Sony VPL-HW15 Projector Review

The VPL-HW15 claims 60,000:1. For reference, I shot it side by side with the soon to be replaced Epson Home Cinema 6500UB. The Epson bested the older HW10 in black levels, by a noticeable amount. This time around, the Epson (which btw, claims 75,000:1), still seems to have the advantage, however, it is never really a whole lot. In fact, once in a while, on just the right scene, because everyone’s dynamic irises work differently, the Sony can match the Epson.

All considered, I’d say that the HW15, though it can’t beat the Epson, should have the advantage on other ultra-high contrast 3LCD projectors like the Panasonic PT-AE3000 and the Sanyo PLV-Z3000. Whether the VPL-HW15, however can outperform the expected new Panasonic, would be pure guesswork. With the new Epson Home Cinema 8500UB claiming 200,000:1 contrast, and considering how the Sony compares to the older Epson, the new Epson should definitely beat the Sony in black levels (though will still do better skin tones, etc.)

In the overexposed version of the satellite, above, you can see the differences in the black levels in the letterbox area, and also in the starfield. (again, note: Sony on the left.) Even compensating for the extra brightness of the Sony (notice the pause icon in the lower left), the Epson has an advantage.

Click to Enlarge.So close

Below are a few side by side comparison images, and more will be added after the CEDIA show, this week. These images have the Sony VPL-HW15 on the left, and the Epson 6500UB on the right. The two projectors are pretty close in brightness, which helps, although the Sony measures a little brighter (and the Epson looks a touch more contrasty). First image, the satellite from Space Cowboys. That’s followed by an image from Quantum of Solace.

Click Image to Enlarge

In the overexposed version of the satellite, above, you can see the differences in the black levels in the letterbox area, and also in the starfield. (again, note: Sony on the left.) Even compensating for the extra brightness of the Sony (notice the pause icon in the lower left), the Epson has an advantage.

Below is a side by side, with a lower cost, but excellent projector I’ve recently reviewed, the new Mitsubishi HC3800 (which ships late Oct. 09). At half the price, the HC3800 has black level performance that’s better than entry level, but not “ultra-high” contrast projectors like the Sony. Look closely in the dark areas, and you can see that there is a very real difference between the two.

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