Sony VPL-FH30 WUXGA 3LCD Projector Review

Sony VPL-FH30 Color & Picture Quality

Most Sony projectors have good color balance and the VPL-FH30 is no exception, displaying a sharp, clear image with rich, well-saturated colors.  Colors are very good with any video connection, but using a high definition source over HDMI really adds pop to the displayed image.  Unlike many projectors, the VPL-FH30’s colors are also quite good in Presentation (the brightest) mode.  There is a bit of a greenish cast in white scenes, but reds and yellows are still quite accurate.  This means you can make full use of the projector’s lumen output with many presentations that don’t require perfect color, without the result looking unnatural.  However, if you don’t need the full lumen output, dropping down to Dynamic mode will cover most presentation needs.  Going to Standard mode, you’ll find very little difference from Dynamic mode, but it does give you the most accurate colors, with better contrast contributing to greater image depth.

Click Image to Enlarge

As a result of the very good color rendition, photographic images were crisp, with well-saturated colors.  Due to the high resolution, small details were well defined as well.  An array of nature photos I viewed looked quite natural, without any particular color oversaturation or deficiency.

Dynamic Mode
Presentation Mode
Standard Mode

Sony VPL-FH30 Projector: Readability

Readability really is the forte of the VPL-FH30.  With its high resolution (1920 x 1200) and quality optics, no detail was too small to be displayed clearly.  Small (8 pt.) text was sharp and easily readable even on a 100” diagonal projected image.  This was true of white text-on-black and yellow text-on-dark blue backgrounds as well.  Convergence was very good for a 3LCD projector, which can sometimes be subject to slight misalignment, resulting in a very sharp image with all sorts of source material.  Also, switching from HDMI to an analog input did not noticeably affect image sharpness.  As it’s unlikely that a source component will be at a higher resolution than the VPL-FH30’s native resolution, there should be no problem with readability on any presentation.

Switching to WSXGA+ (1680 x 1050) and XGA (1024 x 768) resolutions to test the FH30’s video processing, there was no drop-off in image quality.  Of course, most projectors don’t have a problem with resolutions that are lower than their native resolution, so this was hardly a surprise.  There was no fringing or color separation of any sort on even the smallest text.

As is the case with many multimedia projectors, there is a movable electronic zoom that allows the user to zoom in on a particular section of the screen.  This can be very handy for pointing out details in photos or charts.  You can also freeze the displayed image via a button on the remote.

native WUXGA resolution
1680x1050
1024x768

Sony VPL-FH30 Projector: Video Quality

Due to the high resolution of the VPL-FH30, viewing video from a Blu-ray source was quite satisfying.  Unfortunately for those wishing to get the brightest possible image, the Presentation mode (like the gamma settings) is only available with a computer input.  So, if you need maximum brightness for your video, you’ll have to display it from a computer feed.  Also, when it comes to movie viewing, the relatively low contrast ratio (2000:1) of the VPL-FH30 was a detriment to anything with dark scenes, which inevitably ended up looking a bit washed out.  On the plus side, it’s very good color depth and brightness would make watching daytime viewing of sports a pleasure.  In this regard, most home theater projectors would not be able to compete with the VPL-FH30.  Its high brightness provides for a very enjoyable picture, with good color balance, without appearing washed out.

Video presentations of lower resolution material over an analog connection from a laptop were also quite good, as the VPL-FH30’s upscaling is equal to the task.

As the FH30 is clearly designed for out-of-the-way installation, it has no built-in speaker.  External speakers can be connected to the projector however and the output volume can be controlled by the remote.

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