Sony Goes Wide on Projectors

If you want the biggest HD image for the lowest price, the clear choice is a front projector. Until recently, however, there was not much middle ground in your choices. The standard business projectors with their XGA and SVGA resolution are perfectly capable of displaying a wide standard definition image — often called Enhanced Definition — and you can take your pick for $500 to $800 or so. For the home theater installations, add a zero to that price. Sony and Mitsubishi made waves last fall by bringing out 1080p projectors for under $5,000, which was about half the price of competing products at that point.

But if you wanted a high-definition projector at an affordable price, your choices were limited. Now Sony has filled in the gap with two new LCD projectors. Both are 720p resolution, and have automatic irises that adjust the amount of light depending on how bright the scene is, which enhances contrast. Both have a brightness rating of 1,100 lumens, and are scheduled to ship in June. The VPL-AW10 is expected to have a $1,000 retail price. The VPL-AW15 adds more features, including vertical and horizontal lens shift, and will sell for $1,300.

Couple one of these with one of the new (and expensive) screens that rejects ambient light, and you can have an impressively huge image for about the price of a plasma display that only has about one-fourth the display area.