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VPL-HS51A Features & Favorites

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Sony made a splash with its VPL-HS51 Cineza LCD projector at last year's CEDIA. It had a 6000:1 contrast ratio that, for possibly the first time, rivaled DLP, thanks in no small part to a dynamic iris system. While we wanted to get our hands on a review sample, our schedule pushed it off until we now got our hands on the newly improved VPL-HS51A. The 'A' denotes a slightly revised model that now boasts a 10,000:1 stated contrast ratio. With its price point coming in right at the sweet spot of those wanting to get into decent quality 720p projectors - we were anxious to run the Sony through our barrage of tests.

Features and Favorites

In evaluating the Sony Cineza VPL-HS51A (or any other projector for that matter) there are always some features that are important to point out. After all, each manufacturer is attempting to find an angle or advantage that puts its products on top of the competition. For Sony, those features include:

  • High Contrast Ratio
    This is quite clearly the pride and joy of this Sony product. We've heard of some high contrast ratios in projectors, but with its claim of 10,000:1, the Sony VPL-HS51A has got to be the author of most profound announcement for an LCD projector this year (and possibly next year as well). Positioned to directly assault the black levels associated with DLP projectors, Sony's newest Cineza projector puts up some impressive specifications.
  • Horizontal and Vertical Lens Shift
    Keystoning isn't to be used except for office presentations... For home theater you either need to install the projector flawlessly so that it lines up exactly with the screen (using an easily adjustable mount helps), or you'll want to get a model with horizontal and vertical lens shift. The Sony VPL-HS51A allows 100% vertical and 50% horizontal adjustment (or think of it as 1x screen width and 2x screen height). That's a whole lot of adjustment. While you want to try to minimize the use of lens shift as much as possible to maximize picture quality, it is a great feature to have.
  • Backlit Remote Control
    All projectors should have fully backlit remote controls - and this Sony Cineza gets it 85% right. With the exception of the Power, Light and Input buttons (not sure why they were skipped), the full remote lights up for easy reading of the projector controls in a darkened room. Additionally, the light button actually toggles the backlighting - another plus.
  • Advanced Dynamic Iris
    Taking its cue from the input signal, the Dynamic Iris system adjusts the iris, gamma and lamp output to make dark scenes deeper and bright scenes brighter - enhancing the perceived range of contrast
  • 0% Overscan for Digital Inputs w/o Mask or Scan Conversion
    Whereas the VPL-HS51 had a 5% fixed overscan w/o mask and with scan conversion, the revised VPL-HS51A finally gives users 100% of the picture when using the digital HDMI inputs. This is a huge improvement as overscan can now be manually controlled by the user as a function of placing the desired image borders into the projector screen frame.

Some of these items will receive additional attention later, but let's just say that for a projector that has an estimated street price of less than $3,000, Sony's VPL-HS51A is positioning itself as a strong contender in the realm of competent yet inexpensive home theater front projection systems.

 

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Recent Forum Posts:

mtrycrafts posts on February 23, 2009 23:50
Driver_King, post: 527150
I know this is a really old thread but I need some opinions here. I can get a Sony HS51A with a new bulb for $800 shipped. Would a Panasonic PT-AX200U be a better choice? What is the best projector I can get in the range do you think? I like what I've seen about the HS51A. I'm actually upgrading from my ISF calibrated Sony VPL-VW10HT projector because of the extreme lack of black detail on it. I moved from CRT blacks to virtually no blacks and am really wanting my black levels back! I have a completely light controlled room by the way if that helps any. Thanks!

I am far from being the expert on this projector or the Panny and tradeoffs.
Don't forget that Sony is only a 720p projector, from briefly reading Clint's post. Not sure if you are going BluRay or not, but today, buying a 720 may be a mistake no matter what. The larger the picture, the more you need the higher resolutions.

You may want to check out some older posts on this projector at AVS
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forumdisplay.php?s=&daysprune=&f=24

and search for both projectors. Some of those guys live and breath these

That vinyl screen, who make it?
Driver_King posts on February 22, 2009 00:05
I'm also getting a 92" screen to go in my bedroom setup.It is a white vinyl screen and I'm not sure if that has to do with anything.
Driver_King posts on February 22, 2009 00:01
Bump…

I know this is a really old thread but I need some opinions here. I can get a Sony HS51A with a new bulb for $800 shipped. Would a Panasonic PT-AX200U be a better choice? What is the best projector I can get in the range do you think? I like what I've seen about the HS51A. I'm actually upgrading from my ISF calibrated Sony VPL-VW10HT projector because of the extreme lack of black detail on it. I moved from CRT blacks to virtually no blacks and am really wanting my black levels back! I have a completely light controlled room by the way if that helps any. Thanks!
mtrycrafts posts on February 08, 2006 22:44
LEVESQUE
5 clicks and your in the factory mode. Really easy to do. I don't know if I can post factory settings here, but here it goes. But don't try those settings if you don't know what you are doing!
In the factory mode, “Other” directory, change:
#43 to 140
#44 to 700.
Those are controlling the way the iris reacts from both ends of the luminance spectrum.
5 ip/sharp limit. Default at 255. I set it to 0
8 IP-VS 0 is off, default 1 is on I turned this to 0= off.
18 IP-VS LIMIT default 64 I set this to 0
19 IP-VS CORE 4. Set it to 0
No more ringing.


Great. I made notes and attached to my preplanning papers The 8ip, 18ip, 19ip also needs to be adjusted to eliminate the ringing? Gary only mentioned #5.
Did you notice a decrease in lumens from these changes?
Is there are sheet what all those setting are for?
LEVESQUE posts on February 08, 2006 10:32
mtrycrafts
What tweaking did you do in the factory menu? Easy to get into it??

5 clicks and your in the factory mode. Really easy to do. I don't know if I can post factory settings here, but here it goes. But don't try those settings if you don't know what you are doing!

In the factory mode, “Other” directory, change:

#43 to 140
#44 to 700.

Those are controlling the way the iris reacts from both ends of the luminance spectrum.

mtrycrafts
One post by Garry, the WS reviewer, mentioned that the factory sharpness is defaulted to 255, yielding visible ringing issues and resetting to 0 caused it to disappear.?

5 ip/sharp limit. Default at 255. I set it to 0
8 IP-VS 0 is off, default 1 is on I turned this to 0= off.
18 IP-VS LIMIT default 64 I set this to 0
19 IP-VS CORE 4. Set it to 0

No more ringing.
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