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Sony VPL-AW15

BRAVIA® 720p high-definition LCD projector

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Item #: 158VPLAW15
 

Review Summary

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Original price $1,299.99
 
 
 
 

Our take on the Sony VPL-AW15

by Steve Kindig
Sony

Projectors produce big, beautiful images that are larger and more cinema-like than nearly any flat-panel or rear-projection TVs — for a lot less money. Reviewer Tom Norton raved about Sony's affordable VPL-AW15 at the Home Theater website: "The AW15 is shockingly good for the money, and may well shake up the sub-$5K projector market in much the same way that last year's Sony Pearl rewrote the book in the sub-$10K class."

High-definition detail and rich, realistic color
Each of the Sony's three high-resolution LCD panels has 1280 x 720 pixels — a pixel-perfect match for 720p programs on ABC, Fox, and ESPN HD. A powerful internal "scaler" converts all other video signals to precisely match the projector's 720p native resolution. The VPL-AW15's 12-bit video processing yields ultra-fine color and grayscale gradations — images have plenty of detail, yet retain the subtle, nuanced look of film.

High contrast that you control
Front-projection displays always look best in a darkened room, and that's especially true for the VPL-AW15 because its light output is somewhat limited. Sony does include some really useful features for enhancing picture contrast. The Cinema Black Pro feature gives you independent controls for both the lamp and iris shutter — both let you increase contrast and lower brightness, or vice versa. Sony's "Advanced Iris" has two "Auto" modes that track the incoming video signal and regulate light output on the fly, literally scene by scene. You'll notice deeper blacks and more shadow detail in dark scenes.

Versatile design works in more rooms
With its standard-throw lens, the VPL-AW15 is a good choice for medium- and larger-sized rooms. You can place it on a table, or ceiling-mount it with an optional bracket. The projector's "lens shift" feature is the preferred way to adjust the image either horizontally or vertically, to allow for off-center projector placement. Unlike digital keystone correction, lens shift provides perfectly aligned images without degrading picture quality.

For optimum performance, a separate projection screen is recommended.

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Highlights:

  • HDTV-ready projector (digital TV reception requires a separate HDTV tuner)
  • widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio (can also display 4:3 material)
  • 3 LCD panels (1280 x 720 pixels each)
  • 12,000:1 max. contrast ratio (with dynamic iris)
  • light output: 1100 ANSI lumens
  • adjustable/dynamic Advanced Iris 2 for improved contrast and black level
  • 12-bit digital video processing
  • Real Color Processing color management system
  • 1.6X manual zoom/focus lens (standard-throw)
  • lens shift image adjustment (horizontal and vertical)
  • 165-watt UHP lamp (3000-hour max. rated life)
  • ultra-quiet cooling fan (20 dB)
  • illuminated remote control
  • picture settings memory for each video input
  • 4 video inputs, including:
    • 1 composite video
    • 1 S-video
    • 1 component video (accepts signals up to 1080i)
    • 1 HDMI digital audio/video input (accepts signals up to 1080p — 60Hz/24Hz)
  • PC input: analog RGB (D-Sub 15-pin)
  • detachable power cord
  • 14-5/8"W x 5-1/8"H x 14-1/4"D
  • weight: 13.3 lbs.
  • warranty: 2 years parts & labor — carry-in service (90 days on lamp)
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
  • Note: front projectors don't include any type of built-in TV tuner, but they display signals from an HDTV tuner, satellite receiver, cable box, or a VCR's TV tuner

Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Features and Specs
Display
Type
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3-LCD
3D-Capable
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---
Aspect Ratio
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16:9
Contrast Ratio
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12000:1
Resolution (pixels)
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1280 x 720
Approximate Lamp Life
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N/A
Bulb Wattage
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165-Watt
Brightness (in ANSI Lumens)
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1100
General
Vertical Lens Shift
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Yes
Horizontal Lens Shift
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Yes
Vertical Keystone Correction
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Yes
Horizontal Keystone Correction
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No
Width (inches)
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14-5/8
Height (inches)
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5-1/8
Depth (inches)
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14-1/4
Weight
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13.25 lbs
Parts Warranty
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2 Years
Labor Warranty
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2 Years
Type of Warranty Service
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Carry-in
Connections
Total Video Inputs
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4
HDMI Inputs
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1
Component Video Inputs
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1
S-Video Inputs
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1
Composite Video Inputs
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1
USB Media Port
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---
PC Input
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Yes
RS-232 Port
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1
Product Research
What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • Video projector with attached lens-cap
  • RM-PJAW15 wireless remote control
  • 2 "AA" batteries
  • 7.5' AC power cord
  • Air filter
  • Operating Instructions (English)
  • Warranty sheet

