Sony's VPL-ES2 is based on LCD technology, which is traditionally cheaper than the alternative DLP (digital light processing). Nevertheless, its £655 price tag is impressively low. For this sort of money you shouldn't expect a host of eye-popping features, but the 1,500 Ansi lumens brightness equals the output of the stunningly portable NEC LT20 (see below) that's specifically tailored for use on the road and costs almost £1,000 more. Strangely its external styling lacks Sony's usual elan, leaving the VPL-ES2 looking inoffensive rather than innovative.
It's not the lightest of projectors, but its 2.8kg compares favourably with other models in this price range - if you need easy portability, you're going to have to set your budget rather higher than £655.
In fact, many of the Sony's specifications are exactly what you should expect. You won't get a digital connector, for instance, while the native resolution only goes up to 800x600 (SVGA). However, whereas other low-priced projectors can be a touch noisy, the Sony can be dropped to an operating noise of just 33dB in economy mode.
The Sony is quite capable of making itself seen in low-light conditions, but image quality is where the Sony doesn't quite match up to the competition. Managing a merely adequate 350:1 contrast ratio, it doesn't quite hit the same depth or clarity as some of its DLP rivals.
Another advantage of DLP is images don't suffer the chicken-wire effect, where you can see the LCD grid used to create the picture. At times during testing, the Sony's picture wasn't as pure as it could be.