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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

Set Up

The HW45ES throws a 120" 16:9 image from a range of just under 12 feet to not quite 19 feet. The Projection Calculator will let you determine the range for the screen size you want.

With the projector sitting on a table and the image at the middle position of its vertical shift, the centerline of the lens is at the geometric center of the image. The measured vertical shift is 80% of the image height up or down from that center position, which is a little more than the plus or minus 71% that Sony claims. The horizontal shift varies from 0% of the image width to plus or minus 26%, depending on where the lens is in its vertical range.

At 20 pounds and 7.1" by 16.1" by 18.4" (HWD), the HW45ES is obviously meant for permanent installation. The 1.6x zoom and the vertical and horizontal lens shift make it equally appropriate for a ceiling mount, a table, or a large rear shelf on a back wall behind the seating area. The front-facing exhaust vents, on both the front of the projector and near the front of each side, help make it particularly appropriate for a rear shelf. The intake vents are on the rear. Sony recommends leaving a 2-inch gap on all sides. However the rear panel curves in a tight arc, so even if you accidentally have the rear panel touching the wall, most of the vent area will have a one-inch or greater clearance.

Sony HW45ES Side View
Sony HW45ES Side View

Sony HW45ES Connection Panel
Connection Panel Close up

Installation Trade-offs

As with any projector with a standard lamp, keep in mind the rule of thumb that the brightness will typically fall by about 25% in the first 500 hours of use, and then continue to decline more slowly.

One easy way to counter the loss in brightness as the lamp ages is to set the projector up with an image size that will give you suitable brightness in the Low lamp mode. You can then boost brightness as the lamp ages by switching to High mode. Another strategy--which you can use by itself or in combination with the first--is to start with one of the lower-brightness predefined modes, then switch to a brighter mode when you need to. With most projectors, that would also mean switching to a noticeably lower level of color quality. However, the HW45ES has good enough color in all modes to make this a far more acceptable strategy.

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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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