Sony Laserlite VPL-PHZ10 Affordable Laser Projector – Hardware Tour

VPL-PHZ10 PROJECTOR REVIEW – HARDWARE:  Overview, Lens, Control Panel, Inputs and Connectors, Lens Throw Distances

As always we start our tour – in this case of Sony’s LaserLite VPL-PHZ10 – and the VPL-PWZ10 (which is identical but for price and resolution), from the front.

Also on the front – behind the glass, is the front IR sensor.   Not sure I like it there, as the range of the remote left something to be desired. More on that, in the section on the remote control.

There are screw thread adjustable front feet on the Sony, on the bottom located on far left, and far right.

VPL-PHZ10 Hardware Overview

That takes us next to the top of the projector. There’s a door (basically behind the lens) that slides forward to reveal the lens controls: Focus, Zoom, and both Vertical, and Horizontal lens shift. That’s it for the top of the projector.

Note: I found the lens shift controls to be a bit sloppy – moving one often resulted in slight shifting of the other (i.e. lowering the image might cause a slight shift to the side). The control also does not feel solid. The good news, Sony has already notified me (and other reviewers) that the lens shift controls will be tighter and better by the time the finished projectors ship. That folks is exactly the kind of thing that we expect to get fixed between an early engineering sample and a full production unit.   Sony has provided a list of perhps a dozen other changes that are coming to the finished units.

One side (the left if you are facing the projector), you’ll find Sony’s “mini’ control panel. All the inputs and connectors are located on the back of the VPL-PHZ10.

Sony VPL-PHZ10 Lens

The recessed, manual 1.45:1 zoom lens provides a good amount of placement flexibility. You’ll find it offset to the right side, and “hidden” behind a protective clear door. A reminder – many projectors in this brightness range are more money, even some lamp based ones, because when you get up to 5000 lumens, and larger venue capabilities, many of the projectors support interchanbeable lenses.

Sony-VPL-PHZ10_lens
A close-up of the recessed manual zoom lens on the VPL-PHZ10 projector

The lack of that feature is perhaps the biggest differentiator of the two LaserLite projectors from the rest of the Sony laser projectors. (In fairness, Sony also has 3 laser powered ultra-short throw projectors – (the least expensive being $25,000 – so not exactly competition – but UST projectors also (and obviously) don’t have interchangeable lenses.   Most lamp based (business and education) projectors (without interchangeable lenses), typically have zoom lenses with ranges from 1.2:1 to 1.6:1, so the Sony is pretty much in the middle of the pack.

Control Panel

Before I go through the various (and typical) buttons, an amusing note, again related to the early engineering sample aspect of the VPL-PHZ10 we received. Sony warned to be careful: The control panel electronic board can “be peeled off” due to impact. Sony provided instructions if that should happen, to open the case (with the power off, of course) and re-attach the board. I didn’t have to do that, as I had no problem with the Control Panel, but this gives you an idea of how early on this sample is.

Sony-VPL-PHZ10_control_panel
A close-up look at Sony’s control panel for the PHZ10. It is located on the side, near the back of the projector.

From the front of the projector (the right side in this image):  The Power switch.  Press once to power up, twice to power down.  Then comes the Input selector, and next to it is the Menu button.  That only leaves the navigation controls – up, down, left and right arrow buttons, with the Enter button in the center.

In other words its a basic, very standard type control panel.

Inputs and Connectors: The back of the VPL-PHZ10

This Sony has a pretty basic sent of inputs and connectors, so let’s take a look, from left to right:

First up is an RS232 serial port for traditional command and control. The LAN (network connector – an RJ45) is next. Note – the fit is tight, Sony advises that you can’t have one of those rubber type covers that fits over the plastic connector. That’s hardly a problem, but good “upfront” info to know. That may well be fixed in production units.

Sony-VPL-PHZ10_back_panel
Angled image of the VPL-PHZ10 back input panel and top door over lens controls

A pair of HDMIs comes next. A “miniature” BNC connector (for BNC over coaxial cable) is squeezed in next to the right HDMI input.

Note, if you are looking at the image, the final production units will have embossed labeling for the connectors, and the top will be a touch different with some lines added, compared to the sample I received.

Further to the right is the analog computer input (HD15 connector), which also supports component video. A “low resolution” NTSC video input is next (RCA jack). Then comes the audio out, with a stereo mini-jack input. The last two inputs are USB A and B. They are both USB 2.0.

A large light gray square is the rear IR sensor for the remote control, and a Kensington lock slot are also on the back as well as, of course, the all important power cord receptacle. That’s everything.

There is a single 16 watt speaker system.   Given this is a 5000 lumen projector, it’s typically destined for larger rooms, such as small auditoriums, hotel ballrooms, and large university classrooms. In such large rooms the 16 watts of sound (whether one or two speakers) just isn’t going to be enough to carry the room.  A 20 watt speaker system is about as much as any projector will have built in, so with 16 watts, this Sony is close to as powerful as one could expect.  In larger rooms the sound will probably be handled with an external sound system.  But, the VPL-PHZ10 laser projector will also end up in some smaller venues, and other applications, where the onboard speaker will be appreciated. Having an audio out to route the audio is good thinking on Sony’s part, and it would allow for easy interfacing to some powered speakers, or to wire into a rooms sound system, while allowing the remote control to adjust overall volume.

VPL-PHZ10 Lens Throw

Lens Throw for a 100″ Diagonal 16:10 Screen
Wide Angle on Lens (Closest) 9 feet, 0 inches
Telephoto on Lens (Furthest) 13 feet, 3 inches

These numbers are from Sony provided information.  We do not verify lens throw data from manufacturers as it is very rarely inaccurate.  Distance is measured from the front of the lens to the screen.

Current dealer prices for Sony VPL-PHZ10

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