Sony VPLHW40ES Projector Review – Best for 2D movies and gaming

by Jane on January 21, 2016

The Sony VPLHW40ES 1080p projector first hit the market in the Spring of 2014 and quickly became one of the most, if not the most popular high definition projectors. Upon its release there were no other models that could match its performance, features and price.

We don’t want to say the initial price in 2014 was anything to squawk at (around $2500) but for the level of performance and high-end features provided, anyone who knew anything about 1080p high definition home movie projectors knew this was an exceptional model.

Once people got their hands on it the buzz started online and the experts were rating it higher in performance and viewing experience compared to models that were priced hundreds of dollars more. In our opinion, the HW40ES single-handedly shook up the industry. It forced other companies to response with lower priced high quality options.

Sony VPLHW40ES review


Not only does it provide a brilliant picture for home movie viewing it also has a slick looking shell. It definitely will go a long way in making you look smart.

Our review might have missed the boat

As we said above, the Sony VPLHW40ES first hit the market in 2014. And we are finally writing our review in 2016. Why did we wait so long? We felt there were already so many reviews, as well as, so many people talking about it in popular forums there wasn’t much value we could add with our two cents. Everything had been covered.

So why now in 2016? As we mentioned at the beginning this projector originally hit the market priced at around $2500.

Everyone was waiting for the price to drop. For almost two years, most every day, we would come across some one asking has the price dropped or when do you think it will drop… It was sick!

So the reason we are finally writing this review is because we can add some value by telling every person who reads this and those who were waiting for the price of the Sony VPLHW40ES to be discounted, it finally has dropped in 2016! See at AMAZON. Now you can all buy it as you talk about for almost two-years.

Is it still a good buy?

It’s no spring chicken, as we write this review in 2016, this Sony model has been on the market for almost two years. But it’s comparable performance is still excellent and the features provided are still top notch. Truthfully, beside 4K resolution there has been no huge significant technological jumps in 1080p projectors.

Sure, there has been small incremental improvements in existing technology but no breakthrough innovations. So yes, even after being on the market for around two-years the Sony VPLHW40ES is still a brilliant projector for viewing home movies and also gaming.

Features to know about

1.6 times zoom lensAllows for great flexibility and extremely easy set-up. This allows the projector to sit at varying distances from the screen. Then all you need to do is adjust the throw distance to fit your screen size.

Left and Right Lens Shift  Another great convenience factor. With this the projector will not need to be in the center of the screen. The lens can be shift up to 25% left or right and 70% up or down.

Interested in viewing 3D content  Compared to this Sony, there are better models for viewing 3D but the viewing experience is still very compelling. The 3D mode significantly reduces brightness output so we recommend viewing in the darkest room environment as possible.

Rated as one of the best for gaming This model has a special gaming mode that reduces lag time to just 24 milliseconds. We have play fast moving first person shooters games with no perceivable lag.

RemoteLarge in size and the buttons are back-lite which makes it easy to control the features even in the dark. The remote doesn’t control the lens shift features these will have to be down manually.

Lamp Life If used in economy mode the life is 5000 hours, if used in the highest setting the life is 2000 hours. The current cost of a new lamp, going by 2016 prices is around $350.

Fan Noise This is one of the quietest fans we never heard! Practically zero noise on this model.

Overall picture quality and viewing experience

Every time you turn on the Sony VPLHW40ES whether to watch a movie or play your favorite gaming console your going to feel like a million bucks! AHHH… This must be heaven!

For one, buying it at the new discounted price, you will know you paid a whole lot less than others to begin with. In fact, you will probably have enough money left over to buy top quality screen to go along with it.

After saving money, then there’s the picture quality and color display you will experience. Which is truly brilliant!

For brightness you get a maximum of 1700 lumens, not the brightest model on the market but still very capable even in a lite room. There are a few different viewing modes, the maximum brightness can be reduced depending on which mode you are in. For example, already mentioned was the 3D mode which probably reduces brightness by 50% of its 1700 max.

The on screen images produced look very clean and well balanced. The blacks are crisp and don’t bleed into other colors as you may have experienced with other projectors or even a LCD TV. The contrast between lighter colors and blacks is highly impressive in this model.

Final word on the Sony VPLHW40ES 1080p projector

Even before the price was lowered we were high on this model. Along with many, many others – we had this Sony rated as the best model you could buy for under $3000. Now that the price has been lowered it’s an even better deal. There are still no projectors in the $3000 and under price range we would rank higher as far as quality goes.

We can’t predict the future, there will be new models released in the Spring of 2016. And it’s reasonable to think because of this sudden drop in the price of the VPLHW40ES there will be something new and better hitting the market soon but we can only assume if this happens this new model will also be priced above. This is only speculation on our part.

Overall, if the VPLHW40ES fits your budget in 2016 we would highly recommend this model as the top choice. There are two models similarly priced, the Epson 5030UB and the Panasonic PT-AE8000. These are both quality models and the Sony’s main competition in it’s price range.

Most people agree the Sony is the best overall model but there are some areas where these alternatives preform better. For instance, if you are looking for the best 3D projector, the Epson 5030UB is superior in this area. But if you are wanting the best for normal 2D movies and gaming, in our option, the Sony is the best choice in this price range.

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