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Sony Bravia VPL-AW15 projector: Watch with the lights on

Sony's first Bravia projector is accompanied by a brilliant new screen technology that enables you to watch projected images with the lights on

Sony's first projector to sport the high-end Bravia TV brand is a marvel. Normally you need a very dark room to get a decent picture from a projector, but, providing you buy the screen Sony is selling to accompany its new AW-series, you can watch a movie with the lights on. It really works -- Crave was treated to a demo yesterday at Sony's press event in Rhodes.

The engineers that created the Bravia tellies we love so much were enlisted to work on the design of the VPL-AW15, helping to tweak the picture so it can knock its rivals into a cocked hat, despite it being relatively cheap.

Sony says its LCD projector can produce images up to 5m (200-inches) wide without affecting image quality, and the projector only needs to be 2.3 metres away from the wall or screen to produce an image 80-inches wide.

It's only a 720p model unfortunately, so it downscales 1080p images, but it does support a video mode called 24p True Cinema. Found on Blu-ray movies, this plays movies the same way they are in the cinema at 24 frames per second, rather than the slightly speeded-up version (25fps) you get when you watch a DVD or the telly. It helps to recreate the Odeon feeling in your front room.

It's quiet, producing just 20db of noise, and there's a lens shift to help you get a rectangular picture even if you have to project the image at an angle.

Use it with the Sony DynaClear 80-inch screen, though, and things really get interesting. It has a special coating that's designed to get rid of ambient light, so even if you have the curtains open or the lights on, the image looks good. It works really well, as you can see from our picture above.

The film is being played with the room lights on. On the right hand side is a patch of ordinary screen, and the image is basically unwatchable, as you'd expect. On the left is the DynaClear screen, where the picture is good enough to watch for hours. It's not as bright as the picture you get with the lights off, but it's pretty clear nonetheless. The only drawback is that the image falls off somewhat if you stand at the side of the screen, due to the way the material works, but this shouldn't present a problem in most homes.

Expect to see the screen and projector in shops in June -- the VPL-AW15 will cost roughly £1,000, although Sony hasn't decided how much to sell the screen for yet. -JJ