What Does an Affordable Laser Projector Look Like?

Sony LaserLite Laser Projectors

So, what does an affordable laser projector look like? Let’s start with Sony, as with their recent announcements they are the first to really bring out true laser projectors in the $2000 to $3000 range with their first two new LaserLite models.

Sony VPL-PWZ10
WXGA for $2199, with 5000 lumens, constant brightness feature, LAN, and plenty of zoom and lens shift, 20,000 hour laser engine at full power.

The lower cost LaserLite – their VPL-PWZ10, lists for a rock bottom “estimated street price” of $2200.  For that, you get WGA resolution, 5000 lumens at full power, with a laser light source claim of 20,000 hours.  (or if you need constant brightness for a special project  – 12,000 hours at 4500 lumens!  Sony pairs the laser light engine with 3 LCD panels, thus offering the same number of color, and white lumens, a great indication that even at or near full power, color will be extremely good. 

The PWZ10. Has HDMI inputs, and even HDBaseT which is good for running HDMI and command and control over long distances on low-cost CAT6 cable. 

The zoom lens has a healthy 1.6:1 zoom, and there’s a good amount of lens shift!  There’s LAN (local area networking) but best I can tell from pre-release info, no wireless option.  Still, that’s an impressive feature set.  In a lamp based projector, you are typically going to be looking at around $1500 list for well endowed (3LCD) 5000 lumen projector. 

If you want higher resolution than WXGA, aka just under $3000, or a “mere” $800 more than the VPL-PWZ10 Sony offers the almost identical VPL-PHZ10 – with WUXGA resolution (1920×1200) – which is slightly higher resolution than 1080p. 

Don’t get too excited, too soon.  Although Sony just announced these on Feb 1st, the WXGA VPL-PWZ10 will ship in June, and the VPL-PH10 in August (2017). 

That said, schools shop in the spring, and install in the summer, so no doubt Sony will make sure these are shipping in time.

As you will see, these projectors are at a whole new price point for laser/phosphor projectors, way below the competition.

Sony LaserLite VPL-PHZ10 Affordable Projector
The VPL-PHZ10 looks identical to it’s less expensive, lower resolution twin. The PHZ10 offers WUXGA (1920×1200) native resolution for $2999

NEC Laser Projectors

NEC is also certainly worth mentioning.  They were serving up the lowest cost laser projectors (with 3LCD) – until Sony recently came along with models discussed above at far lower prices. We really liked the NEC Laser we reviewed, gave it a major award almost a year ago when reviewed. But price-wise, their WXGA model is definitely a step up in price, at  $3499 for NEC’s WXGA, and $4699 for their WUXGA.  There are some differences between Sonys and NECs although they all weigh in just under 20 pounds.  The NEC offers optional wireless capabilities, and a slightly longer range zoom 1.7:1 instead of 1.6:1. The NEC uses a single chip DLP, rather than 3LCD.   

NEC P502WL Projector Front
We found the NP-502WL to be the most affordable serious laser projector in the spring of 2016. WXGA resolution, and a solid feature set.

I expect the Sony pricing will put pricing pressure on NEC’s models.

CASIO Hybrid LED/Laser Projectors

Next, we’ll look briefly at Casio, who has been making very affordable hybrid projectors for less than $2000 for quite some time, even some under $1000.

Casio XJ-F210WN Projector
The Casio XJ-F210WN, is an affordable LED/Laser combination light engine. It is less than half as bright as the “affordable” true laser projectors discussed, but does offer a solid state alternative for just over $1000.

Understand, we’re not talking Apples to Apples here.  We’ve reviewed I think 5 different hybrid LED/Laser Casios over the years.  Most models have more limited feature sets, but some are nicely equipped. Casio’s hybrid design has shown some interesting quirks, such as that the projector is brightest when first powering up. We’ve recorded brightness dropping up to 20% in the first couple of minutes. Still, that’s simply a factor to consider.

The Casio XJF210WN shown above is even more affordable than the Sony’s, with their WXGA model at $1049. The Casio’s use a single chip DLP. I can tell you from past reviews, that you’ll sacrifice a good bit of the maximum brightness (3500 lumens claimed) before color gets pretty good. But Casio’s typically have measured well below their claims – topping out at only 2200 white lumens, and in Theater mode with really good color, only 1470 lumens.  Compared to a 3LCD with laser, where you get better color without having to give up much brightness, I’d have to say that from a practical standpoint, the Casio is just over 1/3 as bright as the Sony. 

Of course, not everyone needs 5000 lumens, or even 3500. Still, the Casios measure in less bright than the typical low cost lamp projectors. The Casio, like the Sonys, has Local Area Networking (LAN) and USB inputs. And, it’s far more road warrior worthy at under 9 lbs. so a bit less than half the weight, and a little less zoom lens, but still nicely equipped.  Also no HDBaseT to lower the cost of cabling.  If you need solid state, but are on a serious budget diet, the Casio is the ticket, but, it is not serious competition for the NECs or Sonys. It’s that simple.

There are probably a couple other laser projectors from other brands, that price out along the lines of the NEC models mentioned, but the NECs are representative.

That folks is a good taste of what laser or hybrid laser projectors are looking like in the first half of 2017.

Those of you managing multiple projectors are the ones who most immediately can appreciate the significant resource saving.  But, also any users who need consistent color, or relatively consistent brightness over years, also should be thinking laser first.

News and Comments

  • Kelly Gibson

    So I see the prices are finally coming down on these projectors. And you still get a good image. Usually 5000 lumen projectors run for over $4,000. So i’m definitely interested in the laser light projectors.

  • José Maertens

    I use a cheap China Noyazu Android pocket projector. Works great, better than I thought! Watching a movie in a bright sunny room is even more or less possible. But using the webbrowser in same bright sunny room is not really bright. Depends of the distance between wall and projector. But the darker the room the better it works. I only paid 134eu … I can’t complain about it. Over a 2 yrs it cost maybe only 50eu But paying 4000$ that is stupid as a home user. The world is changing to fast to spend a lot of money on electronics. Oh, I have a second bigger Chinese one to. Cost / paid 65eu and this works a lot better than the pocket one. Now we can buy pocket androids projectors with laser to. Slightly more expensive but also a little better in brightness I think? The problem is we users can’t compare it in real time. Most shops doesn’t sell these things. The only way is watching some demo’s on youtube and reading media and hope it’s true what they tell us.

    • ProjectorReviews.com

      Hi Jose’ I’ll have to disagree – $4000 EU for home use reasonable for those who can afford it, pretty much like anything else. If someone can afford an fairly expensive luxury car – the more expensive BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, etc, they can easily afford an expensive home theater projector, which is why there are plenty of models out there up to about $35K, and a number more for the super rich.
      That said, these laser projectors I’m talking about in the article are targeting businesses and education. The point is that until the last year or so, “serious” (not pico) laser projectors for business started mostly in the $5000 – $6000 range (US).
      When I’m watching in my home theater, I expect picture quality approaching the better commercial movie theaters. That’s deliverable today, with some trade-offs, with some rather dazzling models from $2500 US. However, true 4K projectors (same resolution as what’s in the commercial theaters) tend to start around $15,000! -art