THE SONY VPL-HW30AES "HYDRA" 3D PJ REVIEW By:
I have to admit it just feels funny Reviewing a Sony projector with high end features this time of year. Usually I am salivating over one at or around Thanksgiving time! However, with this upper 90's heat it is much cooler in my basement theater. So what makes the 30AES so special at its price? First of all it comes with their new Dynamic Lamp Control Technology which promises to make 3D a lot brighter than the current Flagship $9,999 90ES. If there was one weaker area on the 90ES it was 3D. I was happy with it for the most part but I will admit the JVC models did it better. Of course the 90ES did do 2D better with its superior motion handling and "pop" with sports. If we could just have combined them. Back to the 30AES... It also has Motionflow which allows the Sony 30AES to display twice as many images per second. This algorithm, unique to Sony, creates completely new images based on the incoming signal, and inserts them between the original frames to reproduce smoother, sharper motion. Speaking of motion the 30AES also has SXRD panels which can do 240 frames per second! It also has Sony's Advanced Iris3 Control which is their latest. How about separate 2D and 3D modes? You can adjust separate parameters for 2D and 3D content under a variety of application modes - dynamic, standard, game, living, cinema and presentation. Finally, besides extremely low fan noise (22db) the 30AES
also has Fully Digital Signal Processing. Which is a fully digital integrated picture enhancement engine, optimally engineered by Sony for front projectors. This high quality Engine relies on a collection of Sony-unique algorithms such as noise reduction and color enhancement to produce sharp, vibrant and lifelike images. So after putting all this together with a few other features and a much lower price than the 90ES does it take the cake for "The" budget 3D projector? Please read on...
EQUIPMENT USED FOR ALL OR PART OF THIS REVIEW:
Sony VPL-HW30AES Projector, JVC DLA-RS40 3D Projector, DirecTV HR24 500, DVDO EDGE GREEN Video Processor, Monster Power HTS 5100, Panasonic BDT 310 3D Blu ray player, Onkyo BD-SP809 Blu ray player Onkyo TX NR 1009 Receiver/pre-pro, Emotiva UPA-1 AMP, Sherwood Newcastle A-965 7 Channel AMP, Antec Component Coolers, Vutec SilverStar 120.5" screen with a Carada Masquerade Masking System. Pinnacle Speakers- Center BD600, Heights BD500 OWs, Left and Right and Surrounds Super K555s and the KLCR for surround back. Subwoofers- Pinnacle Dig 600, plus four MTX Lolita Low Profiles. 7.6 Sound! Remotes: Harmony 1100. Monster M1000 Ultimate HDMI cables top to bottom.
3D Glasses Used: Sony TDG-PG1s...
Jumping in with both feet I was very pleased with how great Blu ray looked. Limitless showed plenty of razor sharp close ups while exhibiting excellent shadow detail. I seriously forgot a few times this was not my 90ES hanging. The sharpness is definitely on par with the RS60 and VW90!Tweaking Cinema 1 for Blu ray was my first mission. With the abundant amount of Gamma options I was able to find a couple I really like. They landed between 6, 7 and 8. Depending on which type of movie. I am sure as the next week or two go by I will end up picking 7 for animation and 8 for movies (or 6) but I plan to test them much more. Black Level I have always liked at minus 1.The Color Temp Low 1 seems to be the closest to a good calibration (can't really do until you log some hours) out of the box. I know Colorspace should be at Normal but I like Wide 1 for movies. I did not catch the Advanced Iris working once so I left it at Auto 1. One of Sony's biggest strengths has always been motion. No difference here. Panning was terrific as usual. Motionflow can be set to Low for movies but even with it off I was very happy with slow side panning. So after spending just a little bit tweaking I was able to get an image that rivals higher end models.
Here's what the 30AES comes with!!!
Very stylish with plenty of class!!!
