Sony Cineza HS51A Review – Their latest LCD powered, home theater projector

Menus

Sony’s menus are organized logically, but the Picture menu is many layers deep, a bit cumbersome if you are trying to fine tune colors.

Part of the menus are translucent.

The Main menu also shows the first level menu that is selected. Here you see the Main menu on the left, and the first layer of the Picture menu on the right. This next image shows the Adjust Picture sub menu, which, in turn contains most of the control of color, etc. for the projecto, including Contrast, brightness, Color (saturation) Black Level adjust, Gamma, and Color Temperature.

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HS51A

Menus

main

Menu

ADjust

menu

color temp

menu

CustomRGB

The next image shows the Color Temp menu, and if you select one of the Customs, you finally get to RGB settings.

Each of the Custom menus allows you to plug in different settings.

When calibrating the projector, I made the changes to the Red, Green, and Blue brightness and contrast here in the Custom 3 menu.

Above we discussed the controls for navigating the menus on the remote control. If you look back on the Overview (first) section of the review, you will also see the tiny “joystick” for navigating the menus on the side of the HS51A projector

Lamp Life

Sony rates lamp life as 2000 hours in full power and 3000 in low power, typical for most home theater projectors. Please note, a lamp rated 2000 hours probably has a 50/50 chance of lasting that long. Expect a noticeable percentage of lamps to only last 1500 hours or less, others will last over 2500. This is the way it is with projector lamps. Also, your lamp will dim over time, with most of the dimming in the first few hundred hours. For that reason some people replace their lamps earlier than 2000 hoursas they find their projector has gotten a bit dimmer. (Again, this is the case for most projectors, not specifically the Sony HS51A.

Projector Screen Recommendations

My new testing room now has a Carada “Brilliant White” 1.4 gain screen (106″ diagonal), however for my measurements, and photo shoot, I only fill an 82″ diagonal. For side by side shots I’m running two projectors, each doing 50″ diagonal.

On the 82″ sized image, even in low power/Cinema mode, the Sony is plenty bright, so I would say that the HS51A can handle screens to 100″ or perhaps a little larger,, depending on screen type, and room issues (such as ambient light, and whether your walls are light or dark), without having to move up to the lower contrast Standard or Dynamic modes.

Despite the high contrast ratio, this is still an LCD projector and it can’t get as close to doing a black (and preserving shadow details), as more expensive DLP projectors. Thanks to the Auto Iris and other “AI” techniques, in scenes without bright areas, the Sony can compensate, and improve shadow detail, and lower the black levels, but, its still not going to match the blacks of a Darkchip 3 DLP projector, on most normal scenes.

As a result, if you are not going with a large screen, I would recommend a high contrast gray screen, but those will cost you some lumens. I don’t think I would be comfortable with a Dalite Cinema Contour, or Carada gray surface any larger than 100″ diagonal. The light gray Firehawk would be my preferred, but that may be a bit pricey for many.

Please note, these are my screen preferences. The difference between how a projector looks on one type of screen vs. another, is greater than the general differences between similarly priced projectors, so take what I say with a grain of salt. I did view the Sony extensively with the 1.4 Brilliant White Carada. The blacks are too gray at the 82″ size I viewed at, but a screen like this one, or a StudioTek 130 from Stewart, might be good ways to go if you want as large a screen as possible, say 110″.

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