Projector Reviews

Sony VPL-FH30 Projector – Physical Tour

Time for your tour of the Sony VPL-FH30 projector’s physical form, including layout, inputs, speaker, control panel, and remote control.

Sony VPL-FH30 Appearance

The VPL-FH30 has a clean, industrial design with white plastic case.  The design departs from the usual layout in that there are no user controls on the top of the projector (they’re on the left side) and all connections are on the front panel, rather than the rear.

Facing the front panel of the projector, the lens is mounted in the center, flanked by manual turning knobs for vertical and horizontal lens shift.  There is a ring around the lens for focus and a tabbed lever on one side of the lens for zoom.  Height adjustment can be made via two screw feet in each of the front corners.  There is an IR receiving eye for the remote to the left of the lens and indicators for power and lamp status on the top front edge.  All connections to the FH30 are made to a variety of jacks along the bottom of the front panel.  These connections are, from left to right: the power cord jack, LAN port, S-video and composite video inputs, RS-232 serial control port, wired remote connector and audio inputs that separately match up with the various video inputs.  There is a break in the panel as the bottom half of the lens separates the two sides of the panel.  Starting just right of the lens, we have: 5-BNC video input jacks, an RGB computer input, a DVI-D input, an HDMI input and an RGB monitor output.  Having all the connections along the bottom front edge is inconvenient for table mounting, but the FH30 is most likely to be ceiling mounted, where cables could easily run up into the ceiling and out of the way.

On the left side of the projector, we have a small control panel near the front and a large hot air exhaust port toward the rear.  The control panel includes a Power On/Off switch, an Input selector button, Menu and menu navigation buttons, Enter and a button to drop the lamp into Eco mode.  On the right side of the projector is a Kensington lock port, an antitheft lock bar and a large intake vent.

The rear of the projector is dedicated to easy access to the dust filter and lamp.  There are three screws along the bottom of the rear panel that, when removed, allow access to the filter on the left and the lamp on the right.  The filter pulls straight out from and can then be cleaned by vacuuming or replaced.  The dust filter can capture particles has a maximum 15000 hour life, but it’s recommended that the filter be replaced with the lamp.  There is also a second IR receiving eye for the remote on the rear panel.

The placement of the lamp and dust filter cover on the rear panel allows for easy access when the projector is ceiling mounted, without having to unmount it.

Sony VPL-FH30 Setup and Menus

Thanks to its two front adjustable feet and horizontal and vertical lens shift, the VPL-FH30 is easy to setup up in either table or ceiling mounting installations.  Although its design is geared toward ceiling installation, its relatively light weight and adjustment flexibility make it a candidate for a movable cart as well.  The multiple adjustment capability of the VPL-FH30 will usually make keystone correction unnecessary, but the VPL-FH30 offers keystone correction to electronically correct a misaligned image.  Ideally, you would not want to any keystone correction at all, as it can have a detrimental effect on the image quality, a real killer when you’re buying a WUXGA projector exactly for its sharp image.

Once you used the lens shift to line up the image with your screen (there’s a test pattern that can be displayed to assist in that), you can bring up the menu to select the desired Picture mode, as well as more advanced picture adjustments.  Choose one of the three available Picture modes, fine tune it with the usual Brightness, Contrast, Color, Hue and Sharpness adjustments and you’re ready to go.

For the advanced user, Sony has also added three custom color temperature modes in addition to three preset modes (Low, Middle and High).  The three custom modes start with each of the presets and allow adjustments to each.

Sony VPL-FH30 Menu Slideshow

Sony VPL-FH30 Remote Control

The FH30 has a basic, but well laid-out remote.  The remote is white with a combination of white and gray buttons, with the exception of the Power on/Standby buttons which are green (a good idea as they stand out and are not easily accidentally used).  The Power and input buttons are right on top, with separate buttons for each input.  The inputs are labeled with letters (A, B, C etc.) on the projector and duplicated on the remote, so you have to know in advance what input the letters correspond to.   It would be much simpler to label all the inputs properly (as the S-video and composite video inputs are for some reason).  Below the input buttons are the usual menu and navigation buttons.  There are additional buttons for digital zoom, audio volume, freeze and both audio and video muting.  One unfortunate aspect of the remote is that it is used with other models, so there are a number of buttons that do not function on the remote (lens shift and zoom, for example).  This can be confusing at first and a projector in this price range should have a dedicated remote.

Click Image to Enlarge

If the projector is mounted in a hidden location (with only the lens exposed), the remote has a jack on the bottom of it enabling it to be wired directly to the projector.  Another feature allows you to control more than one FH30 at a time independently from a single remote.  By turning on the “ID” slide switch on the side of the remote, you can switch the remote between three different projector IDs and have completely independent, full control of each projector.

The buttons are not backlit, but that is typical for presentation projectors.  In general, I found the buttons to be well laid out and spaced sufficiently to avoid hitting the wrong one, even in the dark.