Posted on September 28, 2018 By Nikki Zelinger
Sony VPL-FHZ61 Commercial Laser Projector Review – Summary: Summary, The Competition, Pros, Cons
The front of the Sony VPL-FHZ61 houses the 1.60:1 zoom lens and two indicator lights.
The right side of the Sony VPL-FHZ61 has the inputs and connectors panel and access to the self-cleaning filter.
The back of the Sony VPL-FHZ61 has the hot air exhaust vent.
The Sony VPL-FHZ61 is a WUXGA (1920×1200) laser projector boasting 5,100 lumens, but came in under claim at 4,325 lumens in its brightest mode, Brightness Priority. Still, this is quite enough to combat ambient light found in higher education classrooms and lecture halls, conference and boardrooms, museums, houses of worship, medical training, retail spaces, and even smaller entertainment venues. This is a 3LCD projector, which, coupled with the laser light engine, is a winning pair. This $9,000 commercial projector has an incredibly bright and vibrant image with excellent color, and a whole host of awesome features.
The VPL-FHZ61 has plenty of special features to go around, including motorized lens functions: focus, zoom, and lens shift. The motorized lens functions are some of the smoothest I’ve come across – smoother even than my own home theater projector. It’s astoundingly easy to get the position, zoom, and focus right the first time with minimal to no correction necessary. Adding to the placement flexibility given by lens shift, the Sony has interchangeable lens options and HDBaseT, allowing AV signal to be few over long distances via a low-cost CAT6 cable. It also offers low maintenance, advanced projection features such as Image Warping and Edge Blending, and advanced picture refinement technologies found on Sony’s home theater projectors.
The Sony VPL-FHZ61 has all of the inputs and connectors necessary for most business and education applications. It has an RS-232C serial port for old school command and control, followed by RGB/YPBPR input and output connectors, and DVI-D input and output ports on the top row of the panel. On the second row, we have a Control S port, a LAN RJ-45 connector, an Audio In and Audio Out input, a CVBS connector, a single HDMI, and an HDBaseT port. The remote control is well laid out and functions well, though I do wish the inputs were labeled with their names rather than letters assigned to them.
A scene from Journey to Space, projected by the Sony VPL-FHZ61.
The SpaceX website, projected by the Sony VPL-FHZ61.
The Boeing website, projected by the Sony VPL-FHZ61.
A PowerPoint presentation, projected by the Sony VPL-FHZ61.
A presentation slide, projected by the Sony VPL-FHZ61.
An infographic, projected by the Sony VPL-FHZ61.
A scene from Explained, projected by the Sony VPL-FHZ61.
This Sony has only four color modes, but the color is quite excellent in each, and they all offer enough variance in brightness that I hardly feel like more are necessary. These modes are: Dynamic, Standard, Brightness Priority, and Multi Screen. Brightness Priority is aptly named, as it is the brightest mode of the projector, measuring at 4,325 lumens. It leans a bit toward the yellow/green side of the spectrum, but does a better job with its color than most bright modes I’ve seen. Dynamic is the next brightest mode, at 2,924 lumens, and has excellent color. It is very similar to the color of Standard, but with a slightly bluer tint (Standard is warmer). Standard measured at 1,896 lumens. The final mode, Multi Screen, has a magenta hue and came in at 2,906 lumens.
The NEC NP-PA653UL closely competes with the Sony VPL-FHZ61, with its WUXGA resolution (1920 x 1200), interchangeable lens options, motorized lens functions, laser light engine with a 20,000 lifespan, and 3LCD technology. The PA653UL is brighter, claiming 6,500 lumens, but measured at 6,156 lumens in its brightest mode – that’s just below 2,000 lumens more than the VPL-FHZ61. Besides the difference in brightness, the feature sets of each projector vary, and will be the deciding factor on whether or not one projector is right for you over the other – unless you really do need that extra 1,831 lumens. That, and the street price of the NEC is a couple thousand lower than the Sony’s MSRP, and I couldn’t find a street price for this projector.
The NEC NP-PA653UL won our Best in Class Performance Award for the Large Venue Projector category in this year’s Best in Classroom Education Projector Report (published last spring), and can accept 4K content. Now, it’s not native 4K, but rather, a pixel shifter, meaning it takes that 1920 x 1200 image, copies it and shifts it up diagonally to create a higher pixel count. Though that pixel shifting will make the NEC NP-PA653UL a tad sharper than the Sony VPL-FHZ61, unless your applications require the projector to accept 4K content, this may not be a feature you need. If your commercial applications require a higher resolution, perhaps check out the review of this NEC before making any decisions.
Another projector that I would position as competition to the Sony VPL-FHZ61 is the recently-reviewed Panasonic PT-MZ670U. Also with WUXGA resolution, a laser light engine, and 3LCD technology, this Panasonic blows the Sony out of the water in terms for brightness. It claimed 6,500 lumens and came in just a smidge over claim. It, too, has some great features, and excellent placement flexibility. Its MSRP is $11,999, but also has a similar street price to the NEC.
This Sony did have better color than either of those two projectors – I would rank them in this order: Sony VPL-FHZ61, NEC NP-PA653UL, Panasonic PT-MZ670U. Check out these other reviews if they sparked any interest for you – otherwise, consider the Sony VPL-FHZ61 to be a great commercial projector, if you found the feature set suitable to your business or education applications!
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