Sony VPL-HW15 Projector Review

  • Overall a very well balanced home theater projector
  • Very good color out of the box, even better after calibration
  • Brightness in best mode, a little above average – 538 measured lumens
  • Brightness is definitely below average in brightest mode, when you need extra lumens for ambient light -we measured 771 lumens
  • Improved black level performance, not the best, but comparable or slightly better than most of the similarly priced competition
  • Zoom lens is relatively short thow, may not work shelf mounted in deep rooms, or in typical rooms with small to medium sized screens
  • Adjustable vertical and horizontal lens shift, not as much range as some, but not bad
  • Dynamic iris seems improved – less noticeable than older Sony
  • Looks to have very good price/performance, but it is one of the first of the new fall 2009 projectors we’ve received
  • Lacks support for an anamorphic lens (that is reserved for their more expensive VW projector)

Specs for Sony VPL-HW15

MSRP: $2999
Technology: LCoS (SXRD)
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920×1080)
Brightness: 1000 lumens claimed, 771 lumens highest we measured
Contrast: 60,000:1
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.6:1
Lens shift: Vertical and horizontal
Lamp life: Sony does not provide info, we assume 2000 hours at full power
Weight: 22.1 lbs. (10 Kg)
Warranty: 2 Years Parts and Labor

Sony VPL-HW15 Special Features

Sony VPL-HW15 Gamma Modes

Sony has upped the number of configured gamma modes, to 7, from 4. That can only be a good, if confusing thing. We didn’t take a close look at all the different gammas, sticking to about 3 for our image viewing purposes.

Sony SXRD panels - (LCoS)

(This paragraph taken right from the older HW10 review.) The vast majority of home theater projectors use either DLP or 3LCD technology. Sony uses Liquid Crystal on Silicon, a reflective panel, as opposed to the translucent typical LCD panels. Sony calls their LCoS implementation SXRD. In the under $10,000 price range, JVC and Sony are the primary manufacturers of LCoS home theater projectors. The advantages of LCoS, these days, are two fold: First, LCoS panels have, for all practical purposes, invisible pixel structures, way below visibility at normal seating distances with a 1080p projector. Only the 3LCD Panasonic PT-AE3000, with its addition of their SmoothScreen technology, has less visible pixels, and it comes with a price, a slightly softer image.

Pixel visibility, and screen door effect are, effectively non-issues, with this Sony, thanks to the LCoS panels.

The second advantage, it seems is in terms of black level performance. While some 3LCD and DLP projectors can match some of the LCoS projectors, at this point in time, the Sony but more so, the JVC LCoS projectors outperform almost most of the non LCoS competition, in black level performance

Individual SXRD panel adjustment

A very nice, touch, this Sony allows individual adjustment of each panel for more precise alignment. This feature carried forward from the HW10. And, it works nicely!

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