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For some reason, the run up to Christmas looks like being the most prolific season of projector releases ever. We've already recently looked at new offerings from Epson (Epson EH-TW5500) and Vivitek (Vivitek H1080FD), while also piled up in our offices right now are two new projectors from Sony, one from BenQ, one from Optoma and one from Acer. Plus there are imminent new models from JVC and a whole slew of other Epsons all due to roll our way in the coming weeks.
Sitting at the very top of our projector ‘to do' pile, though, and so finding itself in the firing line today, happens to be Sony's VPL-HW15 - a happy coincidence, actually, for oddly enough this is one of the new projectors that I'm most intrigued by.
Why my interest? First, it's the first new projector for a surprisingly long time to showcase Sony's proprietary LCOS-inspired SXRD technology. Second, while the model it succeeds, the HW10, was a very good projector for its money, the HW15 usurps it with a claimed contrast ratio of 60,000:1 that's double the HW10's contrast figure.
Finally, on a more negative note, I have to say that part of my interest in the HW15 is inspired by the way the HW10 has been rather humbled in recent times during one or two head to head comparisons with new projectors from other brands - most notably Epson. In other words, it will be interesting to see if the HW15 manages to keep up with the new LCD and DLP Joneses when it comes to colour tones and dynamics.
Let's start, though, with a quick look at the HW15's styling. As with all SXRD projectors to date, it's actually a very attractive thing in its curvaceous shape and glossy finish.
It's a quite large and heavy beast too, hinting at some surprisingly good build quality for such a reasonably priced projector, and suggesting that it's definitely aimed at real movie fans, rather than being some casual device intended to be forever taken in and out of cupboards for occasional gaming or sporting event nights. It perhaps feels a touch lazy on Sony's part that the HW15 actually looks absolutely identical to the HW10, but they could argue that as the previous design wasn't broken, there was no need to fix it!