First Impression: Sony VPLFHZ55 Laser Projector
Company claims 20,000 hours of maintenance-free use, instant on/off, and no cool-down period.
In the world of video projectors, lamp replacement and routine maintenance can end up costing more than the initial investment of the projector. Not to mention you need to properly recycle the old mercury UHP lamps, as they are essentially toxic waste. In an effort to reduce long-term cost of ownership, Sony recently released a new alternate light source projector, the VPLFHZ55, using blue lasers instead of UHP lamps with up to 20,000 hours of maintenance-free use. Sony’s claim of maintenance-free use does come with some very minor caveats, but for the most part looks to be legitimate.Based upon the product information available on Sony’s website let’s take a closer look at this unit starting with its specifications. The VPLFHZ55 is a WUXGA (1,920x1,200), 3LCD, 4,000 lumen projector in high light output mode. In standard light mode it is rated at 3,000 lumens. It has a contrast ratio of 8,000:1 and comes with a fixed manual lens with a throw ratio of 1.39 – 2.23:1. Surprisingly there are a full suite of video inputs. Analog inputs consist of S-video, Composite, 15-pin VGA and 5 BNC RGB/Component. Some of the analog connections are shared and are menu-selectable. Digital inputs are HDMI and DVI-D with HDCP support. It also has 1/8-inch audio inputs, outputs, and a 15-pin VGA monitor output port. Network RJ-45 and RS 232 ports are included for integration with room automation systems. Standard features include horizontal and vertical lens shift, keystone correction up to 30 degrees and the ability to select a black or white shell for aesthetically pleasing installations. While the video specifications are not much different than most other 3,000-4,000-lumen projectors, it’s the laser light engine that separates this projector from the crowd. One question you may be asking is how do you get a full color spectrum from only blue lasers? This was a question I had as well. Based upon Sony’s documentation the internal layout looks to be similar to one with a traditional lamp; the difference is where the lamp used to be you now find 56 blue laser diodes. The blue laser light is shot at a phosphor material and when the blue laser light contacts the phosphor, the phosphor emits white light just as a UHP lamp would. From there the light is split in to the RGB spectrum and passed through LCD panels and then combined in a prism to create the final image.