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team — they open the box, verify contents, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Features
Input and Output Notes

Features

3-LCD Projection System: The VPL-AW15 utilizes three primary color widescreen (16:9) LCD chips and a single lens LCD shutter projection system to make up the projected image. Each 0.73" TFT (Thin Film Transistor) LCD chip has a resolution of 1280 x 720. Because the images from the three LCD chips are superimposed over each other, the projector's native resolution is 1280 x 720, a total of 921,600 pixels x 3 (2,764,800 pixels).

ARC-F (All Range Crisp Focus) Lens: The All Range Crisp Focus Lens delivers a crisp focused picture across the screen. The Sony VPL-AW15 video projector can produce an image that is adjustable between 40" and 200" (measured diagonally). The projector's adjustable lens provides a wide range of placement possibilities for a given screen size. The throw distance (distance from lens to screen) range for several screen sizes, 16:9 and 4:3, are given below:

Screen Size Throw Distance (16:9) Throw Distance (4:3)
40" 3.78 to 6.1875 feet 4.66 to 7.604 feet
60" 5.75 to 9.354 feet 7.0625 to 11.479 feet
80" 7.708 to 12.52 feet 9.468 to 15.354 feet
100" 9.66 to 15.6875 feet 11.875 to 19.229 feet
120" 11.635 to 18.854 feet 14.27 to 23.1 feet
140" 13.59 to 22.02 feet 16.677 to 26.979 feet
160" 15.5625 to 25.177 feet 19.0625 to 30.854 feet
180" 17.52 to 28.343 feet 21.479 to 34.729 feet
200" 19.489 to 31.51 feet 23.885 to 38.6 feet

Full Digital Processing: Sony's Full Digital Video Processing circuits include a number of processes designed to optimize picture performance of any input source; the 12-Bit Panel Driver achieves excellent gradation reproduction and a high level of detail.

Advanced Iris2 Function: This function reproduces bright images in bright scenes and deep blacks in dark scenes by dynamically changing the opening according to the level of input signals. Two "Auto" modes offer you the flexibility depending on content. And each mode has three sensitivity settings - Recommended, Fast and Slow to allow additional adjustments. Working in combination with the High Contrast Plate, a high contrast ratio of up to 12,000:1 can now be achieved.

High Contrast Plate: The High Contrast Plate adjusts diagonal light to reduce light leakage that can take place between the ON/OFF status of liquid crystal elements. Working with the Advanced Iris Function, the High Contrast Plate controls light emission from each LCD panel to deepen black levels and offer a high contrast ratio.

24p True Cinema: Many films are shot at 24 images per second. Because of the limitations of conventional televisions (both CRT and flat panels), these 24 images can't be faithfully reproduced. The sequence of the 24 images gets altered in order to display the content on television. The result is a unnatural, jerky movement that the movie creators did not intend. With 24p True Cinema, the 24 progressive images are displayed as they should be, in the same sequence as the original film source. In combination with next-generation video devices like Blu-ray Disc, the same film-like motion that you could only enjoy in the theaters in now available in the comfort of your entertainment room.

Video Signal Compatibility: This unit can accept nearly any video signal available today, including 480i, 480p, 576i, 576p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. It will even accept a 1080/24p signal so it's ready for the future when high definition players become available with that output. It will also accept a wide range of computer video signals, and is compatible with NTSC, PAL, SECAM, PAL-M, PAL-N, and PAL60 color formats.

Note: The projector has no internal tuner and all video signals are displayed in 1280 x 720 (720p) resolution.

PC Compatible: The projector's HD D-15 sub jack and HDMI connector are PC compatible and will support PC video input of up to 1920 x 1080. All video signal are displayed in the projector's native resolution of 1280 x 720.

Zoom/Focus: The VPL-AW15 features a 1.6x manual zoom lens. The picture size (zoom) is controlled from a lever mounted around the lens while the focus is adjusted by a focusing ring mounted to the front of the lens. A test pattern can be displayed on screen to help you focus.

Lens Shift: The lens shift controls allow you to adjust the image either horizontally or vertically, to allow for off-center projector placement giving you added flexible mounting options.

