Sony VPL Projector

The Sony VPL-CX-5 Projector Review
Gary Mercado

Having been a tech writer for awhile, I’ve reviewed by now quite a number of things. I’ve done my share of notebooks and PDAs, and I’ve run the gamut of things as mundane as a computer table to high-tech items like routers and digicams. But truth to tell, inspite of what may seem an enjoyable task, reviewing can be really quite difficult.

This is mainly because one has to check every detail. If it says it can do this, then it is apt to check if it really can, and try to relay all experiences whilst doing so. Meanwhile, the company that lent it to you is (very gently) prodding you to get it back as soon as they can, and finally, there’s the issue of working on one’s main profession, writing being only a part-time affair.

You would think then, that getting a projector to review would be great – I mean, how complicated can a projector be? First of all, just plug it as your monitor, turn it on, face it to a wall, and you’re in business right? Then you’d have time to do other things, like work on my clients for instance. Boy was I wrong.

Oh What Some Light Can Do

I’m hard put to describe it, but for lack of any, “Stunning” would be the most appropriate. Using the CX-5 to watch my old VCDs and to play games gave me a new appreciation of Al Pacino’s acting and Battle Realm’s video rendering that I had never truly appreciated before. Putting it together from the sleek casing it came in was, as described, quite easy enough. It even has a Smart APA (auto pixel alignment) and Auto Keystone Correction to help in aligning it properly, assuring you get perfect straight images everytime.

There are only two buttons on top, an “Input” button for it to auto-search for a video feed, and of course the On button. After that, it even raises and removes the lens cover by itself. After some focusing all the adjustment is done via remote control and you don’t have to touch it again after that.

But let’s get down to what a projector is really supposed to do, which is to make an impression on your audience. I placed the CX-5 on a chair in our living room to give us an approximate 4.5 ft x 3 ft. screen on our white wall, and everything just really seemed better.
The only new thing new was the CX-5, but my guests kept asking about the “New PC” or the “great sound system”, when frankly these were your ordinary off the shelf items bought cheap at any PC store. Somehow everything felt fresher and clearer.

The experience is just amazing that it kept me up most of the first night I had it, and ordinary things I disciplined myself to put aside long ago like watching VCDs and playing games came back quickly into fashion. I played VCD after VCD of Godfather, Moulin Rouge, Monsters Inc. and many other movies I missed, and promptly forgot about impending deadlines. Even this article was at risk, until I decided to connect it back to my monitor, which had the effect of a trip back to reality.

Where It Is In The Family

The Sony CX-5 is the highest model of the portable type projectors that Sony has to offer. In their projector family, it is the third from the top, with non-portable types like the PX11 and the PX15 offering such things as ceiling mountability and (gasp) even wireless networking capability.

The CS-5 is the lowest model, offering less brightness and resolution (1800 ansi, 800×600) but at a more affordable price. It also lacks some features such as the Memory Stick (described below). Otherwise, it’s a much cheaper version but since I didn’t get to try it I cannot compare them.

The CX-5 also has built in audio support via a 1w Mono speaker, which is probably enough for some accompanying sound but one shouldn’t expect too much. It also has a great looking case and most importantly it is very light and easy to carry around. Anyone who’s experienced having to lug around the earlier projector models would appreciate the lesser strain on one’s back. Finally a projector that weighs less than a notebook.

Get That Data In

It’s fairly safe to assume you won’t have a difficult time connecting either the CX-5 and CS-5 to your preferred media player, whether it a PC, a VHS or even a TV. A built in scan converter accepts composite video, component video (up to 750 TV lines) or RGB and accepts VGA, SVGA up to SXGA mode.

But what really steals the show is that it can use Sony’s Memory Stick that comes in 8mb to 128mb. flavors to contain JPEG and TIFF as well as MPEG1 movies and Powerpoint (PPS, PPT) presentations. This is Sony’s “buy me instead of another brand” statement loud and clear, especially for people who need to make presentations on the road. Once saved on a Memory Stick, you don’t have to bring your laptop to meetings anymore. Heck even if the presentation is across the hall, the prospect of not having to mess with cables, look for extra power outlets, or allow people to fiddle with your laptop while you’re not looking is enough to entice any road warrior.

