With Full-HD 1080p projection now available for under AU$2000, what do get if you spend more money? Well, there’s a basic consumer electronics' rule of diminishing returns which says to get a marked improvement you need to spend about twice as much. So, does this apply to Sony's new VPLHW15 which has an RRP of nearly AU$4500 but can be had with a bit of shopping around for AU$3500?
Design and features
Like a lot of 1080p projectors, the VPLHW15’s a physically substantial piece of kit. Beneath its shiny black exterior it uses Sony’s proprietary SXRD chipset in a triple panel array (as opposed to conventional LCD and DLP chipsets). Coupled to this we have a 200-Watt ultra-high pressure lamp rated at 1000 Lumens and an improved Dynamic Iris that is said to produce a contrast ratio of a whopping 60,000:1. Sony’s Bravia Engine 2 also works its digital video processing magic, by aiming to reduce picture noise and enhance detail as well as being compatible with both Deep Color and x.v.Color technologies.
Two HDMI 1.3a inputs are provided along with RCA and 15-pin component ins, plus S-Video and composite video connections as well. External automated control is via the standard RS-232 port and the VPLHW15 also includes Sony’s Bravia Theatre Sync to communicate with other compatible Sony gear, say an AV receiver or Blu-ray player.
It comes with a decent-sized backlit remote, which not only gives you direct access to the main projector settings, such as Black Level, Advanced Iris and Colour Processing, there are also some playing and chapter controls for aforementioned Bravia Theatre Sync players. Delving into the Sony’s menu reveals a substantial amount of set-up options, but thankfully the interface is well laid out and intuitive to follow. We’d once again advise a proper calibration to get the very best possible picture quality — either with the help of a do-it-yourself DVD or BD or better still a professional job that will set you back around AU$300.
We made a few setting adjustments and liked what we saw in "Cinema" mode with the Dynamic Iris on and we also left the colour temperature at the default "Low" setting; all of which produced more than enough brightness in our darkened AV room. Table-top mounted, the Sony needed a little keystone correction as well, but thankfully the image edge remained tight and true.