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Sony VPL-CX5

  • Editors' rating
    7.9 Very good
  • $3,899.00

Pros

  • Excellent image quality
  • attractive design, featuring remote tilt control
  • Memory Stick slot.

Cons

  • Noisy
  • no digital or component video connections
  • remote only works from certain positions.

Sony has put its usual sleek, stylish spin on a product and come up with the VPL-CX5 projector. Slimline, lightweight and bright, it also includes a Memory Stick slot, allowing you to give presentations without a notebook. Although the styling and some of Sony's publicity may suggest that this is a home cinema projector, its feature set makes it far more suitable for presentation work.

This XGA (1,024 x 768 pixels) LCD projector features a motorised lens cover and tilt mechanism. The built-in automatic lens cover means you'll never lose the lens cap, or forget to remove or replace it. The tilt mechanism can be connected to the VPL-CX5's digital keystone correction feature to give automatic correction -- assuming the projector is on a level surface and your projection screen is vertical. You can control the tilt mechanism from buttons on top of the projector or using the supplied remote control. The VPL-CX5 remembers its last tilt position and reverts to it when switched on.

The VPL-CX5's 2,000 ANSI Lumen brightness rating is high, but this isn't the first projector we've seen with this level of light output. It is, however, the most compact unit with this brightness that we've seen. This doesn't come without a trade-off, though. The fans needed to keep the 165W bulb cool produce a massive 43dB noise when the projector is working at full brightness. Drop the light output down to 1,800 ANSI Lumens and the noise drops to 38dB, but this is still noisier than some projectors we've reviewed.

The high brightness means the image is clear even in a fully lit room, and on a less-than-ideal projection surface. The 'screen door' effect common to all LCD-based projectors is clearly visible, and we noticed a certain amount of flickering in the projected image. The zoom ratio of 1:1.2 and smallest possible image size of 40in. means that if you're stuck with a large projection distance, you may end up with a larger than ideal image.

There are minimal controls on the projector itself. Instead, you have to use the remote to access most of the available options. We found the remote control tricky to use from the side of the projector, and got no response trying to bounce the infrared beam off the wall in front of the unit. This won't be a problem for someone presenting from the front next to the projected image, but for a home installation this isn't really suitable. When the projector is connected to a PC using the supplied USB cable, you can use the remote as a mouse.

Two applications are provided with the projector: Projector Station for Control uses the USB connection to the VPL-CX5 to give you limited control over its operation; Projector Station for Presentation allows you to download images to the built-in Memory Stick reader for later playback. An 8MB Memory Stick is supplied with the projector.

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Projector Station for Control doesn't allow you much control over the projector -- there's nowhere near the full range of features available. What is does give you is the ability to assign programs or other files to the two function buttons on the remote control. You can then launch presentation software, for instance, with a single button press, which is much easier than using the mouse function on the remote.

Projector Station for Presentations allows you to convert images -- either a series of single images or a PowerPoint slide show -- to the optimal format for this projector, and store them on a Memory Stick in the projector. You need to have PowerPoint installed to be able to use PowerPoint slide shows with Memory Stick -- PS for Presentations can't do the conversion on its own. If you do convert a slide show, you'll lose animations and other effects you've put in -- you get a series of static images instead.

The VPL-CX5 is reasonably priced for its resolution and brightness, and looks a lot better than some projectors on the market. However, its aspect ratio, noise level and limited range of inputs make it less suitable for home use than some dedicated home cinema projectors. Its Memory Stick presentation facility and light weight mean that, although not the most compact projector on the market, the VPL-CX5 is still portable enough to use on the road, especially if you leave your notebook behind.

Specifications

Power Device
Voltage Required AC 100/240 V
Type power supply
Frequency Required 50/60 Hz
Power Consumption Operational 240 Watt
Interface Provided
Qty 1
Connector Type 15 pin HD D-Sub (HD-15), 4 pin USB Type A, 4 pin mini-DIN, BNC, mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm
Purpose / Location on supplied cable
Chassis
Built-in Devices speaker
Display
Image Brightness 2000
Image Size 39.4 in - 150 in
Projection Distance 5 ft - 24 ft
Max Sync Rate (V x H) 85 Hz x 92 kHz
Video Input
Analog Video Format NTSC, NTSC 3.58, NTSC 4.43, PAL, PAL-M, PAL-N, SECAM
Analog Video Signal RGB, S-Video, composite video
Video Interfaces S-Video, VGA, composite video
Supported Memory Cards Memory Stick
TV System NTSC, SECAM, PAL, PAL-N, PAL-M, NTSC 4.43, NTSC 3.58
Video Output
Analog Video Signal none
Environmental Parameters
Min Operating Temperature 32 °F
Max Operating Temperature 95 °F
Header
Brand Sony
Product Line Sony VPL
Model CX5
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
Operation
Lamp Type UHP 165 Watt
Lamp Life Cycle Up to 2000 hour(s)
Media Player
Supported Memory Cards Memory Stick
Projector
Class digital projector
Type LCD projector
Min Image Size 39.4 in
Max Image Size 150 in
Native Resolution 1024 x 768
Max Resolution (Resized) 1400 x 1050
Display Resolution Abbreviation XGA
Max V-Sync Rate 85 Hz
Max H-Sync Rate 92 Hz
Brightness 2000
Min Screen Distance 5 ft
Max Screen Distance 24 ft
Digital Zoom Factor 4x
Display Format 786,432 pixels (1,024 x 768) x 3
OSD Languages Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish
Projector Features powered lens protector, powered tilt
Audio Output
Type speaker(s)
Sound Output Mode mono
Form Factor integrated
Output Power / Channel 1 Watt
Projector Lens System
Lens Aperture f/1.8-2.2
Zoom Type powered
Zoom Factor 1.2x
Keystone Correction Direction vertical
Vertical Keystone Correction -15 / +15
Dimensions & Weight
Width 11.2 in
Depth 9 in
Height 2.7 in
Weight 5.95 lbs
Expansion Slots
Type Memory Stick
Total Qty 1
Free Qty 1
Audio Output Details
Speaker Type mixed channel
Speakers Qty 1
Cable Details
Type USB cable, display cable
Form Factor external
Included Qty 1
Software
Type Drivers & Utilities

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