Wide Modes: You can select various wide screen modes, depending on the type of video signal received:

  • Full: a 16:9 squeezed picture is displayed normally, a 4:3 picture is enlarged horizontally to fit the screen
  • Normal: a 4:3 picture is displayed in the center of the screen with its original aspect ratio, it fills a 16:9 screen vertically, but not horizontally
  • Wide Zoom: a 4:3 picture is enlarged with the top and bottom of the picture squeezed to fit the screen
  • Zoom: the picture is enlarged vertically and horizontally in the same ratio to fit the screen
  • Full 1: displays a PC signal in its original aspect ratio
  • Full 2: horizontally stretches a PC signal to fill a 16:9 window

Picture Modes: You can select from the following picture modes directly from the remote control:

  • Standard: recommended for normal viewing conditions
  • Dynamic: enhanced picture contrast and sharpness
  • Cinema: provides soft, film-like picture, recommended for a dark setting
  • User 1, 2, and 3: three favorite picture settings stored in memory

Picture Adjustments: In addition to the above picture modes, you can adjust the following and customize your user presets:

  • Cinema Black Pro
    • Advanced Iris: the dynamic iris has two automatic settings; one to emphasize contrast, the other to reduce contrast, within both the sensitivity can be adjusted depending on your desired response speed, the iris can also be adjusted manually
    • Lamp Control:
      • High: normal wattage
      • Low: enhances black by reducing lamp wattage
  • Contrast: adjusts white level
  • Brightness: adjusts the light output
  • Color: adjusts the intensity of the color density
  • Hue: adjusts the color tone
  • Color Temperature:
    • High: makes white more blue
    • Middle: neutral tint
    • Low: makes white more red
    • Custom: program your favorite color temperatures and store in three presets
  • Sharpness: defines the outline of an object
  • Noise Reduction: reduces the roughness of the picture
  • Dynamic Detail Enhancer: film, progressive, or off; governs how film sources are processed
  • Black Level: adjust to emphasize black depending on the source
  • Gamma Correction: adjusts the tone response characteristics

Real Color Processing: This feature allows you to adjust the color and hue of a selected on-screen target independently. You can adjust the red, yellow, green, cyan, blue, and magenta levels. Once adjusted, you can store the settings in memory (User 1, User 2, or User 3).

Over Scan: Over Scan hides the outline of the input signal, useful when noise appears around the edge.

Vertical Center: The entire picture is moved up or down when you adjust the V Center.

Vertical Size: Change the subtitle area using Vertical Size.

Adjust Signal: When you input signals from a computer the phase, pitch, and shift (vertical and horizontal) can be adjusted individually, or all can be set automatically using the Auto Pixel Alignment (APA) function.

High Altitude: The Cooling Setting has a high altitude option for use over 1500 meters. The high setting turns the fan faster so it's slightly louder.

Power Saving Mode: When activated, the projector goes into Power Saving mode if no signal is input for 10 minutes. The lamp goes out and the cooling fan continues to run. It is cancelled when a signal is input or any button is pressed.

Background: When no signal is input the background color can be set to blue or black.

Installation Menu: During the initial setup, or subsequent adjustment, these features help optimize performance and offer placement flexibility:

  • V Keystone: corrects vertical trapezoidal distortion
  • Image Flip: flips the image vertically or horizontally
  • Blanking: adjust the viewable area of the screen in all four directions

Multiple Language Display: The projector features a selectable 15 language menu display including English, French, Spanish, German and Chinese.

Mounting Options: The VPL-AW15 can be placed on a table top or ceiling mounted using the optional PSS-H10 or PSS-610 Projector Suspension Support. The unit features three 5mm threaded inserts on the bottom base of the unit.

Adjustable Feet: When placed on a tabletop, the projector rests on four feet. All four feet can be adjusted approximately 1/2" for leveling or tilting the projector. The projector should be tilted not more than 15-degrees.

Lamp and Air Filter: The projector uses a user-replaceable 165-watt ultras high pressure Sony lamp (LMP-H610). When the lamp dims, causing the color balance to become strange, or when "Please replace the lamp" appears on the screen, the lamp is exhausted and should be replaced as soon as possible. In addition, the projector is equipped with a removable air filter which should be cleaned after approximately 1500 hours use. An additional air filter is supplied with the projector.

Note: The Information Menu has a lamp timer to indicate how long the lamp has been in use. 

Remote Control: The supplied IR remote allows you to control all the projector's functions except focus/zoom and lens shift functions. Using the backlight button, you can illuminate for approximately 30 seconds. In infrared eye is mounted to the front of the projector. The supplied IR remote allows you to control all the projector's functions except focus/zoom and lens shift functions. Using the backlight button, you can illuminate for approximately 30 seconds. In infrared eye is mounted to the front of the projector.

