Sony VPL-AW15 Bravia Home Theater Projector – Overview

Starting at the front, the Sony AW15 has a 1.6:1 zoom lens, mounted far to the left. For a 100″ diagonal 16:9 screen, the front of the projector can be as close as 9 feet 8 inches, or as far back as 15 feet 8.25 inches. Many home theater projectors have lenses not centered. No big deal, as long as you take that into consideration when mounting or putting up a shelf. Since the Sony AW15 does have horizontal lens shift, it really is no issue at all. The Zoom lens and focus are manual, controlled by the inner and outer rings around the lens. There is also an infra-red sensor for the remote control.

On the projector’s left side (looking from the front, are the two lens shift dials, one for horizontal, one for vertical. I’ll cover the range of the lens shift in the general performance page.

The top of the Sony projector has its control panel, which is a bit interesting. It’s not so much that there is anything unusual, in terms the buttons, but that it has a very tiny joystick instead of the usual arrow keys. Personally, I like the way it works.

The only other time I have seen a micro-joystick is on a number of Panasonic portable business projectors. In the case of the Sony AW15 Bravia, the joystick handles the up/down/left/right functions, and pressing straight down on the joystick is the Enter function.

Beyond that slightly different way of doing things, the control panel is very basic, with a power button, Input (source select), Menu button, and the joystick.

The Sony VPL-AW15 has four screw adjustable feet, two under the front (left and right) and two more (left and right) below the rear of the projector.

That takes us to the back of the Sony AW15 to the input panel.

From the back left, first is an RS-232 port for command and control functions (controlling the projector from a computer. Moving to the right, are theobligatory S-video and Composite Video inputs. Next are the three color coded (Red, Green, Blue) RCA jacks for a component video input. An analog computer input (a standard HD15 computer connector) is next, and lastly the HDMI connector for a digital source. Directly below the HDMI is the AC power recepticle.

That covers the physical tour of Sony’s VPL-AW15 home theater projector. Time to consider image quality.

Sony VPL-AW15 Home Theater Projector Review: Image Quality

For an inexpensive LCD based home theater projector, the Sony’s overall image quality performance was very good. In the LCD camp, the primary competition would be the Sanyo PLV-Z5, which with its rebates is in the same price range, the less expensive Hitachi PJ52 which we have not seen, and Epson’s powerful Home Cinema 400 projector. The Sony AW15, like the Sanyo PLV-Z5, and Epson relies on dynamic irises to enhance black level performance.

Sony VPL AW15 Bravia Projector: Handling of Flesh Tones

I’ll start, as usual with how well the Sony AW15 handles flesh tones. Out of the box color is pretty good, not exceptional, with the overall color balance a little on the warm (reddish) side. Actually the Sony is just about right on, in the brighter ranges, but very reddish in the dark gray ranges. A basic calibration improves the color slightly, which is particularly appreciated in the handling of flesh tones.

The default Color setting on the Sony AW15, is, if anything, a bit undersaturated, which of course takes only increasing saturation a couple of clicks, to correct. In doing so, I stayed on the side of caution, preferring to increase slightly, and ending up with results that were, if anything, slightly more saturated, but a bit less so than other projectors (most tend to be slightly oversaturated). Flesh tones appear very natural, as best shown by this image below, of Gandalf, from standard DVD, Lord of the Rings.

The image of Arwen, below, however, although intended to be pale, comes up with a little less red content, than most (this after the grayscale adjustment – which increased the color temp to over 6700K (ideal is 6500K), in the brighter ranges. The image on the screen looked a bit more correct than this image below.

In fact, a little undersaturated before adjustment, but offers up extremely believable flesh tones. In fact, in this regard, it reminds me of the far more expensive, and truly excellent Sony Pearl – the VW50.

Also from Phantom, is this image of some actors in heavy makeup, and one with “normal” skin tones. Again, natural, and believable would be the key descriptors.

In the image of Clint Eastwood above, from Space Cowboys (Blu-ray DVD), the Sony scores very well again. With its slightly lower saturation, the flesh tones look extremely good, whereas the photos captured from most home theater projectors tend to come out looking too red, from slight oversaturation. Below is another good image from Space Cowboys.

Lastly, for looking at flesh tones, are a couple of images from HDTV: First being Jen and Bon Jovi, from a concert on M HD – MTV’s high def music video channel. Of course concerts have strong stage lighting, but again, the Sony AW15, comes through with very believable colors,

Overall, I am extremely pleased with the Sony’s handling of flesh tones (skin tones). You should be impressed as well.

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