Sony VPL-EX175 XGA LCD Projector Review
Sony VPL-EX175 Appearance
The Sony VPL-EX175 is a nice looking projector – finished in shiny white, with dark grey/black grillwork in the front. It’s taller than most in its class. The lens is recessed, and located toward the right (when facing the projector).The lens offers manual focus and zoom. Those are controlled by two vertical adjustment rings located on the right side of the projector, next to the lens. Venting of hot air is out the front.
There is an IR sensor for the remote, on the bottom right of the front of the VPL-EX175. On the bottom by the front, are two screw thread adjustable feet. The back bottom has a drop adustable bar in the center. Note, when using on a table, you are more likely to need the back adjustment than the front legs as there’s a lot of built in lens shift, so the bottom of the image starts well above the projector’s position.
From a placement standpoint, the 1.3:1 zoom lens provides only slightly more placement flexibility than the average projector (typical is 1.2:1). From a positioning standpoint, for a 100″ diagonal 4:3 screen (XGA shaped), the closest the front of the projector can be to the screen is approximately 9 feet 4 inches, and the furthest is 12 feet 1 inch.
The full control panel (covered below), is on the top by the back center, and is pretty typical.
The lamp door is on the bottom of the projector, as is the air filter (all LCD projectors have filters, although many DLP’s do not). The filter looks to be changeable without unmounting the projector when ceiling mounted. Be careful though, that may depend on which projector mount you use. I’d guess that based on where the screw holes are, that Sony makes one specifically that won’t cover the air filter compartment. Various universal mounts may not, so check with your dealer or manufacturer about which mount..
Sony VPL-EX175 Setup
The control panel, as noted, is on the top, by the back. It’s about as typical as you can expect to find. From the left, the Power switch (once for on, twice for off). The Input button is next. the larger round navigation ring is dead center. The arrow keys are in a round configuration, with the Enter button in the center. To the right, is the Menu button itself, and last (the right) is the one non-typical button. That one is labeled Eco mode, and of course allows you to switch between bright and low power modes.
Note that this Sony has three power modes. Instead of bright and low (eco) they also have a Medium mode, which seems to measure a little closer to Eco, than High. The range between Eco and High is much greater than the normal range found with most projectors.
Sony VPL-EX175 Remote Control
The Sony EX175 remote control is a smaller affair. It’s not quite as small as those pesky credit card remotes (most of which are at least somewhat limited on range). This Sony remote’s range is not an issue, it worked at 20 feet with no problem. Buttons are pretty good, some perhaps, a touch rubbery. No backlight, of course, very few non-home projectors offer a backlight (too bad, there are times when a backlight on a remote is a real convenience).
OK, the power switch (press once for on, twice for off), is green and in the upper right corner. The rest of the buttons are light or dark gray. Immediately below, left to right are three more round buttons for Input (brings up a menu, or you can hit Input repeatedly to scroll through the choices). There’s the APA button (auto pixel align) for locking in on analog PC signals, and the Eco button for the standard Eco mode setups (lamp brightness, standby features), or you can customize.
Next come flat Menu and Reset buttons, and below that, the navigation arrows in a diamond shape, with center Enter button. The next grouping include Return, Aspect Ratio, Keystone, and (test) Pattern.
Finally, there’s digital zoom (up and down), Volume (same), a Freeze button and separate buttons for Picture and Audio muting. No remote mousing, no pointer, no laser, but a good basic small remote. It’s also nothing exciting to write about, but it gets the job done.
Sony VPL-EX175 Input Panel and Connections
The rear of this Sony projector is fairly well endowed in terms of inputs and outputs. That said, the most obvious missing input is HDMI. That’s OK, as is the case last year, a good number of the projectors aimed at schools do not offer HDMI.
Except for the power recepticle, all the connections are on the back just below the top. The power is below on the left. The easiest way to run though all of these, is from left to right, as you see them in the photo:
From the left rear of the EX175 projector: S-video, a composite video (yellow RCA jack), a pair of RCA connectors for left and right audio, for the video sources. Next comes the first computer input (HD15) which can be used for computer or component video. Next is a second computer input (no component), and then the monitor out. Look closely though and to the right of each of those HD15 connectors, is a stereo audio mini input, one for each, and one for the monitor out. Nice touch having 3 separate, stereo audio inputs.
What this Sony projector lacks is an HDMI (or DVI) digital input. Each year we are seeing more projectors designed for the education market, and small installations, sporting HDMI (or DVI). That would be one item of consideration in some school districts. Many people with Macs prefer to use their digital DVI output to connect to other HDMI, rather than using analog inputs. For perspective, I would still say that the majority of models targeting education still lack HDMI (or DVI).
The Sony VPL-EX175 is also a networking computer, so of course there is an ethernet LAN connector, and finally, there’s an RS-232 serial port for external command and control.
In the center back near the bottom, is the bar to press to drop the rear wide foot. Unless the bottom of the screen you are projecting onto is well above the projector, you’ll find yourself using the back foot to raise the rear of the EX175 to put that image where it belongs on the screen. That’s not a better or worse, just something the Sony does a bit differently than most.
All the inputs and connections are labeled on the projector running across the back, below the connectors themselves. Although hard to see in the small image above, it’s all clearly marked, making it easy to figure out what’s what.
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