Higher Education Projectors Considered: Larger Venue Projectors 2017-2018 page 2

This page has info capsules based on our reviews of the Sony VPL-PHZ10 Laser projector, the Viewsonic Pro8530HDL  and a look at the lower end of Epson’s L series laser projectors.

We wish to thank Epson America for sponsoring this year’s Best Education Projectors report.

Sony VPL-PHZ10 Laser Projector

Sony bills the VPL-PHZ10, a 5000 lumen WUXGA 3LCD laser projector, and its WXGA little brother, the VPL-PWZ10, as the first Affordable laser projectors.  The PHZ10 we reviewed (we reviewed an early engineering sample), should be shipping just as we publish this report, and should have a street price (per Sony) of $2999.

Even better, it’s little brother (WXGA resolution) is expected to street at $2199!  Both prices are noteworthy for laser projectors.  They do seem to be the lowest priced so far, although right after this report publishes I’m off to the Infocomm trade show where others just might be announced.  Last year, one of our award winners was an NEC laser projector – but that was a WXGA model selling for slightly more than this WUXGA.

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Of course there are other solid state projectors, using LED, or LED/laser hybrids, that do cost less.

Overall the Sony really performed.  Although it came up with only 4781 lumens (out of 5000 lumens claimed), remember it’s an early sample, so it’s pretty likely that production units will be a bit brighter. (They sure aren’t very likely to be dimmer!)

Color in “best” modes – Standard and Dynamic was very good.  Color was reasonably accurate but not dead on (Sony documentation that was provided warned that the color tables were not finalized).  Still they looked pretty good!  As a result, I would expect even better out of the box color when the PHZ10 is shipping.  Colors seemed very rich and well saturated.  This is perhaps due, in part to the laser engine with it’s inherently larger color gamut.  Placement flexibility is good, but hardly exceptional, with a 1.45:1 zoom lens and lens shift.  The PHZ10 is noticeably compact for a 5000 lumen projector.  It’s also a bit quieter than most, with, I think, only the InFocus being quieter of this group.

The laser light engine is rated up to 20,000 hours.  It can maintain constant brightness (about 15% less than maximum) for 14,000 hours, this is excellent for signage and museum applications – and the projector can be mounted at any angle.

When it comes to inputs, the Sony seems almost sparse but has what most setups need.  There’s a pair of HDMI inputs and a mini BNC connector for component video, an RJ45 connector for wired networking, a pair of USB 2.0 inputs, a computer input but no monitor out, a composite video and an RS232 serial port for “old school” command and control.  Lastly, there’s a 16 watt speaker.

The combination of long life (laser engine), essentially maintenance free operation, and an “affordable” price make the Sony very tempting, especially when you remember that it will hold brightness steady for a very long time, and also hold color accuracy for far longer than any lamp based projector.

Viewsonic Pro8530HDL

Viewsonic just loves to be the low price leader.  The single chip DLP Pro8530HDL with 1080p resolution certainly seems a contender, offering 5200 lumens at a list price of $2169 and a street price of $1799!  Placement flexibility is even a little better than average with a 1.6:1 zoom lens and a modest amount of vertical lens shift.

There’s no shortage of extras either.  Wired networking is built in. I love that it has four HDMI inputs!  One of them supports MHL for working with mobile devices.  One of them, is hidden.  Viewsonic calls that one PortAll.  It’s perfect for hiding Roku, Fire, and Chrome sticks and related.  Clever Viewsonic!

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The Viewsonic just topped it’s 5200 lumen claim.  The two best picture modes, however, are right around 50% of maximum brightness.  As with almost all projectors the brightest mode (aptly named Brightest) is over the top green heavy.  But Dynamic, which maxes out around 4500 lumens is a bit tamer and more than acceptable when you need to deal with a lot of ambient light.  Better still is Standard which tops 3800 lumens.

ViewMatch sRGB and Movie are the two best modes.  One unfortunate thing is that Viewsonic needs to improve their out of the box color a bit.  Even the best modes tended to be too warm overall.  This can be adjusted out, of course. There’s even a picture mode for DICOM simulation.  And 3D.

The three year warranty with first year replacement is very respectable.

Cost of operation is not a strength, unfortunately.  The Viewsonic Pro8530HDL shares honors with the BenQ SU931 for a lamp life claim at full power of only 2000 hours, and an expensive replacement lamp cost, to make things worse.

That said, it’s a good feature set and a lot of lumens for the lowest price of these five.  It should be considered particularly attractive in installations where usage is higher to moderate, to keep costs competitive.

Epson L Series laser projectors - This Year's Special Feature

The 12,000 lumen L1505 projector – with a hefty $21,999 list price but an education price under $14K is just too much projector to be considered a practical education projector.  OH there’s a museum or three “attached” to universities that just might need a projector this bright, but, that should be rare.   Since I reviewed that model Epson, I’ll take the space here to mention the lower cost L series projectors, which, had I reviewed one of them instead, would have been considered very suited for higher education and museum use, and would have competed for the awards.

The L series starts with a 6000 lumen projector that comes with a $5399 education price, with the standard zoom lens.  Epson offers a full array of lenses, and the projector can be bought without the standard lens.

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Certainly this entry model in the Epson laser line-up sells for more than any of the other projectors, and for almost double the Sony PHZ10.

But what’s really exciting about the L Series is that they are WUXGA resolution pixel shifting projectors, and they are 4K content capable (but not HDR).  The pixel shifting is a technique to double the number of pixels used to define the image, to improve sharpness and detail.

That makes the L series a premium product, relative to the less expensive large venue projectors above.  We’ve featured in previous education reports some projectors like Sony’s VPL-FHZ65 another laser projector with a similar feature set to the Epson L Series.

The L1100 and the other three L series under the L1505, all have education prices under $8500.  They are extremely capable projectors, including advanced features such as multi-projector projection mapping, and edge blending, along with advanced networking including Crestron RoomView support.

These Epson laser projectors are step products in price and capability and may be a good place for you to start looking if you need a laser engine, and interchangeable lenses, and or, edge blending.  The L1505 was truly an impressive monster.  I expect these less expensive models are similarly impressive if less powerful and less expensive.

Next up, if you stay sequential, is our look at the four UST and Interactive projectors in our next “class.”

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