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Sony VPL-FHZ85 Commercial Interchangeable Lens 3LCD Projector Review - Hardware

Posted on March 1, 2022 by Philip Boyle


When it comes to greater installation flexibility, we have to talk about the compact form factor and weight of the VPL-FHZ85. This projector is the smallest, lightest 3LCD projector in its class while displaying exceptional brightness. The VPL-FHZ85's form factor also works well for various installation environments.

The FHZ85 features a slim, stylish body with a flat-top surface. This minimalist design not only looks good but offers the practical value of allowing the projector to fit unobtrusively into almost any installation space where it is ceiling-mounted. 


Sony designed and built BrightEra LCD panels

Sony is one of very few companies in the world to design and manufacture its own microdisplays, including the BrightEra panel shown here.

In today's projection market, there are many projector brands. One thing that sets Sony apart from most other brands is that they manufacture the LCD panels at the heart of their projectors. And that makes all the difference. This expertise gives Sony a strategic advantage. Sony's proprietary BrightEra LCD panel addresses three specific weaknesses of traditional LCD panels. Those weaknesses are brightness limitations, heat, and damage caused by bright light. 

The Sony BrightEra™ microdisplays substantially reduce interpixel gaps on the sensor resulting in dramatic increases in projector brightness and resolution.

Sony BrightEra LCDs feature a chemically stronger liquid crystal formulation, than previous versions, that resists degradation from exposure to a projector's high temperatures. 

BrightEra™ microdisplays incorporate a refined inorganic alignment layer that resists the process of photolysis—molecular breakdown in bright light.

Sony BrightEra LCD panels are built to take the heat up to the 20,000-hour operating life of the Z-Phosphor™ laser light source. BrightEra LCDs provide superb energy efficiency by design because inter-pixel gaps block less light. This results in high light output per watt of electricity input and resisting LCD material breakdown caused by photolysis, improving reliability and reducing the total cost of ownership across the projector's life.


A wide range of optional lenses provides installation flexibility

In addition to the standard supplied lens, there are seven fixed and variable lens options to suit virtually any room size or throw requirement. Furthermore, depending on the lens chosen, the VPL-FHZ85 offers a class-leading vertical +70% lens-shift adjustment range, further increasing placement flexibility.

The projector's quick-release bayonet mount makes it easy to switch lenses. Press the button and rotate counterclockwise. To install a different (or the same) lens, insert it into the bayonet mount and turn clockwise until it clicks. The VPL-FHZ85 uses the same lenses as predecessor models, so you won't have to buy new lenses if you are upgrading or replacing an older model.


A wide range of inputs and connectors for every installation need

The VPL-FHZ85 has a healthy amount of inputs for business and education applications and good connectivity. The inputs and connectors panel is on the right side of the projector when looking at the lens. The projector is meant to be ceiling-mounted, so all the text is upside down. I have inverted it in the picture below to make it easy to read.


No scaling or conversion needed.

In some boardrooms, you may have 4K flat-panel TVs on the wall and an HD projector installed in the ceiling. In these cases, the source might "dumb down" the resolution to match the lowest resolution display causing a real headache. Solving this issue could require a costly external scaling solution. Although the VPL-FHZ85 is a WUXGA (1920 x 1200) projector, it offers a 4K 60P input to simplify integration with 4K flat-panel TVs. To drive all your displays, just split the 4K signal for supreme ease of operation, with no scaling or conversion needed.

This feature is an upgrade from the VPL-PHZ50 that I just reviewed and it's almost identical twin, the VPL-PHZ60.


One connection does so much

HDBaseT is a simple and cost-effect solution for transmitting video, audio, and networking/control over a single Ethernet cable. HDBaseT lets you run HDMI distances of up to 100 meters (about 328 feet) over a low-cost CAT5e/CAT6 wire. While the support is built into the projectors, you will need the optional transmitter to implement it. The cost savings of using HDBaseT can be significant, making it a very compelling feature for many installations.


Full control without a remote

The control panel on the VPL-FHZ85 is located on the projector's left side when looking from the front. The panel is made up of eight controls in two rows. The first button on the top row is navigation. It consists of an Enter button that toggles left, right, up, and down to navigate the menus. Next to that is the Menu button, the Input button, and one for Power. Below that, in the second row of the control panel, are the buttons that control the motorized lens functions. These are Shift, Zoom, and Focus, which will likely be used only when setting up the projector. To the right of the previous three, the final button is ECO Mode.

My only issue with this control panel is the button design and layout. There is very little that differentiates each button when operating by feel. I prefer a design where critical buttons allow you a remote chance of recognizing them by touch.

I can't see how this would make an installer's job easier or faster if the need to operate the projector without the remote came up.


The Sony VPL-FHZ85 has a remote control that is well laid out, though I do think it is time for Sony to update the remote to include backlit buttons.

The first section of the remote consists of two green buttons – Standby, or Off, on the left, and On, on the right. Below that is a section consisting of eight input buttons, one for each input, all of which have letters assigned to them.


B = DVI-D In/Out


D = HDBaseT

The next section below is all about navigating the menus.

Below that, we have the Focus, Zoom, and Lens Shift buttons, followed by the Position, Keystone, and Pattern buttons underneath. The next section consists of the Digital Zoom +/-, which punches in and out of the projected image, like zooming in on your computer. Next to that are the Aspect and APA buttons, next to the Volume +/- buttons. The bottom section has a Freeze button, a Blank button and a Muting button.

Finally there is a four position selection switch labled ID Mode.


Sony uses a common menu system across its entire lineup of home theater projectors. While Sony has not changed the look and feel of their menus in years, they do add extra menu items to control any new features and capabilities as needed. See my photos below.

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