PROS / Very affordable price for a 720p projector, powerful lamp.
CONS / Very low contrast ratio, heavier than similar 720p projectors.
VERDICT / Affordable and a great image, despite low contrast ratio.
Sony’s 3LCD 720p Front Projector (model number VPL-BW7) is a very affordable 720p unit that’s great among the home theater projectors on our list. However, the low contrast ratio makes brights and darks look murky compared to similar units with higher contrast ratios.
Ease of Use
Since the 3LCD 720p Front Projector is small and relatively light (though heavier than similar 720p home theater projectors), installing the unit from the ceiling or on a stand near the floor should be easy. Once all cables are connected from the television receiver (cable, satellite, etc.), DVD or Blu-ray player and gaming console, the out-of-the-box image is pretty good.
You can use image presets or easily use the menu system to customize the overall image to your preferences. Sports, television programming, movies and video games look great, despite the 720p maximum output. It’s also a great projector for business or student presentations, via the PC Input and a Windows PC or Mac computer. Lack of VGA doesn’t keep this projector down.
Sony uses 3LCD technology (3-chip) to deliver a maximum of 720p HD resolution (total resolution is actually 1280 x 800, WXGA). If you have 1080p or 1080i content, the projector will play it back, but only at 720p resolution. It also supports 480i/p (NTSC, North America) and 576i/p (PAL, Europe) standard definition (SD) resolutions. The image support is 16 x 9 widescreen.
The colors look great with the 3LCD technology, but the contrast ratio of 1,000:1 is very weak, making whites and blacks look a little murky, not as “true” as they should be. One plus, though, is the noise reduction feature, which keeps artifacting to a minimum.
The powerful 270-watt lamp puts out a great 2,000 lumens, more than the higher-end 1080p home theater projectors, giving it a pleasantly bright image. The projected distance (throw) is between 58.8 inches and 303.6 inches, while the image size (measured diagonally) is 40 inches to 200 inches, making it great for small rooms or auditoriums.
The interface, where cables connect, includes HDMI, Composite (RCA, A/V), S-Video and a PC Video Input (HD-15 Pin) for connecting to Macs or Windows PCs. There aren't any audio inputs or a built-in speaker.
As with similar 720- home theater projectors, this unit is smaller and lighter in size, which is about average in its category of 720p units. Its overall dimensions are 11.2 inches wide, 7.9 inches deep and 4.4 inches high. It weighs a hefty 7.1 pounds, nearly twice that of the Epson PowerLite 1730W, but it’s still lighter than the higher-end 1080p models.
Help & Support
Sony offers a one-year parts and labor warranty, with a 90-day warranty for the lamp. Sony’s tech support is well-respected, so that’s something to keep in mind when making a purchase decision.
Tech support options include phone and email contact, along with live chat, so getting in touch with a trained technician is easy. Other options include a user manual and a FAQs/Knowledge Base for common answers.
The Sony 3LCD 720p Front Projector is of great overall value, giving a very good 720p image, though the low contrast ratio hurts it. Sony’s products are well-respected, as is their warranty, so it’s something to consider when making your final purchase.