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Best Home Theater Projector
Ease of Use
Intended Use:
DIY Home Theater
Sony VPL-HW45ES Projector Sony VPL-HW45ES
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1800 Lumens
Full HD 3D
$1,998 Street Price
$1,999 MSRP

Home Theater Projector

M. David Stone, April 12, 2017


For $1999 the Sony VPL-HW45ES is a stand out performer for both dedicated home theater and less formal home entertainment and video gaming in low ambient light. It is bright enough in its video optimized mode for up to a 120" diagonal image with moderate ambient light or up to a 190" image in theater-dark lighting. It delivers vibrant color, dark blacks, and the full range of subtle gradations to give 2D images a three dimensional look; it offers a long list of video processing features to let you adjust the image to taste; it's quiet enough to make fan noise a non-issue; it supports full HD 3D; and its 22 ms lag time is very fast compared to most home theater projectors.

If you can stretch your budget to $2,699, the Epson Home Cinema 5040UB will be easy for many videophiles to cost justify, with its 4K compatibility and image resolution enhancement, its brighter and incrementally higher contrast image, and its power lens features.

If you don't want to spend more than $2000 and you need extra brightness to stand up to ambient light in your viewing room, the extra lumen muscle of the Epson 3900 may be enough to make it your preferred choice. If so, see the review of the Epson Home Cinema 3100 or the review of the Epson 3700. These two models are very similar to the 3900 in performance, but much less expensive. Our review of the Epson 3900 discusses the key differences.

That said, if you don't need extra lumen power to combat ambient light, the Sony VPL-HW45ES continues to stand out as a state of art dedicated home theater projector for under two thousand bucks. And that makes it is easy to recommend.

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HW45ES vs Epson 5040UB

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Comments (11) Post a Comment
Victor Posted Aug 22, 2016 3:41 PM PST
This is going be my projector for my home theater, I am not jumping into 4k just yet.
Chris Posted Aug 23, 2016 9:02 PM PST
Just got this installed in my new home theater...the picture is absolutely beautiful. At one point I herd my wife next to me actually mutter 'woah'.
Steve Posted Oct 4, 2016 5:40 AM PST
Just installed this projector, replacing a Sanyo PLV-70. I have a dedicated home theater and ceiling mounted the projector 17' away from a 136" screen. The setup is super easy, the out-of-the-box settings are awesome. The picture initially had a lot of keystone, but ensuring the unit is level and then using the adjust knobs took care of it. The picture guides are very helpful for setup. The picture is bright, even in low-lamp mode. And what a picture! Excellent detail in everything. Scenes that pan are smooth and natural. Colors are excellent, black levels are impressive. We watched something on NetFlix via a Roku and could easily see things moving in the dark shadows that could not be seen by our previous projector. Have not tried 3D, I don't know if it is worth the money to purchase the glasses. Very impressed with this product!
Ken Posted Oct 26, 2016 6:13 PM PST
A PLV-70 one of the best 720p's back in the day. I wanted one so badly as an upgrade for my VPL-VW10HT many moons ago.
Ken Posted Oct 26, 2016 6:14 PM PST
Steve, you can use the PS3 3D glasses with this. They are like $10 at Best Buy and work great.
nazir Posted Nov 2, 2016 10:05 AM PST
its really nice projector
Jarrod Ball Posted Nov 18, 2016 5:23 PM PST
Does anyone know where in western Canada to purchase this unit?
Mike Posted Apr 14, 2017 8:22 AM PST
I added a daylight filter and corrections for even better blacks, worth the $40. I still have mine on low lamp even a year or two later (40es model).

Great unit. The best thing I did was add a Monoprice multiformat screen and you will have absolutely no issues with black levels after this. I can't stand seeing the black bars.
alex Posted Nov 16, 2017 7:16 AM PST
Yes to everyone wondering, the 3d is indeed worth it. Buy the cheap playstation glasses. buy other active glasses on sale. not uncomfortable, effect is very awesome.
Will Posted Nov 16, 2017 12:58 PM PST
One of the best projectors out there, still, in my opinion.
Steve Posted Jan 4, 2018 10:04 AM PST
I ended up in the maze of a decision for a new projector in the $1,000 to $2,000 price range. This is my third projector and our room is a multiple use room which I would describe as good (the color of the walls and ceiling are not perfect) to very good as it can be fully darkened for movie viewing. The use of the projector in the room is 70% evening/movie viewing with the rest daytime/TV/sports. I was trying to decide between the BENQ HT3050/HT4050, Sony VPL-HW45ES and the Epson HC 4000. I know 4K is hot but then I saw the Sony on sale for $1,500 pre-black Friday and I went for it. Two months later could not be happier. With our primary seating for viewing at 13 feet from a 120” screen, just could not cost justify the minimal sharpness benefit from the Epson HC 4000 4K pixel shifter at that distance. I know the Epson has the enhanced color gamut of HDR and BT2020 but in comparing them, it was minimal benefit for a 25% increase in price. The nature and performance of the Sony LCOS system is awesome, as the picture pops with amazing sharpness for 1080, it has great natural color out of the box and is quite as a mouse. In regards to the BENQ HT3050/HT4050 the Sony also has better blacks, more quality usable lumens, greater placement flexibility and a 3 year warranty versus 1 year for BENQ all for a just a little more than the HT4050. No projector is perfect for everyone, but for my room and use the Sony hit all the marks at a great price. If you really only can use/need 1080 and want the best it can offer, this may well be the projector for you.

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