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SONY VPL-PHZ50 WUXGA 3LCD Projector Review

Posted on February 21, 2022 by Philip Boyle

The VPL-PHZ50 is a 5,000 lumens (5,400 lumens center) 3LCD installation-class projector that sells for $2,499.

Just over a year ago, Sony Electronics' professional division introduced a new mid-tier projector model, the Sony VPL-PHZ50 as a direct successor to the very successful Sony VPL-PHZ12. Sony managed to reduced the chassis size almost 30 percent making the optical engine smaller without any reduction in color accuracy and contrast The Sony VPL-PHZ50 is an installation-class projector designed for small to medium-sized venues. This projector offers a very bright light output perfectly suited for conference rooms or lecture halls. The VPL-PHZ50 is a WUXGA (1920 × 1200) pixel projector. According to Sony, this projector is built upon two major pillars. The first is Sony's legacy of building quality and long-lasting projectors, which I'll talk about in more detail below. The second is Sony's choice of features built into the VPL-PHZ50. 

I'll be asking and answering: Did Sony pick the right features for the VPL-PHZ50, and how do these features perform?

The VPL-PHZ50 is a 5,000 lumens (5,400 lumens center) installation-class projector. The VPL-PHZ50 is less than four inches high and weighs approximately 15 pounds, appearing ideal for a wide range of professional applications.You can be sure I will be getting into it later in the review. According to Sony, the VPL-PHZ50 was the industry's smallest WUXGA 3LCD laser projector in its lumen class at the time of its introduction. Its small size is a valuable feature in this projector class. However, in the competition section of this review, I'll be looking at some current competitors offering projectors that have similar features and prices.

With a wide range of lens shift and intelligent settings, the VPL-PHZ50 is optimized for use in small to medium-sized conference rooms and classrooms. It is also designed for entertainment applications like golf simulators.

The VPL-PHZ50 features Sony's proprietary image enhancement technology designed to get the most out of the projector's three LCD panels and its laser light source. The comprehensive list of features and technologies that come at a very affordable $2,499 suggested price is even more impressive.

I will start with a brief overview of the VPL-PHZ50, followed by some of the projector's notable features. From there, I'll take you through the VPL-PHZ50's hardware and discuss picture quality and performance before summing it all up for you on the last page. My goal is to cover everything you need to decide if the Sony VPL-PHZ50 is the right projector for your installation needs by the time you reach the end of this review. 

Sony Specs
Technology 3LCD
Native Resolution 1920 x 1200
Brightness (Manufacturer Claim) 5000
Contrast ∞:1
Zoom Lens Ratio
Lens Shift No
Lamp Life


The Sony VPL-PHZ50 is a 5,000 lumens, WUXGA resolution (1920 x 1200) projector, going for a remarkable $2,499 considering that just a few years ago, a projector like this one would have sold for about twice as much. The VPL-PHZ50 has a laser light engine coupled with a Sony 3LCD imaging system that offers a legacy of proven quality and performance. 

Sony 3LCD projectors have some real advantages over competitors like DLP projectors, such as having a dedicated LCD panel (one each for red, green, and blue) to emit the entire range of the color spectrum.

Unlike competitively priced DLP projectors, 3LCD projectors produce as many color lumens as they do white lumens. In contrast, DLP projectors produce fewer color lumens than white lumens, so color performance is diminished

The Sony VPL-PHZ50's color lumens will be just as bright and vibrant as the projector's white lumens and look better in a well-lit room. Even with an uncontrolled ambient light source, you should still expect decent color performance from this projector compared with a similarly priced DLP.

Finally, 3LCD projectors never suffer from DLP's Rainbow Effect, which looks like rainbows appearing across the displayed image. Even with improvements in DLP technology, about 5% of the population, including myself, can still see the effect.

Sony Exclusive BrightEra LCD Panel

The VPL-PHZ50 laser light engine is designed to last up to 20,000 hours. That translates to about ten years of use. Even though we are seeing an increase in the use of  laser light sources in DLP projectors, Sony projectors still offer advantages. Sony's exclusive Z-Phosphor™ laser light source allows the VPL-PHZ50 to start up in seconds and shut down just as quickly, saving both time and energy.

There are still many lamp-based projectors on the market that lose some of their brightness and have a shift in color within the first several thousand hours of use. Sony's BrightEra™ 3LCD panels work with Sony's original Z-Phosphor™ laser light source to deliver clarity, great color reproduction, and smooth gradation. Lasers will lose brightness and shift color slowly over their lifetime, unlike lamp-based projectors. By the time you get near the 20,000 hours of operation, the VPL-PHZ50 will offer far better performance than a lamp-based projector could ever provide.

The Sony VPL-PHZ50 is equipped with Intelligent Setting presets, which automatically control temperature based on the installation environment, frequency of use, and several other parameters for long-term, stable operation.

The VPL-PHZ50 is designed to fit into almost any space by blending into the background of conference rooms, museums, and other sophisticated locations. Sony has created a functional, aesthetically-pleasing product that is durable, easy to set up, and easy to use. Sony Pro has been a leader in professional/educational projectors for decades. While Sony Professional offers a wide variety of large display options, including flat panels and direct LED, there are many applications where projectors are still the best option. To learn more, check out our article titled: "Why Many Video Enthusiasts Still Choose Projectors." 

Let's look into the Sony VPL-PHZ50 in more detail.

  • 3LCD imaging system with optical compensator
  • 1920×1200 resolution
  • Laser illumination with 20,000-hour lifespan
  • 5,000 lumens light output
  • flexible setup
  • 4K 30p Input Resolution
  • Manual focus, zoom, and lens shift with wide ranges
  • Network control and monitoring
  • Consistent brightness throughout laser lifespan
  • Sealed laser light source
  • Smallest 5,000 lumen projector in its class

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