor) Bennett | Katye@screeninnovations.com | O. +1 (406) 446-1283 | C. +1 (425) 328-8640 Major Partners:
- D-BOX Technologies redefines your personal home theatre experience. D-BOX provided an opportunity to experience the next dimension in home theatre entertainment, to feel completely immersed in the movie by living each scene as if you were part of the movie. About Our Demo - D-BOX Technologies demonstrated the next dimension in home theatre entertainment, to feel completely immersed in the movie by living each scene as if you were part of the movie.
- Digital Projection offers an extensive line of ultra-high-performance 3-chip and single-chip DLP™ based projection systems. DPI's projectors continue to be the reference standard for demanding applications such as luxury home entertainment. With two Emmys for technological engineering excellence, DPI will continue to be driven by a pioneering spirit, our legendary pursuit of innovative technology, and our unmatched customer service. About Our Demo - REVEALED AT CES 2013 the 3-chip DLP® -- HIGHlite Cine 330-3D, delivering up to 4500 lumens of brilliant imagery, the new HIGHlite Cine 330-3D signals a bold expansion of DPI 's already robust single-chip and 3-chip 3D projector line. Two new models are being introduced to CES attendees: a high contrast version delivering 2500 lumens and greater than 10000:1 contrast, and a high brightness version delivering 4500 lumens.
- Kaleidescape designs and manufactures the Kaleidescape System, the world's premier movie server, and delivers the ultimate cinematic experience for the home. Renowned for its intuitive user interface, the Kaleidescape System presents your entire movie and music library on any TV in any room, and enables you to enjoy your favorite movies with no waiting through previews, menus or advertisements. About Our Demo - Experience how Kaleidescape will change the way you enjoy movies with the world's fastest Blu-ray start time, the ability to jump to any song in any concert film or musical and the ability to skip straight to the best parts of your favorite films with Kaleidescape Scenes. You will also see how the Kaleidescape Store enables you to browse, buy and download Blu-ray quality movies directly to your Kaleidescape System.
- CEDIA Through partnerships, messaging efforts and networking, CEDIA works to educate various audiences about the electronic systems industry and the work our members do. These initiatives ensure that potential partners and clients, as well as press, investors, government entities, seeCEDIA members as a trained and qualified workforce while recognizing the size and viability of the home technology market. Let us help you to Own the Home. Own the Network. Join CEDIA today. The Ultimate Home Theatre experience was made possible by resilient partnerships with major suppliers in the industry who contributed to the success of the demonstration:
- ADA - As the custom installation industry's "Brand-of-Excellence", ADA proudly manufactures its award winning home-cinema and multi-room A/V systems by hand in the USA. At the 2013 CESADA proudly introduced the Ramp Room-Amp (CEDIA's Product-of-the-Year), Cinema Reference Mach IV($40,000) Home-Cinema Controller and Cinema Rapture line of tuner-less Audio Video Receivers. And for the Ultimate Home Cinema experience, ADA deployed the Cinema Rhapsody Mach IV preamplifier/controller, TEQ-12 Twelve-Channel Trinnov Room Correction Equalization System, and PTM-8150 Eight-Channel High-Current Power Amplifier.
- Acoustic Innovations- For twenty years Acoustic Innovations has been the source for Personal Theaters, Theater Seating, Fiberoptic Ceilings, Acoustical Panels, and Residential Noise Control solutions. Over this time we have pioneered many of the materials and design specifications used by other companies today. Our staff has completed thousand's of personal theaters throughout the world and has developed processes to ensure your ultimate satisfaction. At every level of cost we blend the Science of Acoustics with the Art of Aesthetics. Acoustic Innovations provided 9 Contempo CinemaChairs upholstered in Black leather with the D-BOX Ready option.
- Bitwise Controls - The Theater was controlled with a control system and touch screen from Bitwise Controls, a made in the USA automation company who creates products and software designed to control residential and commercial integrated systems. With custom user interfaces running on devices devices like Apple's iPad, iPhone and iPod as well as Android tablets and handsets, our products eliminate the need for dedicated touch-panels that cost thousands and are only capable of a fraction of what today's smart devices can do.
- DVDO - provided the DVDO Air™ Wireless for HDMI® Connection System to send high definition signals to DTV for a clean look without wires. The DVDO AIR system transfers full, uncompressed 1080p HD, so you can watch 3D Blu-ray movies and enjoy full 7.1 channel surround sound flawlessly. It looks and sounds exactly the same as it would with a high performance HDMI cable, except there's no cable and unlike other wireless solutions not affected by common interference sources.
- Perfect Path - Perfect Path® offers the residential and commercial installation markets the industry first and only true Locking HDMI® Cables. Our cables have also earned the prestigious DPL Labs™ Seal of Approval - independent third-party testing verifying that our cables exceed HDMI® specifications. Perfect Path cables, connectors and tools offer the same PPC® quality that has been enjoyed around the world by cable systems and satellite networks. These competitively priced, highly reliable solutions allow integrators and retailers to Connect With Something Better™ for increased profits and decreased operational costs.
