Posted on May 7, 2007 Art Feierman
Sony contacted me a few days before my family’s spring break vacation, and offered an AW15 for review, if I could get it back to them very quickly. So, with vacation almost upon us, and two back to back trade shows the week after, I naturally said: “sure, ship it out”. And so, for the first time, I had a home theater projector in here for review, for less than 3 full days, instead of the usual 10 days. As a result, I must apologize, in advance, I was able to do all the usual measurements and adjustments, but wasn’t able to spend all of the dozen plus hours viewing the AW15 Bravia, that I normally consider a minimum for a good review.
That said, with the more limited time, this review is a bit more shakey, in terms of my more subjective recommendations, especially as relating to how good I feel the overall image quality is.
First, the Sony AW15 isn’t expected to ship until June, so you can read this at a leisurely pace.
The Sony VPL-AW15 (MSRP: $1300) is definitely a very nice, compact, and affordable home theater projector. From a pricing standpoint, it is very agressive, especially considering some of the technological features included. It’s claim of 12,000:1 contrast ratio, I do believe that is the highest current claim for a 720p resolution projector. To achieve this, Sony apparently has two separate dynamic irises that work differently. I’ll go into this far more in image quality, but I did want to point out, that all the fancy dynamic gadgetry these days, is pretty much making contrast ratio a meaningless spec, for judging black level performance.
The AW15 also supports 1080p/24fps, a feature that new projectors are just starting to support. Next – so far, only a couple of very expensive Blu-ray DVD players can output 1080p/24, and interestingly, both have list prices higher (May 07) than this Sony projector (They are both around $1500.)
However, as the Hi-Def DVD war evolves, and prices fall dramatically in the next 12 months, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see $199 players supporting 1080p/24. My point is, Sony’s decision to support 1080p/24 in a 720p projector is a good thing.
Next point I should mention, is that Sony also launched an even lower priced sibling, the AW10, with an anticipated $999 list price, which makes it the first 720p projector featuring 3LCD technology, to start out under $1000 Of course, we are getting these prices from an eary press release. I suspect the actually MSRP’s will be $1299 or $1295, and $999 or $995 respectively, when they actually ship. But, I digress.
The lower priced AW10 has a single dynamic iris, and claims a still impressive 6000:1 contrast ratio. Again, I will address the “out of control” contrast ratios issue later.
Overall, though, the AW15 looks like the more attractive product for the relatively small price difference, especially considering that it also offers lens shift, in addition to producing a better image.
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