Full HD Projectors

Sony VPL-HW15

Our Settings

All of the settings below assume that you have the projector in cinema mode. The color temperature is 3. We then applied the following custom settings: Red -3, Blue -17, Green +1.

We adjusted the gamma correction. The default setting of 4 is too pale, so we changed it to 3 to get closer to the ideal gamma curve. With this setting, it's slightly below our target much closer.

In advanced mode, we chose the lowest black level and the normal color space. Detail level 15. To accentuate the depth of solid black areas, try reducing the brightness to 45 to wipe out snowstorms.

To go even further, the RCP 'Real Color Processing' menu allows you to individually control the levels of red, yellow, green, cyan, blue and magenta on screen. You can adjust them based on image whose colors you know very well or according to your own preferences. Be careful not go too far though!

Fresh off Sony's production lines, the new VPL-HW15 replaces the VPL-HW10. It still uses Sony'S SXRD LCD system, with three panels in total, one for each primary color, and is in the mid- to high-end range of the manufacturer's 1080p range of projectors, coming in behind the VPL-VW85.

Handling

Sony has preserved the general look and feel of the VPL-HW10 on its successor, the VPL-HW15.  From the outside, nothing has changed and the glossy black plastic body is just as physically imposing as its predecessor.  It's an interesting choice of materials, as if you hang it from the ceiling, the projector will reflect ambient light sources.

The area where we found the most improvement was the power consumption of the projector while on standby.  From 5.7 W on the VPL-HW10, it fell to just 0.1 W here, an tremendous improvment! 

The remote control has also seen some radical changes.  It's now noticeably bigger with more shortcuts and is very easy to use.  Lens-shift, zoom and focus are all manual though,  and can't be controlled with the remote control, which would have been more convenient.  It's very quiet while operating, producing just 25 dB in eco mode.

Note that the lens-shifting generally only points downwards, which makes it hard to mount this projector upside down on the ceiling.  If you do so, you'll end up with the image pointing at the ceiling.  Instead, you can tilt the projector back and compensate for the changes in the image by adjusting the keystone.  That said, purists will balk at this option which also distorts the image.

Image Quality


We found black levels of 0.88 cd/m².  That's twice as dark as a Mitsubishi HC6500, but three times lighter than the Sanyo PLV-Z3000.  The latter has a brightness of 159 cd/m² while the Sony reaches 706 cd/m².  Sony comes out on top with a contrast ration of 802:1, compared to 568:1 for the Sanyo projector and 248:1 for the Mitsubishi.

 


Why is this result so interesting?  With such a bright image, Sony is hoping to move the projector out of darkened rooms dedicated to Home Cinema sessions and into sitting rooms for more general-purpose use.  For instance, watching a sports game in the evening without having to draw the curtains.

The amount of noise in videos is relatively high and similar to the Mitsubishi model, but that's a lot more than is produced by the PLV-Z3000, our reference in this area.  To reduce it, you need to go into the advanced menu and choosing the MPEG NR setting.  Don't hesitate to increase the size of the projected image to reduce the amount of snowy pixels if there are too many of them.  Be careful though, as that can blur some areas of the frame and you will lose detail.  It's up to you to find a reasonable compromise without overdoing things.

The management of high light levels is good and there is plenty of white even in the lightest parts of the frame.  That's not what happens on the Mitsubishi HC6500 and the HC5500 which both end up burning out white areas.

Remember, we always pick out details like this to give you a good idea of the differences between one model and the next.  However, the image produced by Full HD projectors in this price is always excellent overall.

What about Motionflow?

A very popular feature on the latest televisions, and already available on some projectors like the Optoma HD82 and the Panasonic PT-A3000E, there's no system to improve the fluidity of moving objects by calculating the intermediate frames here.  Is that something that it's worth tackling Sony for? Keep in mind that these filters often make movies look too much like 'video', rather than film, but it's easy to get used to them and so it would have been good to at least have the option.

A real defect or a problem with our sample?

There's one small problem to look at before we finish.  When we displayed a completely black frame, we noticed light leaking in the corners.  In the top right, there was a green tinge and it was red at the top left.  We think that this fault is linked to the advanced preview that we were testing, and hopefully it won't be present on the final versions that go on sale.  That's why our final score for this product doesn't take this into consideration.

Sony VPL-HW15
ProsCons
  • Very bright whites
  • Quiet
  • Power consumption in standby
  • Very good SD upscaling
  • Contrast ratio of 800:1
  • No Motionflow or 120 Hz mode
  • Noise handling could be better
  • Blacks not very dark because of high brightness
  • Expensive bulbs
  • With a better remote control, better color temperature, brightness and energy consumption of just 0.1 W in standby. These are just some of the reasons to prefer the VPL-HW15 to its predecessor, the VPL-HW10. As a downside, it doesn't have Motionflow or a motorized zoom, and the blacks are relatively weak.