An outstanding projector with image quality that can be adjusted to rival the best on the market – we'd have liked frame interpolation too, though.
1,920×1,080 resolution, 1,000 ANSI lumens, 179x407x463mm, 10.0kg
Sony has made some unusual design choices with its Bravia VPL-HW15 projector. Its angular chassis is longer than it is wide, and looks vaguely like a space ship from a ’70s sci-fi series.
All the inputs are positioned along the lower left-hand side of the projector, where you’ll find two HDMI inputs, along with component, composite, VGA and S-Video ports. These aren’t inherently more difficult to route cables to, although rear ports are generally neater if you’re running cables up behind a desk or shelving unit.
Although the HW15 is far from cheap, it’s an entry-level model by the standard of Sony’s home cinema projector range. This may explain a couple of unexpected limitations, such as 1.6x rather than 2x zoom and lens shift of just 65 per cent on the vertical axis and 25 per cent on the horizontal. This is can restrict your options when it comes to positioning this bulky projector, compared to projectors with greater lens shift.
The projector uses Sony’s proprietary Silicon X-tal Reflective Display (SXRD) – a form of Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS). Broadly similar to LCD technologies, LCoS in general has a reputation for excellent colour and contrast as well as tiny pixel sizes. This is borne out by outstanding image quality.
As usual, we first tested the projector’s built-in image presets. There are three of these: Dynamic provides the highest contrast ratios by adjusting the iris on the lens to suit the picture mode, Standard is a little less intense but has a more natural colour balance, while Cinema is slightly more muted, with a lower, warmer colour temperature.
Image quality is brilliant. No adjustments were required to improve our preferred Cinema mode, which produced a near-perfect combination of warm, natural skin tones, rich black shades and shadow gradation that is as good as we’ve seen on any other projector in this price range. The VPL-HW15 also boasts an even, natural-looking colour balance.
If anything though, the colours were a little too muted, but this was easily improved by slightly raising the Colour density setting in the Picture menu to produce a more saturated image. The projector runs quietly even at the highest brightness settings.
The Picture settings include the usual colour, brightness and contrast controls, while the Cinema Black settings allow you control the behaviour of the iris for dynamic brightness control. An Expert menu allows you to switch the colour space between sRGB and x.v.Color, adjust gamma or enable noise reduction. Individual adjustment options for each colour can be accessed from the Real Colour Processing settings in the Advanced Picture menu.
We disliked the remote control, although all the controls you’re likely to need are there, there’s a backlight and the buttons aren’t crowded. Unfortunately, its oversized length and ridged back made it uncomfortable to hold. Additional buttons to control other Sony Bravia products are useless to those who don’t have compatible equipment and we would have liked an on-screen display to indicate which button we’d just pressed.
The VPL-HW15 it doesn’t have as wide a range of features as many other projectors around the £2,000 mark. Frame interpolation in particular is conspicuous by its absence. However it has outstanding picture quality, making it one of the best projectors you can buy in its price range.
|1,000 ANSI lumens
|Lamp life in economy mode
|Max compressed resolution
|Other aspect ratios
|Max diagonal at 7ft
|1.47:1 to 2.18:1
|1.4m to 14.3m
|Lens shift horizontal
|Lens shift vertical
|Special view modes
|Dyanmic, standard, cinema, user
|second HDMI input, RS232, trigger out
|Noise (in normal use)
|remote, cables (power)
|Remote special features
|Bravia sync controls
|Power consumption standby
|Power consumption on
|Lamp cost (inc VAT)
|Lamp cost per hour of use
|Lamp cost per hour of use (economy)