Most of the projector’s other tools are pretty straightforward, leaving me perhaps wishing for just a little more to play with – such as a serious colour management facility, perhaps. Considering the HW15’s sub-£2k price, however, it’s hard to complain.
Although the HW15’s array of adjustments isn’t the most comprehensive in the world, the features on offer are capable of making pictures look really quite startlingly different, so should be handled with care. For instance, going too heavy on contrast and colour, and leaving the gamma set too high, can really start to make pictures look noisy and bleached out in bright areas.
For this reason it’s best that novices stick with the provided Cinema mode for most of the time, while braver/more experienced souls should waste no time at all in using something like the HD Video Essentials Blu-ray to calibrate images accurately, rather than just trying to do it using their own eyes.
Once the HW15’s images are calibrated correctly, though, there’s no doubt at all that they improve on those of the HW10 by quite some margin.
For instance, a few hours spent roaming the streets of New Mombasa at night in Halo 3: ODST, or watching James Bond play cards in Casino Royale, are enough to prove that the HW15’s black levels are definitely deeper and more refined (less affected by green undertones) than those of the HW10.
They’re not, however, twice as good, as one might naively have hoped considering that the HW15’s claimed contrast ratio is double that of the HW10. There is an incremental increase, though, and while I haven’t yet seen the imminent new projectors in the same price bracket from the likes of InFocus and Epson, I’d be surprised if the increase isn’t enough to keep Sony very much in the black level game.
What’s even better about this is the fact that the improved black levels are joined by higher brightness levels than we saw on the HW10. As a result, images during dark and bright scenes alike have noticeably more dynamism. Furthermore, the higher brightness should help the HW15 satisfy bigger screen sizes than the HW10 could.
The punchier look to the HW15’s pictures, along with the wide colour gamut option, perhaps helps explain why colours look better than they did on the HW10, with noticeably more natural tones – especially where skin is concerned – and a general boost in vibrancy.