Sony VPL-HW65ES: Review of the projector!

Presentation of the Sony VPL-HW65ES

The Sony VPL-HW65ES, a high-end 1080p home theater projector, has now been in a detailed review and we would like to share it with you, dear readers!

The projector Sony VPL-HW65ES was released at the end of the year 2015 and is currently listed for 2999€.

Thank you to Cornelius Zorn from Munich Home Solutions for providing us the Sony VPL-HW65ES for this review!


The Sony VPL-HW65ES is a Full HD 3D projector using the SRXD/LCOS technology. This is the same LCD reflective technology that was used on the bigger brother Sony VPL-VW520ES 4K projector that we reviewed previously. It is also very similar to the JVC D-ILA technology found in the JVC DLA-X5000 reviewed a few months ago.  Also Epson is now using  of late the same LCD reflective panels for it’s flag-ship 4K laser projector: the Epson EH-LS10000 (that we reviewed and now also own personally).

The design of Sony’s VPL-HW projector line has stayed the same since 2008 and the apparition of the Sony VPL-HW10ES. The curves are elegant and the Sony HW line has a reputation to be very silent.

However, you cannot trust only the appearances since Sony projectors went quite a way up since 2008 and even since last year with the Sony VPL-HW55ES.

The projector’s weight is 9 kg and it measures 40,74 x 17,92 x 46,39 cm. It is an average sized projector, similar to its main concurrent: the Epson EH-TW9200W (still using older standard LCD technology) .

The throw ratio, which is the distance of the projector  to the screen divided by the picture width, varies between 1,36 – 2,16:1. That means that you can get a picture of width 2,5m with only 3,4m between the lens of the projector and the screen.

The Sony VPL-VW65ES has a manual zoom and lens shift.

The lens shift allows you to mechanically shift the image without any distortion: 

  • Vertical: 71% max (up and down with horizontal centered)
  • Horizontal: 25% max (left and right with vertical centered).

This means that the projector can be easily set up in almost every position.Sony VPL-HW65ES-white

The menu of the projector is accessible with the remote control, but also with a side panel on the projector. This can be very helpful in order to use the projector if the remote control is not available or even lost.

The projector Sony VPL-HW65ES has all connections needed for Full-HD blu-ray playback with 2 HDMI 1.4a. Sony VPL-HW65ES connections

The remote control allows for a quick access to all important functionalities like the frame interpolation (motion flow) or Reality Creation (for sharpness improvements). There is also a button to activate the backlight of the remote which is helpful while watching a movie in a dark room. The buttons of the remote control are large enough but the remote stays light and compact and lies easily in the hand.Sony VPL-HW65ES remote control

Test results of the Sony VPL-HW65ES

The Sony VPL-HW65ES currently sold under 3000€ gives a high-end home-theater experience. The Sony VPL-HW65ES has a high brightness, surprisingly good blacks and a very good motion fluidity. And thanks to the presence of a Lens-shift,  setting-up the projector to the screen becomes a lot easier.

The plastic lens gives a soft touch to the picture but activating Reality Creation compensates for it. Also, we did not find the 3D experience exceptional with the presence of ghosting and 96hz flickering.

So, if you are looking for a projector in the range 2000-3000€, and 3D is not your most important criterion, the Sony VPL-VW65ES is for sure one of the best choices at the moment!

  • Casino Royale


Projector running noise

The projector is pretty silent in low mode. And the noise is still acceptable in high mode. However the previous HW generation were more silent.

We did not have to complain about a buzzing noise coming from the power source like some people mentioned on the internet. This problem seems to have been solved in the mean time by Sony in the production line.


Out of the box, the Sony VPL-HW65ES is not the sharpest projector around but while watching movies it still does the job nicely (especially if using Reality Creation, keep reading!).

Unlike the single DLP projectors reputed for their sharpness, the 3LCD projectors (like the Sony VPL-VW65ES), as the name indicates, possess three color matrices for red, green and blue, which are supposed to be aligned perfectly. Naturally, in reality the overlap of the 3LCD matrices is not perfect, often referred to as convergence problem.

