Sony VPL-EX175 XGA LCD Projector Review

Sony VPL-EX175 Projector: Bottom Line

The Sony VPL-EX175 is an interesting projector. I’m sometimes thinking it’s a throwback projector, typical of projectors several years ago. Yet from other perspectives it’s anything but dated, in fact, it’s very high tech.

For example, the projector does lack a number of minor features found on other models in our Education report. I mentioned it lacks a Mic input elsewhere in this review. Several competing projectors offer that. Nor is it a 3D projector. Its networking is wired, but no wireless networking (that was a surprise to me, since this is the highest end projector in their EX series). It also lacks remote mousing as found on some of the other projectors in our Education Projector Report. Of course, this projector is targeted primarily for education, and there are plenty of 3rd party remote mousing systems that mostly all work as well or better than what comes on board those projectors that sport remote mousing.

Video performance is particularly good. True, it lacks the kind of black level performance found on home theater projectors, but other than that, video is very impressive.

Text is clean and clear at native XGA resolution. The projector worked fine up to 1600×1200 resolutions, whether fed from a Mac or a PC. On the video side, the projector is designed to work with 1080i and 1080p signals.

Two of the most dazzling things about this Sony VPL-EX175 are the brightness, and the low cost of operation. There’s more than enough horsepower for any classroom or training room, even with a goodly amount of light (no, projectors can’t handle sunlight hitting a screen – pretty much ever).

In the image to the right, I’m using a MacBook Pro with Display windowing turned off. As a result, you can view one screen from the laptop on the computer, but the Sony is projecting the 2nd display image. (You can drag items back and forth, but that’s a computer feature, not the projector’s.) Again, notice that the projected image is actually brighter than my laptop, with its display on maximum brightness.

I suspect that most users – thanks to the inherent brightness of the Sony – will run the EX175 in either Low or Medium power, for long lamp life. The lamp is rated 6000 and 4500 hours respectively, for Low and Medium. Even the really bright High lamp mode, is good for 3000 hours. An intelligent purchasing strategy might be to buy this projector (which is already affordable relative to brightness and feature set), and run it in modes Low and Medium only, so that cost of operation is minimal. That likely will result in noticeably less expense than a slightly less expensive, but less bright projector that is running its lamp at full power.

The Sony’s cost of operation should be one of the lowest ones in the Report, thanks to the lamp life, and three year warranty.

The networking is pretty standard stuff, and the EX175 projector supports a range of room control, and building control systems including Crestron, AMX and PJlink. We are not experts in this area, nor do we test. We are aware that the Sony can notify administrators, through the network, with info such as time to change the lamp.

Sony VPL-EX175 Projector: Pros

  • Low cost of ownership thanks to very long life lamp and filter that only changes with the lamp change.
  • Solid 3 year warranty
  • 1.3:1 zoom offers a bit more range than most other competitors, a plus, since Sony sees this projector as a quick and easy replacement for older projectors
  • Very bright (and beat its claimed brightness) in a classroom or conference room setting. Definitely large room capable.
  • Very good color overall, in its best modes approaching that of good home theater projectors
  • No required cool down period when finished – unplug and pack
  • Eco mode button (on remote control) – quickly drops projector to Low power, and sets other features for maximum power saving
  • Hard wired networking that supports major “room” systems including Crestron, AMX and PJlink
  • Should prove an excellent replacement projector for older, lower resolution projectors, a market Sony targets with the EX series projectors
  • One of the better value propositions of the projectors reviewed for the Education Projector Report

Sony VPL-EX175 Projector: Cons

  • No HDMI port (or DVI)
  • Bulkier than many competitors (for those using it as a portable)
  • Lacks a lot of flashy features (like Mic inputs)
  • Remote control could use remote mousing functions
  • Noisy in High lamp mode, more so than almost all the other projectors in the Report. In Medium power though, it’s quieter than most other projectors reviewed, when they are at High on their lamps (and in many cases, the Sony will still be brighter)
  • Although the warranty length of 3 years is better than average, the Sony lacks a quick exchange or loaner program

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