Posted on September 28, 2018 By Nikki Zelinger
Sony VPL-FHZ61 Commercial Laser Projector Review – Special Features: Low Maintenance, Excellent Placement Flexibility, Advanced Picture Refinement Technologies, Advanced Projection Features
The Sony VPL-FHZ61 is a low maintenance projector, meaning that you will not have to constantly change lamps and filters over the projector’s lifetime. This is due to the projector having a laser light engine. As mentioned, lamp based projectors require the lamp to be replaced several times over its lifetime – every 3,000 to 8,000 hours, depending, and lose their brightness over several hundred hours rather than a laser light engine’s several thousand.
This particular light engine lasts up to 20,000 hours, which is typical of laser projectors. Some claim up to 30,000 hours, but 20,000 seems to be the average. While typical laser projectors will lose half their brightness by the end of that 20,000 hours, Sony has implemented a feature they call “Constant Bright,” which they claim maintains the brightness over the course of its 20,000 hours. Like I said, I have no way to test, but I would leave it to Sony to create something cool like that.
The filter in the VPL-FHZ61 is self-cleaning, and does so every 100 hours. This is the first of its kind I’ve come across – that isn’t to say other manufacturers aren’t using or at least working on the same technology, but it’s the first of the commercial projectors I’ve reviewed to be self-cleaning. That’s a cool feature. Most laser projectors will not need the filter replaced for up to 20,000 hours (unless the environment is incredible dusty – not common), and this Sony is no exception.
The FHZ61 has excellent placement flexibility due to multiple features. The first of which is that the projector has a quick-release, bayonet mount for interchangeable lenses, of which there are six total. The included lens is a 1.60:1 zoom, which offers some good placement flexibility in and of itself. Add to that its motorized lens functions, and you’ve got some real value. The lens has motorized focus, zoom, and lens shift – it can do +5%, -60% vertical, and ±32% horizontal.
The projector also has 360° installation, meaning the projector can be mounted whichever way you like. Want your projected image to be portrait-style (1200 x 1920)? No problem. This is valuable for installations in retail and other such venues where a little creativity is in order. The Sony VPL-FHZ61 has HDBaseT, another win in the realm of placement flexibility, as this feature allows AV signals to be run over long distances, so that your source material doesn’t need to be anywhere near the projector – a major plus for larger venues!
The Sony VPL-FHZ61 has advanced picture refinement technologies found on Sony’s high end home theater projectors. Reality Creation uses a pattern-matching database to optimize each pixel, so you can be sure that you are getting the absolute sharpest image the projector is capable of producing.
Contrast Enhancer improves contrast by refining dark and light areas within the projected image, adjusting highlights for maximum brightness and shadows for deep, rich blacks. More about that feature in action in the Contrast section on our Performance Page. The final picture refinement technology is Auto Calibration, a feature which re-calibrates the projector’s picture to factory settings after an extended period of time, effectively taking care of the color shift problem found on all projectors after they’ve been running for a very long time.
First, I’d like to mention that the VPL-FHZ61 can project an incredibly large image – up to 600” diagonal. That’s awesome for larger venues such as lecture halls, auditoriums, houses of worship, and smaller entertainment venues, where a large image is a must. Keep in mind, though, that the bigger the image, the less those 5,100 lumens will stretch. That is to say, if you want a 600” image, you better have some great control over your ambient light.
The advanced projector features of this Sony are called Image Warping and Edge Blending. With Image Warping, you can project the image onto convex or concave surfaces and use geometric correction to create a natural-looking image, even though the surface is not flat. This is done via the Corner and Edge Correction in the menu.
Edge Blending is another beast entirely. This advanced feature allows two or more FHZ61’s to project a wide, seamless image spanning across several screens. It does so by blending the edges of each projection so that none exists – a feature that will be useful for some business applications in museums, entertainment venues, retail, and for other commercial applications.
Side-by-Side Image allows the projector to split the screen into two images, which is useful for conference calls in boardrooms and conference rooms. That’s a feature found on many a business and education projector, but not all, so it’s worth the mention.
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