Our exemplar showed acceptable convergence, that did not especially require any correction. Still, if needed, the numerical correction works well and can be done without much effort . Sony VPL-HW65ES Sharpness

Sony has however one trick up its sleeves to give you the sharpness pop you expect from a 3000€ projector.

The trick is named “Reality Creation”, and when activated the picture get sharpened quite smartly and looks way more attractive.

On the slider from Oblivion below, you can compare Reality Creation: Deactivated and Activated on Level 30. 

Reality Creation 0 vs. 30

You can see for yourself how effective is Reality Creation, even on a low level such as 30. The stones appear a lot more detailed as well as the grass when Reality Creation is activated. And this is on your small computer or smartphone screen. The difference on 2m50 is quite more visible than that.

Normally, you never get a free meal. With the magic sharpness increase should come negative aftereffects. We know this kind of after-effects very well. The first is ringing (too accentuated contours creating a kind of white delimitation around objects) and the second is accentuated background noise.

On the older Sony VPL-HW50ES (that we  have owned personally at a time) and on the VPL-HW55ES (that we have seen many times), we could not bear the accentuated noise coming with the “Reality Creation” even on its lowest setting. So Reality Creation had to stay deactivated since the negative was overwhelming the positives.

With the Sony VPL-HW65Es, Sony is now using the same algorithm and associated hardware as on the higher-end 4K projector Sony VPL-VW520ES that we reviewed last year. This changes everything to our eyes and we now consider Reality Creation as one of the best sharpness tools around.

We strongly advice to use Reality Creation and we found level 30 to be a good level to have the sharpness increase without the associated picture noise increase. The picture stays natural but is way more detailed.

Bonus picture:

Since we think that the Darbee Vision (DVP-5000) is also one of the best treatments to increase perceived sharpness of a picture while keeping it natural, we wanted to see what happens if you try to combine Reality Creation and Darbee treatments together.

You can see the results for yourself with the slider below where we compare: “No treatment at all” VS “Reality Creation on 15 + Darbee on 35”

Move the mouse over the picture to compare the 2 pictures.

Darbee Comparison

You actually can perfectly combine both together if you put Reality Creation at a lesser level like 15 and Darbee on 35. Look at all the details you get compared to the raw one!

Motion fluidity

The Sony projectors reputation for motion fluidity is a good one. And the Sony VPL-HW65ES follows this reputation easily.

Even with the “Motion Flow” (name given to frame interpolation by Sony) deactivated, the 24p blu-ray motion was very good.

But 24 images per second, even if perfectly rendered is not much when watching on a big screen, and travelling scenes can suffer from this.

That is why you have at your disposition the frame interpolation to create pictures in between the 24 pictures per second.

Sony names it “Motion flow” and proposes various modes.

We preferred the “Motion Flow” mode called “Smooth Low” where the motion stayed natural with very little of the so called “Soap opera effect” and all the while a very effective rendering of the motion fluidity even in the fastest travelling.

We also find that activating “Frame interpolation” lets you enjoy the sharpness of the movies even more, especially in fast pace action based movies. Naturally, if the movie is already in 48p on 60p you will not need such an artifice but we are yet still waiting for such movies to come on Blu-ray. And so frame interpolation is the next best thing.

Out of the box colors

To enjoy your favorite blu-ray to the fullest, you would like to have the colors as close as possible to what the movie maker wanted them to be.

On a 1080p blu-ray, the goal is to match the REC 709 color space to get accurate color reproduction.

The color reproduction on your screen will depend on:

  • the color as displayed by the projector
  • the color tint of your screen: what can look like white is maybe not as color neutral as you would think. Many screens have a slight blue push
  • your environment: wall colors, lights etc…

That said, if we suppose that your screen and your environment are perfectly color neutral, then you want the projector to match the REC709 color space as close as possible.