Setting up the 30AES was super easy. This is a great first projector for newbies. Yes, I did the "binoculars" trick when I was adjusting Focus. I will say that I am very used to doing all of this by remote but do find it just as easy doing it the old fashioned manual way. Actually I think I am able to achieve an even more optimal image when it comes to tweaking the Focus. My image is razor sharp. Just don't get frustrated and take your time. The remote (pics above) is very simple to use. It lights up blue so it is easy on the eyes. I like having direct button hits to Motionflow, Gamma, 3D settings, Black Level, Wide Modes, Color Temp and Space as well as the Advanced Iris. Of course the pic modes are there. Dynamic (sports/NFL), Standard (DirecTV shows), Cinema 1 (Blu ray) Cinema 2 (animation), Cinema 3 (3D), Game (Xbox 360, PS3 or wii), Photo and of course User 1 and 2. I just made Cinema 3 my 3D pic mode because it just seems easier. More on that later. Lastly, there is an input (around the horn style) button which for some reason Sony has never been a fan of direct hits. Like HDMI 1 and HDMI 2 buttons. Not to mention Menu, Pattern and of course Power and a Light (for lighting the remote) button. What else can I say about the 30AES. It is not heavy. Sony finally gave in to one of my requests. Their warning side sticker is finally easy to peel off. Before I would have to use "Goo Be Gone" but not now. I have both HDMI inputs being utilized. HDMI 1 is fed from my Onkyo 1009 and Edge Green (Review coming soon) while HDMI 2 receives the video from my Panasonic 310 Blu ray player. I love Dual HDMI outs on my Blu ray players since without detours (going into a Receiver or Video Processor) I am a firm believer you are getting the utmost optimal image. Unless you are watching a standard DVD which will benefit from a very good processing chip. That to me may be the only weak spot on the 30AES. Its processing, though not bad, is still not as strong as my Onkyo 1009 (which uses a Qdeo Marvell and a HQV Vida VHD1900 chip) or Simplay's Edge Green (which uses their acclaimed ABT 2015 chip). I am seeing the best image sending 1080p into it whether it is straight from my Blu ray player or DirecTV coming in from the 1009 and Edge. I say both since I like using the 1009 to pump 1080p into the Edge. Which then I can add my PC Level (0-255) trick with 36 bit (upconverted Deep Color) which makes the NFL and sports POP! Not to mention the Edge Green has plenty of helpful Test Patterns and a huge assortment of inputs. My security cameras (using composite) even run through it in my theater. The Edge is a good Backbone to any setup. Back on to the 30AES!
The NFL on the Sony projectors has always been awesome! I am happy to report the tradition has carried on with the 30AES. I am seeing pretty much the same as I did with the 90ES. You still get
great movement with Motionflow on High. Close ups are amazing with the amount of details on the player's faces. Want to see who needs a razor? Colors (set at 60) Pop using the Dynamic pic Mode with Wide 3 Color Space and Color Temp on High. So far I am liking Gamma 7 with Black Level minus 2 and White Level plus 1. Of course as my bulb settles down some this could change slightly. I will always update my settings though on the HDJ (High Def Junkies) Forum. Overall the 30AES is better than the JVCs at sports (Motionflow is implemented better and the colors Pop more) and as good as the 90ES. I would say the extra contrast is all the 90 has over it. Still though, on my Vutec Silverstar Screen it would be hard to tell the difference. Most without ever seeing the 90 in action would be more than happy! I am ready for week 1...
