In the first half of this article, we explored Sony’s breadth of product expertise that helps make them a well-rounded technology partner. We made a pretty good case, let’s say you’ve decided to go with Sony for everything. Great! It’s time to get down to what we REALLY like to talk about at Projector Reviews – what projector should you buy or recommend?
Sony Projector Solutions for Business and Higher Education
According to Sony, there’s been a resurgence in the use of projectors for business and higher education applications – because the lamp-free, lower TCO (total cost of ownership) advantages of the new generation laser projectors are clear. And many applications need the larger-screen-size-for-the-budget and portability advantages of laser projectors. But all laser projectors are not created equal. Sony laser projectors – both the Sony 3LCD series and the 4K Pro SXRD line-up – have proven themselves in the most rigorous business use cases.
The Sony 3LCD projector series – the powerful Z-Phosphor laser light source is teamed with Sony’s advanced 3LCD projection and Reality Creation image processing to deliver extremely bright, rich, and stable colors with great clarity.
For the most demanding users, Sony SXRD projectors deliver native 4K resolution along with stunning high contrast and incredibly accurate colors
Let’s look at four possible applications and excellent Sony projector choices for each:
1. Small classrooms and conference rooms
If your customer needs a bright and compact projector for a small classroom or conference room, we recommend the Sony VPL-PHZ50 (5000 ANSI lumen WUXGA 3LCD projector). With a sleek and compact chassis, the VPL-PHZ50 is designed to fit into almost any space by blending into the background. Sony has created a functional, aesthetically-pleasing product that is durable, easy to set up, and easy to use.
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. The VPL-PHZ50 laser light engine is designed to last up to 20,000 hours. That translates to about ten years of use.
The VPL-PHZ50 laser projector includes Sony’s exclusive signal processing technology, Bright View. This unique technology brightens images without sacrificing color in high ambient light environments. Sony Bright View processing technology ensures a more consistent color even as the projector’s brightness automatically adjusts up or down in response to changes in the room’s lighting. Bright View creates bright and sharp images while maintaining color balance (High, Middle, Low). The image can be bright without color loss even in well-lit environments. It is ideal for applications like classrooms or boardrooms where it’s not feasible or safe to dim the lights completely.
There is also a new feature called Reality Text which improves the visibility of characters and is ideal for presenting in conference rooms and classrooms. This is perfect for the kind of data-driven, results-based Excel deep dives adored by all C-level executive types.
Finally, in some boardrooms or classrooms, your customer may have 4K flat TV panel TVs on the wall and an HD projector installed in the ceiling. In some cases, the source will “dumb down” the resolution to match the resolution of the lowest input source, causing a real headache. Solving this issue might require a costly external scaling solution. No such worries here! Although the unit is a WUXGA (1920 x 1200) projector, it offers a 4K60p input to simply integration with 4K flat panel TVs. For supreme ease of operation, customers can split the 4K signal to drive all displays, with no scaling or conversion needed.
If you’d like to learn more about this projector, check out the recently posted review here.
2. Large lecture halls and similar sized venues
If your customer needs a projector for midsize auditoriums, conference rooms, and classrooms, we recommend the bright, powerful, and compact VPL-FHZ80 and VPL-FHZ85 laser projectors. The VPL-FHZ80 is rated at 6,000 ANSI (6,500 Center) lumens and the step-up VPL-FHZ85 is rated at 7,300 ANSI (8,000 center) lumens. Sony states that the VPL-FHZ85 is the smallest and lightest 3LCD laser projector available in its brightness class.
The first thing you might notice about these projectors is how bright they are for their size. The VPL-FHZ80 (6,000 ANSI lumens) and the VPL-FHZ85 (7,300 ANSI lumens) can deliver the higher brightness needed to enjoy a large screen image while overcoming ambient light.
Another important consideration is the ongoing pandemic and the need for the public to socially distance in most indoor situations. High brightness ensures a vivid picture even in a room with some ambient light, like a lecture hall. A bigger, brighter projected image makes it easier for audience members to maintain a safe distance from other participants, as needed.
In addition to high brightness, the FHZ85 and FHZ80 include several features to ensure that their brightness capabilities are optimized based on the room environment. Some other projectors use conventional signal processing that can raise the signal level to make a projected image brighter, but the color tends to wash out. In a strongly lit room, these other manufacturers may achieve a bright picture, but it’s not vivid or dramatic. And that might be okay for a classroom with a bunch of algebra equations projected on a big screen, but it won’t be compelling for an art show at a museum or brand pitch in a corporate boardroom.
