Sony VPL-AW15 Bravia Home Theater Projector: General Image Quality

One thing most front projector enthusiasts tend to agree about, is that animated films provide exceptionally gorgeous results. Here is an image from Ice Age: The Meltdown, from the DTS sampler (Blu-Ray):

This very close crop of a small area of this night scene of Gondor (Lord of the Rings, standard DVD), looks OK, but does not bring out the subtle colors found in some of the more expensive projectors, instead it all appears rather blue. The Sony AW15, also is unable to bring out the details below the mountains on the top/middle right, behind the buildings.

On the other hand, this image (also from Lord of the Rings) of the Throneroom, shows a good balance between light and dark, and I noted when watching, that the AW15 did a particularly good job on this scene.

Overall image quality of the Sony AW15 Bravia is very good. I think, that, in general, the Sony will appear to those who prefer a less dramatic, but more natural image, although after proper adjustment, most projectors, of course get to be more similar in contras, brightness and saturation. Projectors like the Sanyo PLV-Z5 have more “wow” to their image, but I think the Sony’s trade-off is those less saturated, and therefore slightly more natural flesh tones.

So, we conclude that the Sony AW15 is solid in all image quality areas, with it’s strenth likely being flesh tone handling, though good, shadow detail and black levels, are nothing that a number of other projectors can’t match. “Pleasing” is a term I would use to describe the AW15, but, overall, the Sony is a bit less “dynamic” than some of the competition. In addition, the Sony is on the weak side of average in terms of brightness, so some projectors, like the Optoma HD72, and Epson Home Cinema 400, just blow away the AW15 in terms of sheer horsepower, allowing larger screens, or more “wow” on smaller ones.

Sufficiently confused? Of course! In that case, my work here is done. Time to move on to General Performance.

Sony VPL-AW15 Bravia, LCD Home Theater Projector Review: General Performance

Sony VPL-AW15 Projector: Menus

I generally like the way Sony set up their menus. They cram a lot of items in the Picture menu, and its sub-menus. Unlike most projectors, lamp brightness is even in there, a real plus in my opinion.

For those that like to play with settings, this Sony has plenty to amuse you.

Of course, the Picture menu has the usual Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness settings, but also those for Color Temperature, Black Level controls, Gamma Correction, and more.

The first main submenu, is the Picture Mode, inside of the Picture Menu (Ok, even I’m confused). Shown here, it offers three standard modes. Dynamic, for when you need all the lumens the AW15 can scrape up, a standard mode, probably best suitable for TV watching, and, of course, a Cinema mode.

In addition, there are three user savable settings.

The Cinema Black Pro submenu, is a tasty one, for, within it, you will find control of options for the Sony’s dynamic iris. Overall, though I found that Sony did a good job on the Iris functions, and was only ever to spot it at work on the right type of scene transitions, and only when I was looking for the telltales.

Sony VPL-AW15 Projector: Menus Slideshow

From inside the Cinema Black Pro submenu, you can also chose between the Lamp’s high and low settings.The Sony VPL-AW15 Bravia projector color temperature menu. I would have preferred that Lamp options be right on the main Picture menu, instead of buried in the Cinema Black Pro, but I find it still bette than putting it on a separate “main” menu.

The Color Temp menu is an important one. In addition to the three color temperature choices – High, Middle and Low, there are three Custom settings, each allowing your to modify separate R,G, and B settings.

Below you can see the usual separate Gain and Bias settings for each primary color.The Sony VPL-AW15 Bravia projector custom RGB menu.

In addition, here’s a look (below) at the Gamma settings submenu, which offers you a choice of three separate gamma curves, which will affect how light or dark the middle ranges of brightness appear, with little to no effect on nearly fully bright and fully dark areas.

The Sony VPL-AW15 Bravia projector gamma menu.

For your consideration, I have provided images of both the Installation main menu, and the Setup main menu.

The Installation menu offers keystone correction control (best avoided, since it slightly degrades the image). Of course, since the AW15 has horizontal and vertical lens shift, you shouldn’t need keystone correction at all. From this menu, you can also set the position type for the projector – front or rear screen, ceiling mount (inverted) or table.

The Setup menu let’s you choose menu language, fan settings, standby mode, auto select for the inputs, and provides lamp information.

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