Sony VPL-EX175 Projector - Image Quality
4-5-2011 - Art Feierman
Sony VPL-EX175 Color & Picture Quality
The Sony VPL-EX175 offers impressive color, as the photos below clearly indicate. Only the brightest mode fails to provide reasonably accurate colors, as you can see from the photos. Presentation mode (the brightest), has a yellowish green caste as do the brightest modes of many projectors.
The images below show you the main Picture Modes of the VPL-EX175 projector. In addition, these images were all taken at the same exposure, so you can sell the relative difference in brightness as well as color differences.
There's also a Game mode (not shown), which, intentionally seems to be designed to lift black levels (lighten them), which no doubt improves viewing of games that are dark, especially if there is ambient light present. Its color accuracy is also pretty good, looking better in terms of color, than the Presentation mode.
In the image above you can the Sony filling a screen size of almost 60 inches diagonal (small classroom or conference room size). The Sony projector is sufficiently bright in Presentation mode, that it is obviously far brighter than the screen of my MacBook Pro, which was set for maximum brightness for this photo. The Sony can deal rather effortlessly, with all but maximum ambient light, in a classroom or medium conference room, and still look pretty good, with good to excellent color, depending on the Picture mode you decide to go with.
If color is a key concern for the type of presenting or teaching the projector will be used for (and other uses, of course), this Sony is going to be one of the best choices in this year's report. While we've seen some DLP projectors with pretty impressive color in bright modes (normally a DLP challenge), none can match this Sony VPL-EX175, not even the far more expensive Sharp PG-D45X3D projector. Other 3LCD projectors should offer similar color accuracy, so for those color conscious, look for other LCD projectors like the Epson Powerlite 96W and the Hitachi CP-X5021N.
Sony VPL-EX175 Projector: Readability
Of course today, there are higher resolution projectors out there, than the standard XGA (1024x768) of this Sony projector. At XGA resolution even small type down to 10 point, is nice and crisp (although, you always need to be in the front row, of a presentation to have any change of reading anything that small). That's why title type in Powerpoint is ususally 36 to 48 points, and bullet text, typically from 24 to 36 points in size. The small type around charts is usually 14 - 18 points. Excel spreadsheets, for example use 10 points for standard type on a busy spreadsheet.
In other words, the Sony looks nice and sharp, with readability that is based on seating distance, not limitations in the clarity of documents displayed by this Sony EX175 projector.
Below, a photo of the screen showing type sizes from 8 to 24 points.
In the image below, the computer fed the VPL-EX175 a higher resolution image, one of UXGA - 1600x1200. That of course makes all type sizes appear smaller. The image below was taken without adjusting the zoom. Because of the larger "page" size, more fits into the same physical space. Click on the image below for an enlargement. All the type appears a bit soft due to the compression technology to make 1600x1200 fit into 1024x768. Still, while the image is a touch soft, it's still very readable. This is typical of a good projector when being fed an high res image where the projector has to toss out/interpolate over 50% of the data, to make things fit. Up close, the softness is obvious, but in a normal presenting environment, most likely only noticeable to the folks sitting the closest, who still will be able to read the smaller type. Remember a word in 24 point type occupies a much smaller space of the image at 1600x1200. Basically 24 point type at UXGA is going to be roughly the same size as 14 point type on XGA.
(Note, the two images above were taken with the Sony's brightest mode - Presentation, which adds a yellowish green cast that you can see above in the model's face...)
Sony VPL-EX175 Projector: Video Performance
Not surprisingly the Sony did just fine on videos. A brief look at a movie, found it to be pretty clean of artifacts. Not up to a good home theater projector, but more than fine for typical business or educational videos, even good ones. The Sony handled 1080p content coming in from a Blu-ray player, without difficulty. YouTube videos looked - well, they rarely look great anyway, but they looked fine. I viewed one of the YouTube videos we did about a projector review, as well as a couple of assorted ones.
Cinema mode is particularly good looking with very good color balance that looks really good on skin tones. It's the least bright mode, but still puts out about 1200 lumens, without pushing contrast, etc. That's plenty for classroom video, with some lighting control.