Sony VPL-CW125 review
The VPL-CW125 is Sony’s first compact projector aimed at those with widescreen notebooks, as it delivers a native 1,366 x 800 WXGA resolution and an aspect ratio of 16:9. It also takes network capabilities a step further, as along with standard browser-based administrative access it allows multiple users to access the projector and each run their own presentations from a remote location.
The projector offers a good range of input and output connections, although DVI and HDMI inputs aren’t provided. Vertical adjustment is handled by drop-down legs and ratchets on each front corner, while zoom and focus are adjusted with two wheels to the side of the lens. A manual control panel stretches across the back and offers access to input selection, the main OSD menu and keystone correction. For the latter, the projector also has an automatic horizontal keystone adjustment. Coined SideShot, this allows the projector to be set at an angle to the screen, although in practice we found adjustments only allowed the image to be set little more than 1m away from the centre.
The bundled AirShot is installed on each PC that wants to access the projector over the network. It’s designed primarily to support wireless connections using USB adapters, but you can promote your wired connections as the preferred choice. Pressing the projector icon on the AirShot interface starts the connection process, which offers the option to kick off the current user, but only if they agree. Usefully, you can password-protect access and create group profiles that associate specific PCs with a projector. The projector’s web interface provides good administrative access, with an option to control all the functions in the OSD and remotely power the projector on and off. You can even display all AirShot-connected PCs, disconnect the active user and pass control to another.
We tested the projector in our full-sized boardroom and placed it 4.2m away from the screen, where it delivered an impressive picture at the highest light output setting. Black text on a white background was clean and sharp at all usable font sizes, while the red, green and blue colour ramps in our technical test were reproduced without any banding. Colour photos and charts were sharp and bright, making for a good impact in presentations, and the former showed reasonable levels of detail in darker areas. For general presentations, the standard mode was usable, although our audience felt that colour quality was dull and lost some impact. We also noticed contrast suffering on the highest zoom.
Noise levels on the high light output setting didn’t cause any concerns, although the standard mode reduces this to little more than a whisper. The remote control is easy to use, and we found we could access the projector no matter where we stood. The controls on the top panel were also easy to use, although considering the differences between the two output modes it would be useful to have a quick-swap button rather than having to hunt through the OSD.
For the price, Sony’s first mid-range widescreen projector offers a good range of accessible features. We liked the network sharing, but overall quality at the standard output setting could be better.
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