- Stewart Film Screen - The leader in screen technology, showcased a 12' wide CineCurve, constant-height masking system, with FireHawk G3 high-contrast screen material. A variety of content ranging from classic films, HDTV sports, and modern-day blockbuster movies were presented in their correct aspect ratios; without stretching or zooming the image, and without distracting black bars. The FireHawk G3 screen material delivers a robust image, even with room lighting on, making this an ideal solution for spaces where ambient light cannot be fully controlled. Additionally, this system is available in an acoustically-transparent design so that speakers can be concealed behind the viewing surface.
- Triad Loudspeakers - Triad is a complete provider of loudspeaker solutions for residential multi-room and home theater system applications and is a top choice by many CEDIA custom integrators worldwide. Triad presented the Triad InRoom Gold LCR and matching pedestals for left and right of the screen with 1 InRoom Gold LCR Center and matching pedestal for below the screen, 2 InRoom Silver LCR and matching pedestals to be used as surrounds with 4 InRoom Gold DSP Subs powered by 4 RackAmp DSP 600S.
Screen Innovations HQ Tour Reveals Product Line Depth
|Blake Vackar (left), director of sales for Screen Innovations, with Todd Anthony Puma.|
|When the Black Diamond Motorized screen suffered from deflection issues when mounting the screen, Gustafson solved the issue with his daughter's hair bands. Purpose-made bungees are now used.|
Solar 4K 1.3 Gain
Of all the white/grey screens that Screen Innovations offers, this one was by far my favorite. The image was flawless, with tight colors, deep black levels and crisp, noiseless white details. In a darker environment, I found that the quality of the image was comparable to the Black Diamond. In a particular scene from The Amazing Spiderman, there is a close up of Lizard’s face where he is transforming from Lizard to human and you can actually see the scales flaking away from his face. The picture was so pristine that you could even see the outline of the contact lenses the actor wore to create the Lizard’s eyes. It was an incredible visual. This would be the other screen outside of the Black Diamond that I would most often offer to my clients.
|A demo from The Amazing Spiderman on SI's Solar 4K 1.3 Gain screen.|
Black Diamond has been professionally measured to improve contrast 900 percent over a matte white 1.1 gain screen. In my opinion, the black levels in this screen provide a depth to the image like no other screen. Even 2D images seem to appear 3D. I thought that the scene from The Amazing Spiderman couldn’t look any better than it did on the Solar screen, but the colors provided by Black Diamond are even more vivid and bright, and the lines clean and distinct. Black Diamond Zero Edge is also the only screen that can incorporate an LED lighting kit for around the border of the screen. LED lighting enhances the color images on the screen and relaxes the viewer’s irises, allowing brighter content to be viewed in a darker room for longer periods of time without eyestrain.
|A demo at the Republic Gastropub bar illustrating the difference between matte white and a Black Diamond screen.|
The Black Diamond Motorized screen allows you to reach a client base who just does not have the space or budget for a dedicated home theater room. It is the world’s first “rollable TV,” as the Screen Innovations team would call it. It provides integrators the ability to put a TV where it should go, not where it has to go. For instance, I have a number of clients in New York City whose walls are all windows. This screen can be installed right above the window and dropped down when they are ready to watch TV. The installation is simple because SI uses the same aluminum brackets for mounting all motorized screens in its line. It will likely take an integrator the same amount of time to install Black Diamond Motorized as it does to mount a flat-panel TV.
Before this trip I, like many others, only thought “Black Diamond” when I thought of Screen Innovations. They have shown me that they have a full line of screens that can meet any price point and any desire a client may have without stepping out of their line. Every screen manufacturer has screens to offer, but only Screen Innovations has Black Diamond. Much like Apple, other manufacturers can imitate, but not duplicate the Black Diamond.The Future of SI Screen Innovations has been consistently experiencing 40 percent growth each year in domestic and international sales. They have already become the “it” screen in the residential scene and are just beginning their passage into the commercial world. Their screens were featured in many of the leading projector manufacturer’s booths at CEDIA and Infocomm in 2012—Epson, Sony, DPI, Wolf, Panasonic, JVC, Optoma, and Sim2 all used Screen Innovations in their booths, and BenQ even had a mind-blowing circular 65’ Black Diamond screen that they used as their overhead sign that SI created for their exhibit. After two years of R&D, the team at Screen Innovations just launched a new commercial technology called FlexGlass. FlexGlass is a new rear projection screen material that offers all of the benefits of rigid optical glass and acrylic panels with the added benefit of custom and curve capabilities that can only be achieved with flexible screen materials. FlexGlass eliminates projector hot-spotting 100 percent, and from what I saw, has zero sparkle. It seems this would be an ideal choice for multiple-projector, edge blending, and short throw projector applications that are often needed in commercial, digital signage and some higher-end residential settings. One other note FlexGlass is 20 times lighter than Glass and ships on a roll, and costs much less to ship than other solutions.
Ryan and the team at Screen Innovations are always striving for the next technology and accept feedback from not only their team, but from integrators too, as they are not only looking out for their own success, but for the success of their dealers. “Though the awards we have received are appreciated, our greatest reward is when our dealers are profitable and successful,” Ryan said to me.
Todd Anthony Puma is president of The Source Home Theater Installation in New York City.