Sony VPL-FHZ65 laser projector review

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posted on Thursday, 7th April 2016 by Steve May

projectors  Commercial  Sony 

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The migration from UHP lamps to laser light source projectors continues apace with Sony’s newest professional AV/IT mid-brightness models. The VPL-FHZ65 featured here is one of two new 3LCD data projectors that use the latest iteration of the brand’s Z-Phosphor laser light source (it’s joined by the VPL-FHZ60). The pair follow the 4000 lumens VPL-FHZ55 and the 7000 lumen VPL-FHZ700L. The FHZ65 is intended for business, education and mid-sized venue use. We took delivery of a flight-cased review unit, and put it through its paces.

Sony VPL-FHZ65 laser projector: Build quality and features
With distinctive rounded edges and inputs ranged along the left hand side, this new model looks clean and contemporary. The lens is centered, with the air intake to the left, venting out the right hand side.

Connectivity is extensive. There are single inputs for RGB mini D-Sub, DVI-D, HDMI and composite video; augmented by DVI-D and RGB outputs and Ethernet LAN. Control includes RS232 and Control S; integrators will be able to utilise it within Crestron and AMX environments. There’s also HDBaseT support, which enables a single CAT cable to carry video, audio and control up to 100m. It’s probably worth noting that the HDMI inputs do not support CEC.

There's an IR receiver option for Front, Rear or Both. Dig around in the menus and you can also optimise for short and long HDMI cable lengths. In addition to the non-backlit IR remote, there’s a smattering of on-body controls including Zoom and Lens Shift adjustment. Auto Pixel alignment gets the clearest picture from the RGB input. It’s possible to project two sources, as a main and sub picture, at the same time.

Flight Case

Remote (2)

Initial set up is fuss free. A generous horizontal lens shift, with both powered zoom and focus, plus an integrated test pattern, means it takes no time at all to get things looking nice and crispy. As you’d expect, the projector can be used forward facing or with image flipped, as required. There’s also a Screen Fitting adjustment for warping.and constant brightness mode, which runs the projector with a 25 per cent light output.

The laser light source means the projector reaches full brightness when powered up a good deal faster than lamp rivals, while Power Off is quick and dramatic. There’s also quick reboot mode, if the projector needs be used during a preset time of 10 minutes or 30 minutes after turning off the projector. Typically this would be useful during meetings, when there are breaks between presentations or classes.

Its advanced feature set supports edge-blending for a multiple projector install, and warping. And as the light source is solid state, you can get away with some unusual projector tilting, which could prove helpful in more awkward venues (such as places of worship or museums).

At 23dB, operational noise seems relatively low for this class of light cannon.

Sony VPL-FHZ65 laser projector: Performance
The FVH65 immediately impresses with its clarity and brightness. This projector has no problem at all with moderate ambient light. A WUXGA (1920 x 1200 pixel) resolution model, it can pump out an impressive 6000 lumens in Dynamic mode.

It doesn’t take much effort to unleash a really pleasing, vibrant image straight from the box. Picture modes comprise Dynamic, Standard, Brightness Priority or Multi-Screen. In addition to all the usual top line parameters, such as contrast, brightness and colour, you can also alter light settings for Dynamic Control, or change the Light Output Mode from Standard to High, Extended or Custom.

Connections

DVI

Delve into the Expert Settings and you’ll find some familiar technology at play here from the brand’s home entertainment range. Detail boosting Reality Creation is supported by the brand’s Contrast Enhancer, variable between Low, Middle and High.

Reality Creation works particularly well, bringing extra snap and depth to images. Despite there being no implementation of Sony's MotionFlow technology, motion handling is good. Pans are largely (not completely) judder free and motion artefacts are absent.

Contrast is rated at 10,000:1, but while the FVH65 does a fine job with 1080p content, this isn't a home theatre proposition. It can’t do a decent black and shadow detail is limited.

The projector boasts so-called BrightEra panel technology along with extensive colour space adjustments, although I couldn’t stop reds from looking decidedly orangey. Colour consistency over the life of the projector should theoretically be better than a regular lamp.

HDBaseT

Contrast

Sony VPL-FHZ65 laser projector: Verdict
Laser makes a lot of sense for commercial AV. With no lamp to warm up or cool down, the technology is reassuringly robust, and boasts impressive longevity. Sony quotes some 20,000 hours of maintenance free operation, which from a service proposition is a huge win. Installation is also relatively forgiving. The FHZ65’s expansive powered lens shift will combat some hostile line of sight problems, often a consequence of unavoidable venue furniture.

For greater versatility, Sony offers a variety of optional lenses, including a 0.65:1 short throw and tele-zoom covering up to 4.84:1 throw range, attached using a single button bayonet system.  Overall, we’re really impressed with the Sony VPL-FHZ65. In terms of brightness and colour vivacity, it’s a real winner and the feature set is highly advanced. This versatile B2B projector comes highly recommended.

The Sony VPL-FHZ65 is available now
Price: £10,590 (plus VAT)
The Sony VPL-FHZ65 is distributed by Midwich and Tech Data.

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology journalist, who also writes for T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice and ERT (amongst others).

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