Sony VPL-FHZ65 Laser Projector Review

Sony’s VPL-FHZ65 Laser Projector offers high performance and better value than earlier commercial laser projectors.

Sony is moving into laser “powered” projectors in a big way.  More than a year ago, they introduced the FHZ65’s predecessor, the 4000 lumen FHZ55, which we reviewed.  Sony also has a more expensive 7000 lumen model.  In addition to these WUXGA (1920×1200) resolution projectors Sony also introduced a pair of true 4K commercial projectors with laser engines.  I wrote about those 4K Sonys after Infocomm 2015.

The Sony VPL-FHZ65 is a very capable projector, with many advanced features, so let’s get started.

Sony VPL-FHZ65 Projector - Overview

The Sony FHZ65 Laser Projector  has an official list price of $15,000, but street price is about 2/3 of that. This is a serious projector often used in some of the most complex installations out there. It’s built to be exceptional not just a a single projector powering an auditorium or executive boardroom, but one capable of working in environments such as museums and art exhibitions, universities, military and commercial command and control centers, large houses of worship, and many unique situations.

The FHZ65 has a host of capabilities to accomplish this. Some of them, that will be discussed in greater depth, include edge blending, multi-projector support, warping, constant brightness, color matching, 24/7 operation, 1 second restart. And of course, a 20,000 life expectancy on it’s laser light engine, instead of a few thousand on a typical lamp. Those are just some of the less standard abilities of this Sony projector.

Of course most situations do not call for all of that fancy “stuff,” but, even if we forget about a lot of those features, what’s left, is a very high resolution, very sharp projector, with excellent color, and color that can be calibrated to the usual standards. Contrast is a healthy 10,000:1 claimed, which should be fine for most commercial situations.  But there may be some dark room uses – say for a photography display where emphasis is on great black levels where this Sony might not be as good a choice as some alternative.  This will be discussed more in the Picture Quality section.  Still, contrast is probably “typical” for a projector this bright.

For just about everything else, the projector performed exceptionally well.

There is a standard zoom lens and four optional ones, with an ultra short throw lens still to be released.  All but the fixed very short throw lens are motorized zoom, focus and lens shift. Speaking of lens shift, the Sony offers a very “healthy” amount of variable shift. Sony even uses “healthy” to describe the lens shift on their site, but that’s a term that says it well. In more words, there’s a lot of lens shift, more than most projectors, but less than the ones with the absolute most, which, in some cases are projectors specifically targeting setups where most projectors can’t be placed.

There are plenty of inputs, which, of course, we’ll cover on this review’s Hardware Tour pages.   The FHZ65 is available in black, or white cases, to best match your environment.

As you would expect from any commercial projector near this quality, it has advanced networking. And, like many higher end commercial projectors (as opposed to relatively inexpensive business portable/small install projectors), it supports HDBaseT, (HDBT) which means you can run HDMI over long distances (max of 328 feet) over low cost CAT5e/CAT6 cable. That’s quickly going to be considered a standard feature, but most still current projectors that have been out there for more than a year, or two, lack that feature.

Typically Ron reviews the “heavy metal” as I like to refer to this class of commercial projector – heavily featured, versatile, and 5000 to 20,000 lumens. Ron’s an engineer by trade, so his reviews tend to be very succinct, and “efficient.” You’ll find my review a bit more wide ranging, more commentary added to the facts and measurements. I’ve reviewed several laser projectors, but the ones I’ve reviewed most recently (until this Sony) have been geared for the home theater. Still, I review several bright, feature laden projectors in this commercial class every year.  Let’s move things along with a bullet list of features, some already mentioned, and then it’s off to our Special Features pages where I’ll cover some of those capabilities including, of course, the laser light engine.

We wish to thank Epson America for sponsoring this year’s Best Classroom Projectors report, in which this projector is considered.

FHZ65 Highlights

This list includes some extra info, some capabilities some special features. It is not comprehensive

  • Street price with standard lens: Typically between $9500 and $10,000 US
  • 1.66:1 standard zoom lens
  • Some Zoom lenses offer motorized zoom, focus, lens shift
  • Reasonable size and weight for capability: 36 lbs. (16kg)
  • Available in white or black case (in most countries)
  • 34 db at full power – relatively quiet for a projector this powerful, “home theater” quiet 28 db in low power
  • Up to 20,000 hour life for laser engine, with all the obvious benefits
  • Exceptionally long, electrostatic life filter system for low maintenance costs
  • More energy efficient than most of the competition

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