Sony VPL CX61 review
Small businesses looking for an affordable projector have a wide range of low-cost DLP-based models to choose from, but image quality and brightness are frequent casualties. Sony’s latest VPL range aims to remedy this, as it delivers LCD technology for improved resolution along with high brightness levels, but at a price on the right side of four figures.
The CX61 offers a maximum resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels, plus a top brightness of 2,500 lumens. It’s aimed at a wide variety of applications, such as training, lectures and meetings, although tipping the scales at a hefty 3.7kg we question its portability (for a more briefcase-friendly alternative, look at the Labs on p128). The unit provides a good range of input and output connections, all accessible behind a sliding panel in the side. A useful addition is the D-SUB output, so you can attach a monitor to the projector and track your presentation while facing your audience.
Swift vertical adjustment on a tabletop is facilitated by a drop-down leg and ratchet at the front. Controls are provided on the top panel for selecting an input and accessing the main setup menu. The later is easily navigable, as all manual control is via a small joystick. Buttons for controlling zoom and focus are also provided on the side, along with another for blanking the display when you want everyone’s attention. The projector ships with a small remote control pad and has infrared receptors both front and rear. However, coverage is restricted, so the pad won’t work if you’re standing directly to the side of the projector. The CX61 can run in a high mode at the full 2,500 lumens, while a standard mode drops this to 2,000 lumens. For the latter setting, the projector barely whispers, but move up to the high mode and the fan speed increases to a noticeable although still unobtrusive whine. During testing in our boardroom, we asked the viewers for their comments and they said the noise levels weren’t a problem. The internal 1W speaker did come in for some stick, because it’s extremely feeble, although there’s an audio-out socket for connecting an external amplifier.
Image quality is very good, though. The video image is clear and sharp, with good focus extending right to the edges. Colour accuracy was also smart, as the red, green and blue colour ramps in our technical tests were reproduced without any banding. In the real world, this equates to photographs having that extra zing that can make a presentation stand out. If we have any gripes it’s with text, as although it was quite readable, smaller fonts on a white background suffered from a slight smudging effect. We also found that contrast was poorer when the zoom was set to maximum. Nevertheless, the projector handled different light levels well, as at high brightness our presentation was clearly visible with the boardroom blinds open on a sunny day.
Pricewise, the CX61 is in the same ballpark as much of the LCD-equipped competition. However, what makes it worth much closer inspection is the combination of good overall image quality, low noise levels and design, plus the fact that Sony took the last PC Pro Reliability & Service award for the projector category.
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