The Sony VPL-PHZ50 is a WUXGA (1920 x 1200) laser projector boasting 5,000 lumens, but it came in at 5,588 lumens in its brightest mode, Brightness Priority. This projector is 30% smaller than its predecessor the VPL- while keeping all the features and performance.
The Sony Z-Phosphor laser light source used in this projector provides more than enough brightness to combat the ambient light likely to be found museums, churches, retail spaces, and decent-sized entertainment venues.
This Sony comes with four color presets out-of-the-box, but you don't need a lot of modes when the color color is of each preset quite good. One of the best things about all these modes is that all maintain a decent amount of displayed color even in the projectors brightest mode.
The bottom line is that brightness is plentiful. Almost every mode option serves up more than 2,000 lumens. And there are the full 5,000 lumens available if needed. The Brightness Priority mode is geared to handle ambient light. While this mode's color is not as natural as Standard mode, Brightness Priority mode produces more than an acceptable amount of color considering the environment's lighting limitations.
The Z-Phosphor laser light source is designed to last up to 20,000 hours at its brightest. The PHZ50 well-suited for environments with lots of ambient light. Also, there are almost no maintenance requirements for this estimated operating life.
The VPL-PHZ50 features a slim, stylish body with a flat-top surface that not only looks good but offers the practical value of allowing the projector to blend into almost any installation space when the projector is ceiling-mounted.
The Sony VPL-PHZ50 performance is perfect for commercial applications. The included intelligent settings offer presets designed to optimize brightness, the projector cooling system and other projector settings to suit a wide range of usage environments automatically controling the temperature of the installation environment, frequency of usage, and several other parameters to provide long-term stable operation.
Sony offers some automatic features and presets to add to the appeal of the VPL-PHZ50. In particular, automatic setup and APA (Auto Pixel Alignment) allow the projected screen phase, pitch, and shift to be automatically adjusted, saving setup time.
For many specialty applications, including 24/7 ones such as digital signage, the advantage of a laser light engine is enormous.
As far as the competition goes, there are quite a few projectors sporting a 5,000-lumens rating, with two offering virtually identical or additional features to the VPL-PHZ50. Also, some of the competing projectors are priced slightly lower than the VPL-PHZ50.
Panasonic sells the PT-VMZ40U projector with almost identical specs and a wireless option, priced $300 less than the Sony.
Also, the NEC PE506UL has an almost identical feature set with a wireless option and sells for $200 less than the VPL-PHZ50. Epson and BenQ also make projectors with similar brightness ratings and a smaller set of features for under $2,000 if the reduced color lumens of a DLP projector are acceptable to you.
So you can get a projector from other brands with one or two more features than the VPL-PHZ50 has and possibly save a few hundred dollars in the process, but I want to remind you of something I mentioned at the beginning of this review. Reliability. Obviously, no company can promise their product will last longer than a competitor's. Still, when you purchase a Sony professional projector, you are also buying Sony's long history of building high-performance and durable projectors. In addition, Sony offers a five-year warranty on the VPL-PHZ50, while NEC, BenQ, Panasonic, and Epson offer only three-year warranties.
The VPL-PHZ50 is a capable projector from a company with a proven track record of making reliable and competitively featured products. At $2,499 MSRP, it is missing a couple of features that can be found on some competitive projectors. These features include built-in or add-on wireless networking and USB media playback although this can be solved for under $50 by adding on any number of Smart HDMI devices available today. That being said, the VPL-PHZ50 does offer a bright 5,000 lumens picture and the ability to display content at up to 300 inches diagonally and backed by a Sony five-year warranty.
I think Sony's history of innovation and quality in the professional projection category carries real value when trying to decide between similarly featured and priced projectors from other brands.. If your commercial enterprise needs a new projector, I believe the VPL-PHZ50 is well worth serious and close consideration.
5,000 Lumens Claim – Measured 5,588 in its brightest mode
$2,499 List Price
Horizontal and Vertical Analog Lens Adjustments
WUXGA Resolution (1920 x 1200)
3LCD Technology – Has as many Color Lumens as White Lumens for more vibrant color
Laser Light Engine – Light Engine Life of Up to 20,000 Hours