Calibrated to REC709 means:

  • a white at 6500K (looks slightly warm) and all gray levels (the grayscale) also at 6500K with the required perfect balance of red, blue and green.
  • the primary and secondary colors matching the REC709 color space for all brightness and saturation levels
  • a gamma of 2.2 which is the relation between coded brightness on the blu-ray and displayed brightness on your screen: % output= (% input)^2.2.
  • having accurate color reproduction with the right blue for the sky, the right green for the trees, the right red for strawberries and finally the right skin tones for your favorite actor in the movies!

To measure the colorimetry and if needed calibrate the projector, we use the colorimeter i1 Display Pro profiled to the spectrophotometer i1 Pro 2 with the software Chromapure.

In the slide-show below, we have measured all the color modes available on the Sony VPL-VW65ES to look for the best one “out of the box”.

For each preset you can see the Chromapure results for the grayscale and the CIE diagram for a saturation of 100% and brightness amplitude of 100%. The projector is positioned with zoom MAX. The lamp had 82 hours.

  • Reference

We found out that the “Reference mode” was extremely close to the REC709 color space. This is therefore the mode we would advise you to use to achieve the highest color fidelity for movies.

This is an excellent result from Sony to propose a mode already almost “REC709- pre-calibrated”. Congrats to their engineers!

Generally, if you have the possibility to have the projector calibrated for your screen and your room environment, you will get even better results.

The projector was however so good out of the box that a calibration is not really necessary.

Color calibration

As we wrote previously, the Sony VPL-HW65ES has an excellent colorimetry out of the box in the “Reference Mode”. But you can always try to get even better color accuracy and look even more in details.

Calibrating also gives us the opportunity to see how responsive are the controls to adjust colors. This can become important as the projector lamp gets older and a color drift occurs or if your screen or environment is not perfectly color neutral.

Ideally, you would like to have a flat gamma curve of 2.2 and a CIE94 DeltaE under 2 for all colors and the grayscale. Furthermore, you want to adjust the brightness and contrast to the right level. With that, the black will not be crushed, the white levels will not be clipped and the color will be natural and as close to to the movie producer’s choice as possible.

The calibration is based on the “Reference” mode and the lamp power put on low.

For the color calibration, we used  patterns of 75% saturation and 75% brightness.


  • Grayscale & RGB analysis:

The Grayscale after calibration is even closer to 6500K for all levels and look excellent. We however still see a very slight push of blue for the 40% level grey.

Sony VPL-HW65ES Calibration RGB Histogram

  • Gamma analysis:

After calibration the gamma curve did not move because we did not touch it. We tried a higher gamma preset to match the 2.2 but it was too high and we settled with the original 2.1 gamma out of the box. It still looks good.

Sony VPL-HW65ES Calibration Gamma
  • In-depth analysis of all saturations levels

For 75% brightness, the Sony VPL-HW65ES shows an excellent tracking for the saturations 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% REC709 within the CIE diagramm.

Color distribution is very linear. Very good results from Sony!

Sony VPL-HW65ES Calibration ACM CIE 75

For all colors and saturations the deltaE stays below 3, which is a good result. The average error for almost all colors is below 2.

Sony VPL-HW65ES Calibration ACM 75 deltaE

  • Color Checker

The Color Checker of Chomapure is a collection of the most important colors for movies, including many different skin tones. The Sony VPL-HW65ES showed excellent results with many deltaE values below 2 and the maximum at 3.1. This is a proof for Sony’s excellent color reproduction after calibration.

Sony VPL-HW65ES Calibration Color Checker

Calibration Conclusion

The projector Sony VPL-HW65ES was easy to calibrate and the controls were responsive.

In the end, the colorimetry is excellent and you can enjoy the movies with a high color fidelity!


The Sony VPL-HW65ES impressed us with a high contrast and relatively deep blacks with many shadow details that we were not expecting. It is clearly better than the Sony VPL-HW50ES that we used to have at home.

The dynamic iris is also working well without too much pumping effect. When enabled, it creates even deeper black and increases the intra-contrast in scenes such as the one below taken from “Batman – The Dark Knight” where every single light pops out.