However, you need to consider that the Memory Stick is a proprietary Sony format, which means you can only get it from Sony and will not work with other brands. Another format gaining popularity nowadays is the USB Memory Key which is more of an industry standard of which Sony also has a model, called the “Micro Vault”. I gather that the Memory Stick is superior because it can run applications but for mere file transfer and not to mention compatibility issues it would have been nicer if the CX-5 was designed to use the Micro Vault instead.

At any rate, it’s easy enough to find the Memory Stick in most big malls in Manila, and if you happen to have another Sony product such as their digicams or PDAs (called Cliι), you’d be able to transfer files among them.

All Good Things Come At A Price

If I were to ape a popular credit card ad campaign, I’d say that a view of a sunset at Tagaytay is Priceless, but for viewing everything else, you’d need the CX-5 – and once you experience it you’d know what I mean. However, unlike the free sunset, this comes with a pricetag and boy what a pricetag this is.

P150,000.00 is what you should expect to pay for it – making this the most expensive single item I’ve ever reviewed. Sony’s time-tested marketing strategy was always to provide the best in every field it enters into, and this is manifest in their TVs, Digicams and even their Vaio laptops, all of which rank high among people’s most wanted lists. But at the same time, you’ll notice they’ve never allowed themselves to give in to price-wars. So sure there might be other players out there offering a similar or even good product at a cheaper price, but company-wide you’d be hard put to find someone who does it as consistently as Sony.

But is that good enough a reason to shell out P150k big ones? Roughly the price of a decent second hand car? If viewed from a purely expenditure perspective, then maybe not, considering there may be cheaper alternatives out there. However the CX-5 offers value for money at every level, from its all-business design and sleek white casing to it’s Memory Stick data transfering feature and let’s not forget the truly brilliant output – plus of course the promise of dependable performance the Sony brand carries.

With these going for it, one should consider the purchase of the CX-5 as a step up above all the others – like you’re getting one of the best of what’s out there so to speak. Viewed this way, the Sony CX-5 makes a great argument for itself and would truly be valuable to any company.

A final word of warning, though – on your next presentation, whatever you’re presenting on it must be of better value than the CX-5. Otherwise, your audience will want to buy it instead.

Where to Buy:
Charlie Co, Sales Manager
TQM (Total Quality Machines)
GF 704 Pablo Ocampo St. Manila
tel. 5363243
fax. 5363241

Sony VPL-CS-5: P130,000.00 SRP
18,000 ANSI Lumens, no Memory Stick option; up to 800×600 SVGA.

Sony VPL-CX-5: P150,000.00 SRP
20,000 ANSI Lumens, with Memory Stick option; up to 1024×768 SVGA.

Comes with Accessories: Remote Commander, Monitor Cable, USB Cable, Carrying Bag, Fertite Core, and 8mb. Memory Stick and CD Rom Application Software.

Quick Features:
• 2000 ANSI Lumens
• XGA Resolution (1204 X 768)
• Approx. 5lb 15oz / 2.7kg Weight
• Automatic Set Up (Lens, Tilt & Keystone)
• 0.7 LCD Panel with Micro Lens (Super High Aperture)
• 165W UHP Lamp – 2000 Hours Lamp Life
• Input – RGB/Component, S-Video, Composite Video, Audio & USB (Wireless Mouse & Projector Station)
• 40″ to 150″ Screen Size (measured diagonally)
• Memory Stick Media
• Digital Zoom
• Powered lens protector
• Auto input search
• Ultra-bright lamp and super high aperture liquid crystal panel
• On-board audio support

Accessory Items:
LMPC150 165w
UHP Lamp For The VPL-CS5 & VPL-CX5