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Sony VPL-CX155

Sony's VPL-C series of LCD projectors includes six models, each designed to meet specific presentation requirements in mid-sized conference rooms and classrooms. But although the company has made great strides to integrate flexibility, from connectivity and security to advanced networking, image quality has taken an unfortunate hit.
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Written by Christian Harris on
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6.5/10

Sony VPL-CX155

Good
Pros
  • Solid build quality
  • Good networking features
  • Easy to use
  • Relatively quiet
Cons
  • Disappointing image quality
  • No DVI or component video inputs
  • No Wi-Fi or Bluetooth
  • Editors' Review
  • Specs

Sony's VPL-C series of LCD projectors includes six models, each designed to meet specific presentation requirements in mid-sized conference rooms and classrooms. But although the company has made great strides to integrate flexibility, from connectivity and security to advanced networking, image quality has taken an unfortunate hit.

The models in the C series — VPL-CW125, VPL-CX155, VPL-CX150, VPL-CX125, VPL-CX120 and VPL-CX100 — are all based on 3LCD technology with Sony's Advance Crisp Focus glass lens, which is designed to display sharper and clearer images, with minimal aberration, on a screen's entire surface. Unfortunately the VPL-CX155 reviewed here struggled with text in our tests, while its general performance was below par.

The 3,000-lumen VPL-CW125 delivers a WXGA resolution, ideal for presentations from a wide-screen source such as a WXGA PC or high-definition video with a 16:9 aspect ratio, while the other models in the series feature native XGA resolution (1,024 by 768 pixels) with a range of brightness levels from 2,700 to 3,500 lumens. The VPL-CX155 (29.8 by 37.2 by 9cm; 4.1kg) that we looked at has a brightness of 3,500 ANSI lumens, which is acceptable for demanding business use in a brightly lit room. Having said that, we could only get the best from the projector in a dimly lit room, which is far from ideal considering the unit isn't designed for movie watching.

The projector accepts a practical variety of input signals, including composite video, S-Video (Y/C) and analogue computer signals up to SXGA+. This flexibility allows it to be connected to a variety of sources and peripherals, but we were disappointed at the lack of component video or even a DVI port — especially as many modern notebooks include the latter as standard. The projector has a monitor output and audio inputs and outputs (so you can link the audio output connector to an external speaker system to enhance the user experience), as well as an RS-232C port for remote use and a 10/100 Ethernet port for connection to a wired network. There's no Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, though.

The VPL-CX155 is well built and its stylish silver casing would enhance any modern office. It's also relatively quiet in operation, and the front-panel alerts you when the lamp needs to be replaced (to reduce maintenance time, filter cleaning is also recommended at the same time as lamp replacement). The lamp, which should be good for around 3,000 hours, is accessible from inside the rear cover, while the filter can be reached from the front of the projector. This means that lamp replacement and filter cleaning can be performed without uninstalling the projector. Network capabilities mean you can deliver presentations over an IP network; a number of functions can also be performed remotely via a web browser, and the projector's current status can be verified and simple controls operated, such as powering the unit on or off.

Another neat feature is that up to five projectors can be connected to a network and the image from a single PC can be projected by each unit — this could prove useful in large venues and multi-room applications in which images need to be projected from various locations. By manually registering a PC's IP address, images can also be projected across the country or even internationally for distance learning or long-distance communications. Furthermore, the network capabilities allow automatic email reports to be sent to remind you of scheduled maintenance, or alert you to errors and projected lamp life.

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The VPL-CX155 has a built-in ID function. This enables it to be controlled independently using a single Remote Commander unit, which is useful for multi-projector installations in a single room, and during installation and operation. Also noteworthy is the fact that the full-size remote (the CX150, CX120 and CX100 come with a card-type controller) has buttons for direct input selection, so you don't have to toggle through the entire range of inputs to select the desired one. You can adjust such settings as digital zoom and audio volume, or activate auto pixel-alignment, picture-muting and picture-freeze functions. Other core features include vertical and horizontal keystone correction, and direct power on/off. For classroom or office settings, security features such as a control panel key lock, password authentication system and a built-in security bar or Kensington lock help to prevent unauthorised use and theft.

Suitable for ceiling or rear installation, or portable use, the VPL-CX155 offers the flexibility to work where and how you want, along with the extra benefits of network capability. It also has some useful user-friendly features, such as the ability to display the image simultaneously on a large screen and on an additional monitor (via a 15-pin D-Sub connection), so you can face the audience and still see the information being shown. Our only criticism is that the projector's 3LCD panels don't live up to the unit's potential. The overall image isn't very bright, while text quality is really quite poor — we struggled to read Word and Excel documents from as little as three metres away. Videos and photos looked better (the colours were good), but this is little consolation given the VPL-CX155's target market. Overall, we were left wanting more from a business projector with such a high price tag.

 

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