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Sony Laserlite VPL-PHZ10 Affordable Laser Projector - Picture Quality

Posted on April 13, 2017 by Art Feierman

VPL-PHZ10 AFFORDABLE LASER PROJECTOR - PICTURE QUALITY: Overview, Picture Modes, Contrast and Black Levels

There are a few advantages to laser projectors over lamp based projectors, that affect the picture quality. The obvious advantage is that brightness dims slower, and colors shift over far longer period of time. In other words, it might take a couple of years to have as much color shift as a lamp projector might have after just a few months of use at the same level of usage. That can have real advantages for a number of applications. Sure consistent color for presentations is good, but for digital signage applications it can be important. Certainly there’s no downside to having better color more consistently.

Then there’s the issue of superior color range. That is, the laser engines typically have a wider color gamut which can provide more pop and make a 5000 lumen laser projector seem a bit brighter and more vivid than an otherwise identical lamp powered projector.

Picture Quality Overview

Because this VPL-PHZ10 is a very early engineering sample (received 4-5 months before production units ship), Sony’s provided “reviewer notes” pointed out that “picture settings and quality may change when mass production units ship.” In other words, the image player above shows the same image in the different modes without adjustment. In the final versions, those are likely to have color that is slightly shifted, and, of course, be more accurate.

That said, none of the modes was disappointing. Of course, the brightest was not as good as the others, but that’s basically a universal constant when it comes to projectors (or LCD monitors and LCD TVs. In the better modes skin tones (always a good test of overall color) looked pretty good to great - depending on the mode - and will only get better.

I would describe colors as rich and well saturated, but mostly they really had a lot of pop viewed on my 100” screen, even with moderate ambient light.  That may be part of the "laser" advantage previously mentioned.

Picture Modes

Interestingly, Dynamic, which is on most projectors, the label used for the brightest mode (and one will the least great color), Sony reserves those characteristics for Presentation mode which I'll call the "brightest" mode.  Dynamic and Standard are two "best modes" and not that different, in color or brightness, although Dynamic is about 15% brighter than Standard.  The three images above were taken with the same exposure in order to also show you the relative difference in brightness.  For that reason, the "best" modes are a bit darker than Presentation mode.

Presentation mode has the major characteristic of a projector's brightest mode - a bit too much  yellow and green overall.  In the images above, you can compare the three modes, both on skin tones, and also by looking at the color pie charts and color bars.

VPL-PHZ10 Contrast and Black Level Performance

The PHZ10 claims a 500,000 contrast ratio, but that’s really more about the ability to do a black frame – if there is an all black image (frame) the laser engine turns off, delivering true black. When viewing normal content however the PHZ10 exhibits pretty respectable contrast and blacks for a commercial projector, but no match at all when compared to a good home theater projector.


Blacks come out medium dark gray. That's typical for 3LCD commercial projectors. DLPs do better in this regard.  (Photo of Lady GaGa at Super Bowl, drones in the background)

That said, when viewing videos for business or education, perfection in picture is normally secondary to sufficient brightness.  And don't forget, any ambient light wipes out much of the difference between projectors with great, and "OK" contrast and black levels.  Think this way:  In the typical environment this Sony laser projector is likely to find itself, having home theater quality black level performance, isn't normally isn't something looked for or needed.

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