The Dark Knight

Since contrast seen at the screen is our favorite subject, we have created innovative contrast patterns. These patterns enable us to better represent the contrast performance of a projector relative to the brightness of the projected pictures.

Also our optimized room has the advantage of being transformable into a room with white walls and ceiling just by opening the curtains. Thus it is easy to compare the contrast performance of the projector in 2 very different rooms:

  • with opened curtains (comparable to a living room with white walls, reality of home theater in many homes) –> Living Room with white walls
  • with closed curtains (optimized room with black floor, ceiling and walls) –> Optimized Rom
  • measurement at the projector lens (highest contrast possible, but not reachable in any room) –> Ideal perfect Room

Obviously, we do not let any light come from the outside into any of “our rooms” for any of the measurements. Without the projector light, the room is a perfect black hole regardless of the curtain position.

You can see on the picture below the major difference in contrast with curtains opened and curtains closed:

ANSI contrast Epson EH-TW9200 living room vs optimized room

You can see in the first table below the results of our measurements after calibration with the projector zoom maxed out:

It is good to know that having the projector zoom maxed out means:

  • having the biggest picture possible from a certain distance from the screen
  • having the lowest ON-OFF contrast possible out of the projector.
  • having the highest ANSI contrast (black and white checkerboard) possible out of the projector
  • having the maximum light output

With the projector using the zoom min, on the contrary, you will get the maximum ON-OFF contrast, but the minimum ANSI contrast and less light output.

Many reviewers do not specify for which zoom the are measuring contrast and you then cannot compare the measurements with others.

Sony VPL-HW65ES Contrast Table

The Sony VPL-HW65ES measured at the Lens after calibration, zoom maxed, Iris opened has:

  • an ON-OFF contrast of 7028:1 –> this is a great value especially since this is measured with the zoom max!
  • a 1% white contrast of 5431:1 –> this is also a good value and even more important to us than ON-OFF contrast. This really tells you how good the projector is for real dark content.
  • an ANSI contrast (50% white checkerboard) of 364:1 –> Excellent value for a non DLP projector. It’s a higher value than we have measured until now on both JVC and Epson projectors.

To visualize these numbers, here the resulting 3 contrast curves.

The scale on the contrast axis is logarithmic to represent the perception of the human eye. For example your eyes will see the same difference between a contrast increase from 1000:1 to 2000:1 and a contrast increase from 10000:1 to 20000:1.

Look at the red curve how the white walls and ceiling kill the contrast of this great projector as the brightness of the pictures increases!

Solutions to get the  best contrast out of the projectors are:

  • Getting a dedicated black room and black velvet everywhere (difficult)
  • Have a reversible system like black curtains on the side walls and ceiling that you use only for movies (medium difficulty)
  • Use a special technical screen to filter the reflecting light from the walls and keep a high contrast (easiest solution)
    • For Example: DNP Supernova 08-85, Draper React 3.0, Stewart Firehawk 1.4,  Xtrem Screen Daylight 0.9, etc…)

Sony VPL-HW65ES Contrast Curves

We have then measured the calibrated projector for every configuration of zoom, iris and lamp power in order to give you:

  • The ON-OFF contrast
  • The ANSI contrast
  • The brightness (Lumens)

The ON-OFF contrast without Iris varies between: 7000:1 to 10000:1. Those are excellent values! When closing the Iris, you can even reach 18000:1 at the cost of brightness and ANSI contrast.

The ANSI contrast reaches its maximum in the High power mode with zoom max: 377:1 which is an excellent value for a non DLP projector.

This confirms the impression in the movies of high plasticity due to a combination of high ON-OFF and ANSI contrast.

Sony VPL-HW65ES On-Off Ansi Brightness

The graphs below shows you that closing the Iris is not something only positive for the contrast for all kinds of pictures. In fact, above 2% white in the picture, you actually have better contrast with iris still open. Below it, you have a better contrast with the iris closed.

Sony VPL-HW65ES Contrast Curves Iris

In numbers:


Finally, as displayed below, we measured the ANSI contrast directly on our screen in our optimized room with black velvet curtains on the sides and the ceiling.