The VPL-FHZ80 and VPL-FHZ85 laser projectors include Sony’s exclusive signal processing technology called Bright View that helps maintain exceptional color, even while projecting a bright image. This unique signal processing technology brightens images without sacrificing color in the high ambient light environments typically found in business and higher education environments. To facilitate this technology, a small sensor is built into each projector that continuously monitors lighting conditions.
[sam_pro id=1_141 codes="true"]
Like the VPL-PHZ50 we mentioned in the last section, these units also include Reality Text which improves the visibility of characters and is ideal for presenting in conference rooms and classrooms.
In addition to being very bright, these new midrange laser WUXGA business/education projectors feature 3LCD, a Laser Light Engine, and just about every type of input users could ever need. The FHZ80 and FHZ85 both feature 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 when the projector is ceiling-mounted. Your customer wants to wow an audience with presentation or visuals, not distract them with a black box.
In addition to the standard supplied lens, there are seven fixed and variable lens options to suit virtually any size of room or throw requirement. Furthermore, depending on the lens chosen, the VPLFHZ80 and the VPL-FHZ85 offer a class-leading vertical +70% lens shift adjustment range, further increasing placement flexibility.
In the past, bright projectors were both big and noisy. The VPL-FHZ85 and VPL-FHZ80 are not only compact, but they were also designed to be exceptionally quiet. The projector’s fans are precisely controlled according to the laser output setting. For example, when you lower the laser output, the fan speed slows, which reduces the acoustic noise to as low as 26dBa.
Because they’re both so quiet, the FHZ85 and FHZ80 are ideal for situations where you need to place a small, bright projector overhead like a small boardroom, a museum installation, or a classroom where students need a quiet environment to concentrate.
[sam_pro id=1_74 codes="true"]
To greatly simplify the installation and setup of multiple projectors, the projectors support Data Cloning. Using this feature, any settings made for one projector can be copied to the second and subsequent projectors using a USB memory drive. For example, if you work at a school district and purchase 50 projectors, you can program one and transfer the settings to the other 49 projectors. You’ll appreciate the time savings when installing and setting up multiple projectors.
Both models feature Sony’s Z-Phosphor laser light source. Sony claims that customers will enjoy up to 20,000 hours of uninterrupted operation, with no lamp replacement and virtually zero maintenance. In addition to the reliability of a laser light source, the VPL-FHZ80 and VPL-FHZ85 also offer a sealed light engine so dust can’t accumulate, which helps maintain image brightness and clarity over the projector’s lifetime.
When dust accumulates on a projector’s internal filter, the projector performance can be impacted. The VPL-FHZ80 and VPL-FHZ85 are equipped with an automated filter cleaning system that removes dust every 100 hours, ensuring unrestricted clean air intake for optimized cooling and minimizing time spent on routine maintenance. Sometimes it’s the little things that can help you save time and money and keep your technicians safer by not having them up on ladders as often to clean or change air filters. As we like to say here at Projector Reviews, it’s better to “set it and forget it!”
If you’d like to learn more about these projectors, check out February’s sponsored article here.
3. Large conference halls, lecture theaters, galleries, museums, visitor attractions, and other large spaces
If your customer wants to wow an audience in a large space, suggest the very high light output 13,000 lm (13,600 lm center) VPL-FHZ131L. Impressive picture quality is boosted by Sony’s unique super resolution Reality Creation technology. This uses a powerful pattern-matching database to optimize lower-resolution images, enhancing clarity without increasing digital picture noise.
The unit is also stackable – to potentially double the brightness. 26,000 lumens, for example, is rock concert brightness. But even by itself, the VPL-FHZ131L has enough brightness to handle most medium and large auditoriums or any size lecture hall.
Considering the exceptional brightness, the VPL-FHZ131L is reasonably priced. Your customer will benefit from the 3LCD/laser combination for superior color without the mega price tags of 3-chip DLP projector. Other benefits include great placement flexibility – vertical lens shift is almost an astonishing 107%, far more than most of the competition.
The unit also includes Sony’s Intelligent Settings which is designed to make creating the optimal setup much faster, easier, and better performing. Projectors (in normal operations) balance color accuracy and fidelity, brightness, audible noise, and other capabilities. Typically, projectors are set up manually, by professionals. It’s up to the professional installer to determine when one capability takes precedence.
