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Sony VPL-PHZ10 Laser Projector Review - Special Features

Posted on April 13, 2017 by Art Feierman

VPL-PHZ10 Laser Light Engine

Laser light engines are no longer rare, and with these Sonys, no long extremely expensive. The technology Sony uses is typical. That is it relies on lasers hitting phosphors to create the colors. Pure laser projectors are rare (no phosphors) typically super expensive, but there have also been a few “experiments with lasers in pico projectors. We’ve reviewed a couple of those including a Sony last year, and an AAXA a few years back.

The major strengths of a laser light engine are pretty numerous, although some of them apply mostly to special applications.

The most universal benefit compared to lamp projectors is, of course,– no lamps to change. That not only saves on the cost of the additional lamps, but also, (and at least as expensive), the cost of people; ordering, then receiving the lamp, changing out the lamp in the projector and resetting the projector.

In addition, laser projectors hold color with little shifting over years of use, instead of months of use with lamp projectors. And of course for most users, these projectors most likely will be obsolete by the time they get close to 20,000 hour rating on their laser engine.  Sony's self cleaning filter also means no scheduled maintenance!

Panel Alignment

Panel Alignment isn’t that “special” a feature anymore now that a number of over $2000 3 panel (3 chip) LCD and LCoS projectors are offering a panel alignment option to help offset the native sharpness advantage of single chip DLP projectors – which don’t have to align red green and blue panels, since they have but one DLP chip. This is really a digital correction so don’t expect perfection, but as we have confirmed - playing with panel alignment on more than a dozen projectors including other Sonys – it helps “clean up” the image and makes it look a touch sharper.  Alignment was decent, but not great. Sony advises that production units' quality control will result in much tighter alignments.


VPL-PHZ10 Lens Shift

This Sony has a hefty amount of lens shift.  Certainly more than most of the lamp based projectors it will compete against.  What is a bit uncommon is that it offers unequal vertical lens shift.  Normally when you have a lot of lens shift there's an equal amount of range above, and below the center point (the center point would be having the lens even with the center of the screen vertically.

From a practical standpoint there's little downside.  The overall vertical range is 20 - 55%  Horizontal shift is -10 - 10%.  Once Sony releases the manual, our goal is to drop the expected lens shift chart into this section.

With projectors that have a lot of vertical shift, but both equal - say 55%, the projector, whether inverted (ceiling mounted) or right-side up, will normally be placeable in a continuous range from the projector being slightly above the top of the screen to slightly below the bottom.  Because of the unequal, placement options would not be continuous.  For example on a table top, the projector should place from well below the bottom of the screen to slightly above the bottom.

Self Cleaning Filter

3LCD projectors have filters. Filters need to be cleaned or changed, but having to regularly service a filter sort of defeats one of the big advantages of a laser projector – low/no maintenance.   No problem. Sony’s filter in the VPL-PHZ10 (and PWZ10) is self cleaning – every 100 hours. My understanding is that is all it takes. No need to change or service the filter during the life of the projector.

HDBaseT aka HDBT

HDBaseT solves the long known - and most aggravating problem of HDMI.  HDMI is now pretty much the standard for presenting data and video content.

The problem with traditional HDMI cabling relates to running long distances. Once you get out past 10-25 feet, you need some very good, vrery expensive cables to go much further – say 30 feet or maybe 12 meters. So, what to do if you need longer? HDBaseT is ususally the ticket. It allows HDMI – and also command and control, and audio that are normally carried by an HDMI cable, to instead travel over low cost CAT5 or CAT6 (Ethernet) cables. The trick is to have amplification on the sending end and then converting back to regular HDMI on the receiving end. In this case, the Sony, of course, is the receiver. It’s LAN port (RJ45 jack) supports HDBaseT, so all you need is a source with HDBaseT built in, or a small, not overly expensive converter that you would hook up to the HDMI output of the source.

With HDBaseT, you can run 100 meters – more than a football field – without problems. There are a number projectors in this Sony’s brightness range (5000 lumens and up) with HDBaseT built in, so it’s not rare, but nor is it a feature you can assume will be there. in a projector in this Sony's price range!

Bottom line – HDBaseT simplifies inputs, if you are dealing with more than normal run of less than, say 25 feet. Considering this is a 5000 lumen projector – it’s destined for medium to large rooms, from conference rooms, to university classrooms to small auditoriums and multi-purpose rooms. As such, many future “homes” for this Sony are likely to require longer cabling. HDBaseT also has the benefit of carrying not just the video signal, but also audio, and command and control information.

360 Degree Operation

The ability to mount a projector on any angle, is another benefit of solid state projectors. This Sony VPL-PHZ10 can be mounted traditionally (horizontally), or vertically, or, really anywhere in the middle.

Mounting angle flexibility finds a lot of use in digital signage, and some presentations.

Off angle mounting is very common in edge blending and projection mapping applications too.  Off angle operation is something that lamp based projectors normally can’t do. Oh, some lamp based projectors will work on certain limited angles, but for the ability to work on almost any angle, there's nothing like a good laser projector.

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