Sony VPL-AW15 Bravia Home Theater Projector – Overview

A more dissapointing showing still, for a projector claiming over 1000 lumens, is the measurement of the AW15 in Dynamic mode.

Dissapointing, but not shocking, considering many projectors don’t hit their claims. This Sony, though performs worse than average in that regard with only 653 lumens. Note that the slightly higher rated Epson Home Cinema 400 easily beat it’s spec, making it more than twice as bright as the Sony (and that is a huge difference). Also consider the not drastically more expensive Panasonic PT-AX100U which actually beat its spec slightly with more than 2000 lumens – three times as bright!

For these measurements the zoom lens was set as close to the middle position as I could get it, so it will be a bit brighter in full wide angle, and dimmer in full telephoto.

Since I mentioned the Sanyo PLV-Z5 as a direct competitor, and another one of the dimmer projectors; even the PLV-Z5 looks bright by comparison. It has a lot more modes, but consider. Best mode (full power lamp) Pure Cinema 262 lumens with iris closed, 304 open.

However it has a nice compromise brighter Cinema mode called Brilliant Cinema, that can put out 540 lumens. And when you need real “horsepower”, it’s Vivid mode does 861, and Dynamic mode 963, about 45% brighter than the Sony. The Sanyo PLV-Z5′s Livingroom mode, which might be the closest to the Standard mode on the Sony, recorded 559 lumens.

Sony VPL-AW15 Projector: Lamp Life and Replacement

Sony is one of the few projector manufacturers that does not publish average lamp life specifications. (Another that comes to mind is Sanyo.) Therefore the best I can do is suggest that lamp life performance is average, which would be around 2000 hours with lamp in full power mode (which most of you would use, since the Sony isn’t that bright to begin with.

In low power mode, lamp life would probably increase to 2500 to 3000 hours, which is typical. Truth is, lamps vary significantly in life expectancy. Having a 2000 hour rated lamp, doesn’t guaranty 2000 hours life. In fact, probably half of the lamps would not make it to 2000 hours, and probably 25% wouldn’t make it to 1500 hours. There are, however, no reliable numbers in the industry, to provide more accurate predictions.

As to replacing the lamp, the door for the lamp, is on the bottom of the projector, and will be partially covered by a ceiling mount. As a result, to replace the lamp, the Sony AW15 projector will have to be unmounted from the ceiling mount.

Sony VPL-AW15 Projector: Projector Screen Recommendations

With its good black levels, and less than stellar brightness, I would generally recommend a white surface screen, with a gain of 1.0 to 1.4. You can, of course go with higher gain screens, keeping aware of the tendency for them to hot spot a bit, and to have a narrow viewing cone. Remember, if you go with a higher gain screen – say 1.8 or higher, such tendencies are greater, if the projector is mounted closer to the screen. As a result, there is a trade-off. Mounting the projector further back, produces a less bright image, but less of a hotspot and slightly wider viewing angle.

For a fixed screen, Carada’s Brilliant White immediately comes to mind, along with one of Elite’s white surface screens, and Da-lite’s Cinemavision. I don’t see the need for an “HC” – high contrast version. For pull-downs or motorized, Da-lite, Elite and others have various screens that will go well, and I would probably say go for the 1.3 to 1.5 gain rather than the 1.0 or 1.1 variety.

Assuming screens in that 1.3 gain range, I would not recommend the Sony AW15 to be paired with screens larger than 100″ diagonal, even if you can fully darken your room. You can, of course go larger with a 1.8 or 2.5 gain screen, and are willing to “suffer” the limitations, that come with such high gain solutions. Another alternative is to look at some of the new breed of “lights on screens”, but sadly they tend to cost a lot more than the Sony, so if you have the bucks there are other combinations of projector and screen that would serve you better.

Sony VPL-AW15 Projector: Calibration

Pretty straightforward. Out of the box, in Cinema mode, the color temperature was a little warm, especially in the lower ranges.

100 IRE 6482K
80 IRE 6532K
50 IRE 6202K
30 IRE 5871K
After applying the following changes to the RGB settings, adjusting the RGB came out this way:
RGB gain Red 0 Green 0 Blue 0
RGB bias Red -9 Green +1 Blue 0
and yielded:
100 IRE 6702
80 IRE 6735
50 IRE 6489
30 IRE 6387

This reduced the spread in color temperature from about 650K from top to bottom, to only 315K, very tight, and about as good as it gets.

Other notes, Dynamic mode is extremely cool, with Color Temp on High, a way too bluish, 10,725K temperature. Knocking down the color temp to 9485K, still too cool, dropped lumens to only 514, from 653. Since this is the “brute force” mode, you’ll probably want the maximum lumens.

Standard mode, yielded a Color Temp of 8214K, very nice, just a little higher than the ideal range for TV viewing (typically between 7500K and 8000K), but more than acceptable, as visible in thisHD image from the Superbowl:

Click Image to Enlarge

Sony VPL-AW15 Projector: Image Noise

In the rush to get the Sony back to Sony quickly, before I left on vacation, I somehow never ran my Silicon Optix test disk, which has tests for jaggies, motion artifacts, general noise, and cadences. That said, I noticed no particular problems while viewing normal content.

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