For example, in a boardroom or classroom, a quiet environment is super important so projectors in those spaces tend to run at reduced brightness to stay quieter. In a corporate lobby, it may be more important to prioritize color accuracy and fidelity so brand colors and key imagery is sharp and impactful. In that case, brightness and audible noise would be secondary concerns. A third consideration is a venue like a large auditorium that uses a multi-screen display. Intelligent Setting can help guarantee that all projectors in an array have exactly the same color and brightness – to seamlessly create one very large image. Multi-projector setups are also commonly used in large lecture halls.
The VPL-FHZ131L supports Edge Blending, Projection Mapping and Constant Brightness, and the ability to auto calibrate. This technology is a real plus for anyone responsible for choosing and then configuring projectors for ideal performance in the planned space. Other benefits of optimizing for usage can include better reliability and longer life.
4. Ultimate picture quality – ideal for “wow” installations, museums, exhibitions, screening rooms, flight simulators, etc.
For environments that demand uncompromising image brightness, clarity, color accuracy, and contrast, suggest Sony’s flagship 10,000 lumen VPL-GTZ380 native 4K SXRD Laser Projector. The GTZ380 is intended for applications where the highest image quality is critical. While the unit will be most attractive to video enthusiasts looking for the ultimate home theater projector, you will also see it utilized for other applications including film festivals, private screening rooms, training simulators, and high-end corporate installations.
The GTZ380 utilizes a newly designed Z-Phosphor laser light source that incorporates a red laser diode in addition to the two different-wavelength blue laser diodes to achieve the full DCI-P3 color gamut without any loss of brightness. The additional red laser diode dramatically expands color volume, without the loss of brightness common to other high-end models that use a built-in color filter.
The GTZ380 uses three newly developed 0.74″ SXRD panels to deliver true 4K resolution (4096 x 2160). The unit’s ultra-high quality lens assembly ensures that every ounce of detail reaches the screen.
In addition to a rated brightness of 10,000 lumens, 100% DCI-P3 color coverage, and a 16,000:1 native contrast, the flagship GTZ380 is also equipped with the most powerful video processor that Sony has ever put into a projector, named “X1 Ultimate for projector”.
While the X1 Ultimate processor was originally developed for Sony’s Master Series LCD and OLED flat-panel televisions, this version has been optimized for projectors with the goal of enhancing the picture quality of projected images.
The GTZ380 is compatible with two motorized Sony ARC-F lenses which include an ultra-high-quality, multi-element, all-glass lens assembly. This ARC-F lens is a significant upgrade in optical quality compared to the very good lenses used on Sony’s less expensive native 4K SXRD projectors.
While the GTZ380 is twice as bright as its “little brothers”, the VPL-GTZ280 and VW5000ES, it looks nearly identical. The chassis measures approximately 22 inches wide, 9″ high x 30″ deep, and weighs about 112 pounds. In fact, the GTZ380 is both the most compact and lightest unit in its class.
Sony claims a very quiet 33-39 dB which is significantly quieter than most competitive high-end projectors. Most 10,000 lumen projectors are typically so noisy you’d have to install them in a quiet box or in an entirely different room. Surprisingly for a projector of this brightness, the GTZ380 is exceptionally quiet, only producing a nicely low-pitched background fan noise that you are very unlikely to even notice.
The GTZ380 delivered the best-looking HDR picture, that we at Projector Reviews have ever seen. If you’d like to read more about this outstanding projector, click here.
It’s not very effective to try to cobble together projector, display, video, and audio solutions from random vendors. It’s definitely best practice to optimize the entire AV ecosystem. Choosing Sony as your technical partner will allow you to leverage the latest audio and video advancements to enable better student and faculty engagement.
In addition to traditional AV technologies including displays, projectors, remote cameras, presentation tools, and microphones, Sony also provides specialized equipment as part of complete end-to-end solutions. With a long history in the consumer and professional spaces, business customers can also rely on Sony’s AI and AR technologies; broadcast, studio, and cinema cameras; switchers and professional monitors; speakers and headphones; gaming devices; cloud-based workflows; and content storage, archive, and management tools.
Beyond the world-class products, you will also benefit from Sony’s ongoing collaboration with partners, integrators, resellers, distributors, architects, and designers. Finally, all of Sony’s professional products are backed by a product and parts professional warranty, which ranges from one to five years.
Regardless of your projection environment or professional A/V application, Sony products should be at the top of your lists. Join the growing number of leading AV design consultants and higher ed AV/IT tech managers who are curating Sony solutions to improve every aspect of the business, and learning environments.