For 3D, HDMI is mandatory, and the projector has two HDMI inputs. For legacy analog HD sources, there’s a single component video input. There’s an analog RGB computer video input, and the projector has an RS-232C serial port for connection to a home automation controller. That’s supplanted by an IR input, which can also be used with some outboard controllers. But, there are no trigger outputs, which potentially would have been useful for motorized screen control. For connection to the outboard 3D infrared “blaster”, there’s an RJ-45 port.
Here’s where things get interesting. The 3D infrared sync emitter needs to be connected via a LAN-type cable terminated with standard RJ-45-type plugs. But, Sony doesn’t provide a cable with the projector bundle. That’s not such a big deal, as LAN cables are relatively cheap and widely available, and any custom installer can make a cable of suitable length on the spot. Online cable e-tailer monoprice.com offers a 50-foot LAN cable for the princely sum of $6.29 (and in your choice of 10 colors too).
When I placed the emitter near the front of the projector and oriented it toward the screen, there wasn’t enough infrared strength to get a reliable sync signal with the 3D glasses. Other 3D projectors tested by The Perfect Vision that used an outboard 3D emitter had no problem with sending a strong enough IR sync signal to the screen and back to the viewing area. With the Sony 3D sync emitter, however, it will be necessary to place the emitter very near the front projection screen itself, which may require a long run of cable. If the projector is to be professionally installed, that’s not such a big deal as any competent installer can easily create and route a custom-length LAN cable, but for do-it-yourself types, this needs to be taken into consideration.
On Screen Display
Unlike Sony’s current flat panel HDTVs, which typically feature a PS3-type interface with lots of colorful icons, the VPL-HW30ES OSD has a more sedate look, relying on simple white text against a dark background. It’s certainly legible enough and, unlike some other OSDs, allows the displays for many control adjustments to stay on screen long enough to be useful, which greatly aids installation and setup.
There’s a lot to like about this Sony’s remote control. First, it’s backlit, with a pleasing soft blue backlight color. The buttons themselves are large enough to accommodate text and numerals, and there are direct access buttons for many picture adjustments. The cursor keypad is surrounded by a trio of large buttons, but there’s no Exit or Return button to be found. When making adjustments, you have to exit the OSD via the Menu button and then re-enter the menu to get to other controls, which is a pain.
Video enthusiasts will certainly appreciate the extensive range of picture adjustment controls (professional video calibrators will too). At the default settings the picture is heavily saturated, with rather garish colors. However, it’s possible to adjust the set so that it matches the established HD color standard (Rec. 709), and on the test bench once properly adjusted, the VPL-HW30ES scored an A+, as good as I’ve ever seen with any projector.
• Color: 45
• Hue: 0
• Sharpness: Minimum
• Picture Mode: Cinema 2
• Color Temperature: Low 1
• Gamma: 8
• MotionFlow: User preference
• Film Mode: Auto 1
• 1:1 (pixel-for-pixel) Mode: Overscan Off
• Advanced Iris: Off
• Color Space: Normal
• Mosquito NR: Off
• Block NR: Off
3D Blu-ray Evaluation: Sports Illustrated 2011 Swimsuit Edition
Shot at various locations on the Hawaiian island of Maui, this HD 3D video looks just great, with a pleasing 3D effect that provides noticeable depth without any flicker or ghosting artifacts. When in 3D mode, the Sony is automatically configured for maximum brightness (lamp mode is set to high, and the iris is set to fixed wide open).
The only real way to judge color accuracy visually is with flesh tones, and yes, there’s obviously flesh in abundance on this Blu-ray. With the Color Space set to Normal, and with the Color control dialed back a bit, the color quality is both rich and realistic without over-emphasis.