Best Home Theater Projector: Sony VPL-HW45ES the best projector for a home theater

The best projector for a home theater. The Sony VPL-HW45ES is the best projector for a dedicated home theater, as it offers superb contrast proportions, accurate colors, lots of light, low entry delay for games and flexible configuration options that allow you to adapt to almost any Location. It usually sells for around $2,000, it costs about $1,000 less than anything else that offers comparable performance.g

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Best Home Theater Projector: Sony VPL-HW45ES the best projector for a home theater

A dedicated home theater projector is designed for a room that offers complete control of light. One of the main improvements in these projectors over the entry-level models is the ability to produce much darker blacks, which gives better contrast ratios, but you must eliminate the ambient light to appreciate this function. You should also pair the projector with a good screen, which will provide you with brighter and more accurate images. Finally, you also need a surround speaker system. Projectors designed for a dedicated home theater room do not have speakers, so they need a separate sound system, usually with a receiver.

We look for home theater projectors with a resolution of 1080p or higher, a pair of HDMI inputs and flexible installation options. Some high-contrast projection screens require that the projector is centered to work optimally, and we imagine that many people dedicating a room to a home theater system may not build it tailored for that purpose, so the DLP projectors require mounting above or below the center of the screen did not meet our criteria. And since few people still care about 3D support, we do not require it in the projectors we test.

Following these criteria, we chose to test four projectors for our most recent update of this guide. To discover how the projectors stacked against each other, we measured them using a test kit, which included an i1Pro2 spectrometer and a Klein K10-A colourimeter, as well as test patterns from an AVLab TPG DVD and an Integral HDFury. We test the light output, the contrast ratio, the color accuracy and the color temperature, and more. To read more about our tests, see our complete guide to home theater projectors.

Our selection

The Sony VPL-HW45ES is based on the high-end VPL-HW65ES, eliminating many of the advanced features that most people do not need, but maintaining almost identical performance. For almost everyone, the VPL-HW45ES is the best choice, as it offers large proportions of contrast, precise colors, low lag input for games, a flexible lens for easy installation, silent operation and abundant light output. At a lower price than the excellent VPL-HW40ES from last year (our previous selection), it's a great deal too.

The biggest reason to switch from a basic projector to the VPL-HW45ES is an improved contrast ratio. This model also has a built-in reference preset that gives you a very accurate picture of the box. The colors are rich and pure, but not pushed, and the textures are displayed with vivid clarity. The darker blacks allow the mailbox bars to disappear, make the night scenes much more realistic and give the image a lot more life.

In our tests, with the reduction of entry delay enabled, the entry delay fell from 106 ms to 22 ms. That is one of the lowest measures we have seen, better than the one we have obtained from any other projector that we have tested (and only surpassed by a television).

Update for better connectivity and color reproduction

We believe that the Sony VPL-HW45ES combination of ease of use and best-in-class picture quality makes it an easy choice for most home theaters. But it lacks the advanced connectivity options that require the highest-end configurations with some degree of automation, namely a 12 V trigger with IP control and an Ethernet port. If you need those ports, we recommend upgrading to Epson Home Cinema 5040UB. Epson offers you these features, along with an HDMI 2.0 input, slightly more accurate colors, the ability to display more of the HDTV color gamut, fully automatic lens control (screen aspect ratios other than 16: 9 without letterboxing ), the ability to display the extended DCI / P3 color gamut used in Blu-ray Ultra HD and some streaming content, an analog D-sub 15 input, a pixel shift function that attempts to show more details of the 4K content and a slight bump in general image quality (which you may not notice).

The Epson 5040UB offers an improved contrast ratio compared to the Sony VPL-HW45ES, but not a giant leap: we measure 25 percent more contrast. It also produces a sharper and brighter image than Sony's, producing around 30 percent more lumens and creating a more uniform and sharper image with its larger lens. We could see this result in our test patterns and in the real world content. It has a slightly slower entry delay, but at 31 ms, that's still pretty good.

In general, the Epson Home Cinema 5040UB offers improvements over the Sony VPL-HW45ES, but with the standard content, it is possible that the 50 percent price increase is more difficult to justify.