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Sony VPL-HW15 - Review Summary-2

Posted on September 1, 2009 by Art Feierman

All considered, the VPL-HW15 is a formidable projector, well priced. It should have good appeal with many enthusiasts, typically those more "purist" oriented, who will appreciate the color accuracy and skin tone handling.

Over three generations - from the VPL-VW40, to the VPL-HW10, and now the VPL-HW15, the newest is firmly planted in the mid-price range, while older models were priced well above the best selling mid-priced projectors. That's another very good thing!

The Bottom Line: A very worthy projector. Solid in all areas, impressive black levels, but skin tone handling and overall color are the real strength that makes the Sony VPL-HW15 deserve our Hot Product award. The lowering of the price point simply makes the HW15 even more deserving.

The only real question is - what does the new competition look like. Unlike past years, when the Sony review units were very late getting out there, and Sony projectors were typically about the last new ones reviewed, this time Sony got their act together and provided review projectors roughly in line with the HW15's release.

Sony VPL-HW15 Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities

Sony VPL-HW15 Projector: Pros

  • Very good "Out of the Box" picture quality
  • Extremely good color accuracy post calibration in "best" mode
  • Very good black level performance for the price, one of the best mid-priced projectors in this regard, but not the best.
  • Overall, an excellent, well balanced picture! Film-like
  • Good shadow detail
  • One of the better dynamic irises, in terms of not being intrusive
  • Two HDMI 1.3 inputs, full support for 24 fps, Deep Color, CEC etc.
  • Very good menus
  • Really nice remote
  • Nice styling and look to the projector
  • Projector lamp can be changed without unmounting the projector
  • On the quiet side of average audible noise - should be no problem
  • Good, just above average brightness in best mode
  • An very good value proposition (worth the bucks!) at least so far

Sony VPL-HW15 Projector: Cons

  • One of the least bright projectors in "brightest mode" limiting it for those who want to watch content like sports with more than the minimum ambient light present
  • While it's sharpness is average, it could be sharper (especially for digital content like HDTV sports)
  • Relatively short throw zoom lens, may prevent a significant number of potential owners from rear shelf mounting
  • While black levels really are very good, it is likely that several new direct competitors will be even better
  • Dynamic iris is slow and action can be visible
  • No support for an anamorphic lens

Sony VPL-HW15 Projector: Typical Capabilities

  • About average brightness in "best" mode
  • Audible noise (fan noise)
  • Lamp life (unknown, but assumed to be average)
  • Sharpness of the image, overall
  • Shadow detail performance

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