  • Remote Dimensions:
    • Width: 1.999"
    • Height: 1.091"
    • Depth: 8.662"

Warranty: The projector is covered by a 2-year parts and labor warranty, while the lamp is covered for 90 days.

Input and Output Notes

Input A (HD15): This input features an HD D-Sub 15 jack that is compatible with HDTV RGB, component, or computer sources.

HDMI Input: The High Definition Multimedia Interface provides input for a DVD player, Blu-ray Disc player, HD-DVD player, or Digital Tuner with HDMI output. Digital video signals are passed through this connection.

Component Video Input: The component video input will accept 1080i, 720p, 480p and 480i signals.

Remote: The VPL-AW15 can be controlled by compatible home automation systems using the RS-232 port (female D-sub 9-pin).

 
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Sony VPL-AW15 Reviews

Average Customer Review:

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5 out of 5

Blew me away!

Written By Abhi, Rahway, NJ on Tuesday, March 18, 2008
 
I've had this for about 3 weeks now. This was more of an impulse buy than a well researched one, However it turned out to be a great buy. I have a 80inch screen in the basement that I use with this projector. First time I turned it on, couldnt hear a thing so I wasnt sure if it was on. In short, really quiet.

Picture quality is outstanding via an HDMI cable and via a Component connection. No cmplains there. Infact the contrast ratio (12000:1) is higher than my current LCD TV.

Another plus, supports 16:9 aspect ratio which I mainly use with everything. I have a 360 and a Wii hooked up to it. Ofcourse a surround sound system to compliment the amazing picture quality is a must.

For all those wondering about the placement of the projector, no worries there either, the lens can be adjusted vertically and horizontally to adjust to pratically any placement.

Worth every penny.

The only part that concerns me is the expensive replacement lamp and a relatively short lamp life of 1500 - 2000hrs, which is not covered under warranty. Unit itself comes with a 2 year warranty P+L.

However I give it 5 stars. A MUST buy and there is no better place to get it than Crutchfield.
3 out of 3 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

VPL-AW15 in an HTPC environment

Written By Bruce, Seattle, WA on Monday, December 10, 2007
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
This is my 4th PJ. The previous 2 were DLP. I upgraded to achieve less operating noise, higher resolution, higher contrast. All goals met. Pleasant surprise: the V & H adjustments eliminated all need for keystone correction :-)
Nasty events: the Monster DVI-D to HDMI adapter would not fit. The rubber housing was too big to allow the HDMI connector to seat. A bit of knife work, and all is well.
Video environment:
- Dedicated home theater room, ceiling mount
- 96" screen
- nVidia MX4000 GPU running native 1280 x 720 x 32
(provides 2/3 pull down, scaling, video cleanup, gamma correction, etc.) TDMS & EDID worked perfectly. nVidia color calibration really helped. I am using an ICM for 6500K (color temp). Test video is LOTR/2 towers - the detail and vibrancy is incredible. It's up there with the $50k systems I've seen. Incredible price/performance.
12 out of 13 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Nice PJ for the money

Written By Philip, Baltimore on Sunday, September 02, 2007
 
I've had the AW15 for about a month now, and I'm very satisfied with it. It's my first PJ, I'm not a hard-core AV dude and didn't calibrate it, and I'm projecting an approximately 120" (diagonal) image on a white wall from about 15' away, and sitting about 14' from the "screen." I use blackout curtains, but during the day I find the image suffers a bit, but improves with "dyanmic" iris setting. At night, the image is fantastic with "cinema." Very good blacks and colors and a rather sharp image. Don't really notice any SDE (screen door effect) from that distance, except certain scenes (e.g. Planet Earth blu-ray snowy background scenes), and none with a 100" image.

This PJ accepts 1080p/24hz and displays it at 720p/48hz. Easy to set up, nice simple design, and flexible lens shift ability. Fan noise on low setting is very quiet, and noticeably louder on high setting. Only problem I have with this PJ is a somewhat high-pitched noise that the PJ emits (not the fan) especially during the first hour or so that it is on, afterwards it seems to decrease. It's not hugely loud, but since the PJ is <2ft from my head, it is a bit distracting during quiet moments in a movie.

Overall, though, a great PJ for this very low price point (great not having to hassle with mail-in rebates). I bought this PJ planning to use it for a couple of years until 1080p LCD PJs fall under $2K (maybe in 2008) or lower. Would buy it again.
80 out of 88 people found this helpful
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