So, with things in fresh in my mind, here are my initial thoughts of the HW50ES vs the HW30ES
The HW50ES is:
1.) Brighter than the HW30. The difference is very, very noticeable. It's absolutely blindingly bright on my 100" 1.0 gain AT screen on high lamp. It's still really bright on low lamp mode. I may even have to dig around in the service menu to lower the maximum aperture of the iris. 3D brightness is excellent (locked to high, of course) on a screen my size.
2.) More color uniform than the HW30. One of my biggest beefs with projectors is color uniformity, and having had absolutely no luck with numerous 3LCD projectors from Epson and Panasonic, SXRD is a relief in many ways in terms of uniformity. While not quite as uniform as the JVC X30/RS45 I had (which was nigh-on perfect), the 50ES I have now is very close. No obvious tinges to the image on a white screen. My 30ES was "close" to uniform, but some random patches of "green" around the screen were occasionally (and I mean very rarely) noticeable on bright scenes. It didn't affect skin tones, thankfully, but it was there. 99.9% of people would never notice, but I'm a uniformity junkie.. I'm sure there were better examples of HW30s out there.
3.) Sharper. The pixel makeup is very, very similar between the HW30 and the HW50, potentially even the same, with Reality Creation set to off. My HW30 was very uniformly sharp, and I'm happy to see my HW50 is very uniformly sharp, too. Panel alignment looked spot on, though it's nice that the HW50 has more control over this than the HW30.
4.) Sharper x2. The HW50's Reality Creation really is impressive, but even at its lowest level it brings out the existing grain in the picture and makes it more... grainy. This means, for newer digitally animated movies, Reality Creation is astonishing, but for regular movies with grain it can be a tad problematic. The problem is that with Reality Creation off it makes the image look comparatively soft/blurry. I'll have to play with it some more, but it would be great if Reality Creation allowed lower levels of tweaking. Even the minimum level is maybe a little too much....
5.) More convenient. The built-in 3D emitter is very, very useful, and it seems to have eliminated an issue I had with my Blu-ray player, a Sony BDP-S5100. The problem I was having was the player wasn't responding to remote inputs (either the original remote or my Harmony Ultimate) when I was watching 3D movies on the HW30 with Sony's external emitter. I think there was some IR interference going on. So far, this has not been an issue with the HW50 with the built-in emitter. Also, I had read about some buzzing with the HW50's initial run when watching 3D movies, but at any settings my HW50 does not buzz (I'm extremely sensitive to noise).
6.) Louder. Technically, the HW50 is maybe 1 db quieter than the HW30, but in my testing, things aren't quite so simple. My HW50 has a very slight murmuring/grinding from the fan. I sit fewer than 2 feet from my projector, so I notice sound very easily. My HW30 was just a tad quieter, but, much like the picture uniformity issues on my HW30, 99.9% of people won't notice. Thankfully, when you have any sound on, it's a non-issue.
7.) Better at 3D. This surprised me, somewhat. I'll qualify the statement, though. I was using the Playstation 3D glasses with my HW30, and now I'm using the Sony TDG-PJ1 that came with the projector. Not sure what it is, but I perceive less flicker with these glasses + HW50. Unfortunately I can't say if it's the projector difference, the glasses difference, the brightness difference etc. All I know is there's less flicker. Still not Panasonic 7000/8000/Epson 5020 good (in terms of flicker), but still... less is better. Ghosting appears similar with the HW30 vs the HW50. I found the best glasses setting to be level 3, since level 4 brought out some crosstalk in some harder scenes (my favorite being the silhouettes during the Transformers 3 end-credits scene). Level 3 reduces that ghosting to almost invisible. More testing needed, of course! I'll get around to testing my Playstation 3D glasses with the HW50 at some point.
8.) Contrast...ier! Things just seem to pop more on the HW50 vs the HW30. How much of that is due to the additional brightness? I cannot say. But it does appear to have more out-of-the-box contrast. The downside to this is that because there's so much more brightness, the dynamic iris tends to be a little more noticeable. Not objectionably so, but it's definitely there.
9.) Better at uniform blacks. My HW30ES had a brighter top-right corner to the image. Only really noticeable on very dark scenes or end credits etc, but it was there. My HW50ES has no noticeable bright corners, which is really a surprise, since I was expecting similar results to the HW30.
Overall, I like the HW50ES a lot so far. I think Reality Creation and the additional brightness are the biggest improvements, but the whole package is quite impressive.
Sorry for being a year late on these impressions. Edited by WilliamG - 10/9/13 at 11:47am