As you can see Blu ray 3D is really getting BIG! At least in my home it has. Whatever I put in the 30AES owned it. The image was exceptionally bright (especially on my Vutec Silverstar) with very minimal crosstalk. I put in a few torture scenes and it came through nicely. The 2D to 3D conversion is also not bad. Though many 3D Blu ray players now come with it. I do like doing the 3rd quarter of a game (DirecTV) in 3D. I would say the HW30 is as good or better than the RS40 I have here. It was just as bright if not brighter. I will point out the RS40 has 15 hours on it and the 30AES has about 8. I still like how JVC's glasses come on automatically though. Both 3D glasses are pretty comfortable. The Sony's are rechargeable. I was able to get Xpand 103s to work by using mode 3 (103s) as well as brightness level 3 on the 30AES. Brightness at full makes them lose sync about every 10 seconds or so. Still would like to use full level. Maybe future 104s will do it? I will still use them at least until more PJ1s hit the market. BTW, Sony BR250s, 100s and 50s do work but you do need filters from Sony. Send me an email and I will tell you how to get them for free! I am running an Ethernet Cat 7 cable (50 footer) from my projector (also works on top of pj) to above my screen (also below resting on my Center channel). TIP: If you experience any 3D Transmitter strength issues go into the Service Menu (Enter, Enter, Left, Enter and Up) and under Other change the 3D Transmitter from 0 to 1. Warning: Do nothing else there. If you do make sure you write down or take pics of the original settings. The 90ES was the best 2D projector I had last season. Its 3D though pretty good still had issues and was less bright. The 3D on the JVCs had better depth. The 30AES has caught up to the JVCs. Though its Black Level is not on par with the RS60 and VW90 (still not bad at all though) it is much more brighter. The HW30 is also just as Sharp as the twice as expensive models. Motion is as good as the 90ES and better than all the JVCs. It will be interesting to see where the lamp is in about 200 hours. In case you were lost on an island I will tell you the JVC 3D models had Lamp Dimming issues which are still not solved today. This will put a huge question mark on their 5 newer models coming out this year. As for 3D again Avatar, Despicable Me, Rio (pics above), Drive Angry, Sanctum, Megamind and Mars Needs Moms looked first rate. Though I sometimes did adjust the depth it is not a big deal. Just preview it minute, set it then it is ready for a family night! DirecTV also looked great. No matter what I threw into the 30AES it handled it. ESPN which does not work with the current JVC line works! I was finally able to watch the games again. I am using a HR24 500 DVR. Kudos to Sony for getting it right their second time around! TIP: For optimal 3D performance keep Motion Enhancer on Low especially for animation...
A few pics of the Menu. As you can see it is pretty straight forward. Just like the 90ES. Also note you also get Blanking which I find highly useful. It allows you to make any extra light leakage disappear. Small increment sliders on the top, bottom, left and right make this really easy. I like being able to tweak it like that instead of in set percentages like 2.5% and 5%. Panel Alignment is also included. Don't use it unless you really have to. Leave it off for the sharpest image. Same for Keystone. Leave it off. Don't forget there are also Lamp settings. I use High for sports and Low for movies except of course for 3D titles. I should also point out this projector is very quiet. It is hard to tell when it is on. The Sony models have been the quietest I have had to date.
I am still reminding myself that this projector is not supposed to cost $6,000 or even $8,000. Actually if it weren't for the lack of digital adjustments I'd have to pinch myself. Sony says, "The Sony VPL-HW30ES 3D Home Cinema Projector is a very nice projector with 1300 lumens of brightness and a 70000:1 contrast ratio. Packed with exciting innovative features which are easy to use and control, you can experience enhanced immersive 3D movie content without having to leave your sofa." I am not even sure that justifies this amazing projector. We will have to wait and see what JVC, Epson and Panasonic have coming but SXRD has always owned LCD and with JVC's Lamp issues Sony is the odds on favorite. Champions are never crowned before a season starts but being ranked number one heading into it is not a bad place to be.
Next Sony model for Review: VPL-VW95ES.
Tyler, like the 30AES is proof that a STUD can come in a small package!
Thanks for reading my Review. For a place to purchase a 30AES at an excellent price feel free to call Noah at (630) 788 6624. He will be more than happy to assist you with any and all set up questions after you get it. Tell him JoeRod sent you! Let me know and thanks for your support.