For this, we used a tweaked Minolta LS100 with a protostar velvet pipe for precise measurement within 1° angle.

We measured the white and black values for each black and white field for the below contrast pattern and it’s reversed image.

When doing the ratio of both white and black luminances for each field, you can get a contrast per field.

See how it varies depending on the position. This is non uniformity of the projector but also our room.

The trend seems to be having the lowest contrast in the middle and the maximum contrast in the corners.

The value itself of a true measured ANSI contrast on the screen in our room above 300:1 is extremely impressive. And for everyone optimizing their room as we did, you will enjoy the plasticity of your movies with the Sony VPL-HW65ES!

Sony VPL-HW65ES Ansi

Brightness & Screen size recommandation

The Sony VPL-HW65ES is a bright projector (but less than our last reviewed projector the JVC DLA-X5000) capable of illuminating big screens up to 3m width without breaking a sweat.

This high brightness gives also a vivid feeling to the movies. But do not overdo it or your eyes will tire pretty quickly. You should think about closing the iris to adjust the brightness if it is too much for your screen size.

After calibration in the low lamp mode the Sony VPL-HW65ES puts out 710 lumens. This is perfect for a screen width between 2.3m and 3.1m. For smaller screens like the one we used for the review (2m48 width), you could close the iris a bit.

Going from the low lamp to the high lamp mode multiplies the brightness by a factor of around 1.7.

Closing the iris completely results in getting around 50% of the original brightness with opened iris.

Please click on the table below to get the brightness for all predefined modes and the calibrations. A recommendation for the right screen size is also given.

Sony VPL-HW65ES Brightness

The highest number of Lumens is achieved in high power mode with 1206 calibrated Lumens. It could be useful to watch football on a bright day or to illuminate a very big screen of almost 4m width!

Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Positives & Negatives


– Very good motion fluidity and frame interpolation (Motion flow: smooth low)

– Very good ON-OFF contrast

– Very good ANSI contrast for a non DLP projector

– Quiet on low lamp mode

– Excellent color accuracy out of the box in reference mode

– Good calibration controls

– Good brightness to light up big screens!

– Good brightness in 3D

– New Reality Creation increases sharpness without much artifacts like accentuated noise



– No motorized Lens and Lens-shift

– Soft picture due to the use of a plastic Lens without Reality Creation

– 3D with 96Hz refresh rate tiring for the eyes

– No compatibility with Bluray 4K/ HDR/ REC2020 signals




  1. Hi,

    thank you for this great test.
    To what value did you set the general iris openin during the tests. (from 0-100)
    What value do you recommend for a 100 inch screen in a living room?
    I’m getting a bad conrast in bright scenes with a few black or dark colors.
    Can I measure the contrast by myself? I own a i1 Display Pro.


    • Hello Fabian,
      glad you liked our review!

      If you read attentively through the review, you will see that we measure the contrast and the brightness with both the iris FULLY open and FULLY closed.

      You should set up the iris setting to your liking. 🙂 There are guidelines, but they are more for a Batcave. If the picture is to bright, just close the iris a bit.

      The bad contrast does not come for the projector for bright scenes wit black in it. It comes from your living rooms with the walls that reflects the light back to your screen which kills the contrast!

      You should think of a curtain system like our (side+ceilling) or a technical screen (DNp Supernova, Elitescreen 5D, Draper React 3.0, Xtremscreen Daylight etc…)

      And yes you can measure the ON-FF contrast by yourself with the i1 display pro. Eeven the ANSI contrast with a bit of tweaking. 😉


  2. Ciao,

    please do not forget to investigate the bad problem that occur in the last period to many Sony projectors, both 2k and 4k, with gamut that shrinks and gamma that collapse togheter with C.R. falling down sometimes from 4000:1 to even below 1000:1 in less then few hundreds hours.. you can find detailed info, and many claims, aboyt that in hi-fi / / avs forum etc.

    very bad problems, many unhappy customers

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