Sony VPL-BW7 home theatre projector
Sony's entry-level home theatre projector produces high brightness levels at a low cost
- High lumens output, backlit remote control, good image quality overall
- Lacks 1080p capability, no audio output, doesn't perform as claimed in well-lit areas
This projector's low display resolution means you won't be able to make the most of 1080p high-definition media, but for 720p movies and games, the VPL-BW7 does an admirable job considering its price.
Price$ 1,795.00 (AUD)
For the same price as a mid-range 42in HDTV, Sony's VPL-BW7 projector provides a larger image with decent quality. High brightness and contrast mean the VPL-BW7's image is still somewhat visible in a well-lit area, though don't expect the best quality in less than optimal surroundings.
The Sony VPL-BW7 is surprisingly small and light for a home theatre projector, weighing only 3kg. The black colour scheme will not stand out in a darkened room. A single fan at the front of the enclosure is audible if you sit close to the projector, but it's not loud enough to distract you during a movie. The projector's integrated controls sit on the top rather than the side, making them difficult to reach if the projector is placed upside-down.
Inputs include single HDMI, composite, S-Video and RGB ports, all of which are available on the back panel. Unfortunately, Sony hasn't seen fit to build a speaker or even fit audio outputs to the projector, so you will have to run HDMI sources through a receiver first.
The Sony VPL-BW7 projects a maximum 1200x800 resolution with a 16:9 aspect ratio. At this resolution, the projector won't be able to display 1080p high-definition content, but can it still display standard definition as well as 720p and 1080i media. The VPL-BW7 uses Sony's BrightEra technology, which allows it to output 1500 lumens of light in standard mode or 2000 lumens in high brightness mode, while also delivering a 1000:1 contrast ratio. Infocus' IN1503 boasts better specifications for a slightly more expensive price tag, though it is better to suited to the office than a home entertainment setup.
You won't be able to replace the lens in the VPL-BW7 like you can with higher end projectors, but it is capable of producing a 300in image. Throw distance is also quite short; it can project a focussed 100in image from as close as 3.1m.
One of Sony's main selling points for the VPL-BW7 is its ability to perform capably in a well-lit area, unlike most home cinema projectors. This is due to the projector's light output of 2000 lumens in high brightness mode, which is a relatively good figure given the price tag. Though we found the VPL-BW7's image to be visible under direct light, the quality is less than stellar. Blacks and even marginally dark areas become difficult to see, ruining the viewing experience for anything but well-lit and highly saturated scenes or vibrant games.
Thankfully, quality is much improved when the projector is placed in a darkened room. Black levels aren't particularly impressive, but with a contrast ratio of 1000:1, we didn't really expect them to be. It reproduced fast motion without any issues, and images on the whole did not suffer from excessive noise.
The bundled remote control is backlit, and provides easy access to menus even when pointed at the projected image instead of the projector. From the remote, you'll be able to access three preset image quality settings, as well as a further three user preset configurations. We found the "Dynamic" picture setting produced the most visible image in a well-lit area, but also washed out black levels.
Home theatre enthusiasts are likely to find fault with the VPL-BW7's display resolution, as well as its performance under direct light. However, the price tag makes this projector a reasonable option for low-cost home theatre setups.
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