Posted on October 15, 2019 By Scott Wilkinson
Small projectors are incredibly versatile tools. Not only do they provide the most cinematic experience in home theaters, they also serve up engaging images in corporate boardrooms, conference rooms, classrooms, museums, and entertainment venues.
Of course, different models serve different purposes, so you must select the right projector for the job. For example, the Sony VPL-FHZ75 is designed specifically for installation in business and educational settings, and it’s got a lot to offer in those environments.
The Sony VPL-FHZ75 measures roughly 20″ x 18″ x 7″ (LxWxH) and weighs in at about 34 pounds. That’s pretty hefty, so take care when mounting it on the ceiling. With the Lamp Mode at its Middle setting, the projector generates about 36 dB of noise, which is fairly quiet. The case’s simple, clean design should blend into just about any environment.
This is a 3LCD-based projector—that is, it utilizes three LCD panels, one each for the red, green, and blue portions of the image. The light source is a set of blue-laser diodes, some of which excite a yellow phosphor wheel whose light is then filtered into its red and green components. The blue light from the lasers and red and green light from the phosphor wheel are each directed to pass through the corresponding LCD panel, after which the three colors are combined and directed through the main lens.
Newly developed 0.76″ LCD panels are joined by a new optical compensator, which reduces light leakage and improves the black level. Each panel has a resolution of 1920×1200, aka WUXGA. Ideally, the pixels from each panel overlap on the screen perfectly, resulting in a full-color 1920×1200 image.
Lasers have exceptionally long operational lifespans; those in the FHZ75 are specified to last 20,000 hours, which greatly reduces maintenance needs. In addition, Sony claims that the projector’s brightness remains constant throughout the lasers’ lifespan.
Speaking of brightness, the FHZ75 claims a peak light output of 6500 lumens, which is more than enough for well-lit boardrooms or classrooms. Of course, the peak light output will undoubtedly decrease if you have it calibrated, but I bet it will still be quite high compared to home-theater projectors, which are designed for dark rooms. Sony also claims an infinite contrast ratio, because the lasers can be instantly modulated or even turned completely off. I always take brightness and contrast specs with a grain of salt, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the measured values were still impressive.
A function called Intelligent Setting greatly simplifies installation. It offers presets that automatically adjust brightness, color, cooling, and other parameters for optimal performance in a variety of environments, such as meeting rooms, classrooms, museums, entertainment venues, and multi-screen setups.
Interestingly, the projector automatically recalibrates itself every 500 hours of use. When the unit is powered off at that point, it displays several test patterns, and an internal RGB sensor is used to recalibrate grayscale, color, and gamma. I’d love to see something like that in consumer projectors!
The FHZ75 can accommodate a variety of available lenses, all of which provide powered focus, zoom, and lens shift, though there are no lens memories to store different settings. The supplied standard lens has a zoom ratio of approximately 1.6 and a throw ratio from 1.39:1 to 2.23:1. It also offers a wide lens-shift range (-5%/+70% vertical, ±32% horizontal), which provides great flexibility in placement. In addition, the projector provides horizontal and vertical keystone correction, but I strongly recommend against using them if possible, since they reduce visible detail in the image.
Sony’s Reality Creation video-processing technology is found in many of the company’s consumer and commercial display products, including the FHZ75. It uses a pattern-matching database to optimize upscaled images while minimizing induced noise. I’ve seen it in action many times, and it works quite effectively.
In some applications, multiple projectors are used to create a truly giant image. The FHZ75 offers seamless edge blending, which joins color-matched images from several projectors into one super-sized display.
All projectors have air filters that prevent dust from invading the interior, and this model is no exception. Even better, it automatically cleans the filter after every 100 hours of use by knocking the filter to dislodge dust into an integrated absorber.
The FHZ75 is fully compatible with the leading control, monitoring, and management systems, such as Crestron Connected and Extron XTP Systems. This allows users to easily integrate the projector into their existing system, which is especially important if it’s placed in a relatively inaccessible location, such as a high ceiling.
The FHZ75 provides a plethora of inputs, including one HDMI (Sony does not disclose the version number) and one DVI, both of which support HDCP copy protection. There’s also a D-Sub 15 VGA input with a 3.5mm analog-audio input as well as an HDBaseT RJ45 connector, which handles video, audio, control, and networking. Finally, there’s a BNC composite-video input that shares the VGA’s audio input.
Two monitor outputs include a D-Sub 15 and DVI (no HDCP). Each of these outputs mirrors the corresponding input.
The remaining connectors include an Ethernet port, RS-232C port, and Control S connector. Any of these connections can be used to control the projector. (Control S is a Sony-specific protocol.)
In addition to being compatible with many integrated-control systems, the FHZ75 comes with an IR remote. It’s a fairly standard design, with direct-selection buttons for the inputs and several functions, such as focus, zoom, and lens shift. It also has a slider that lets you select one of up to four projectors to control individually, which is essential in a multi-projector setup.
The Sony VPL-FHZ75 seems to be a highly capable business/education projector with a lot to recommend it. In particular, the laser light source will last tens of thousands of hours, and its high brightness makes the projector well-suited for environments with lots of ambient light. Also, there’s no need to replace lamps, reducing maintenance requirements.
Several automatic features add to its appeal. In particular, automatic setup, calibration, and filter cleaning go a long way toward minimizing setup and maintenance time. Finally, sophisticated and well-established upscaling ensures a sharp, crisp image.
Naturally, all this capability doesn’t come cheap. The MSRP is $11,000, though the street price is closer to the $6000 range. That’s not inexpensive, but it is very competitive for such a feature-laden, laser-illuminated commercial projector. If your commercial enterprise needs a new projector, the VPL-FHZ75 seems well worth serious consideration.
We will be posting a full review of the Sony VPL-FHZ75 in November, so stay tuned for that!
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