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Got my Sony HS50 today. My review.

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by Bristol Pete, Feb 1, 2005.

  1. Bristol Pete

    Bristol Pete
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    My HS50 arrived today.

    After much deliberation over my next purchase and despite not having been able to demo the Sony HS50 due to my location and apparent lack of projector dealers in the south west, I decided to order one via www.Nexnix.co.uk forum sponsors who have again come up trumps for me. I did pay the extra £20.00 for a dead pixel/panel check and the unit is fine out of the box :thumbsup:

    First Impressions.

    First impressions are good. The unit is somewhat organic in shape and is borderline minimal. Cosmetically it is a million miles away from the rather cheap looking LCD projectors that I had owned previously, including the Sanyo Z1 and the Panasonic 300 and HS10 (though the HS10 never looked cheap). In effect, it looks like an expensive piece of kit, and something that can take pride of place within your av/lounge/cinema room. The lens shift buttons are effective, well designed and quite taught when shifting the image, which allows the picture to be tightened for want of a better word - when you have found your sweet spot. Measuring about 12 inches in length, the HS50 is bigger than the aforementioned projectors, though not quite as cumbersome as the HS10 and HS20 in its set up due to the short throw lens. Finally, the filter is situated at the rear of the machine, concealed behind plastic casing. Nice. :)

    Connection.

    Like its elder brothers, the connection sockets are situated at the rear of the unit, with component being my current connection of choice as I have my DVD, sat box and my x-box piped through a Denon 2805 with component switching. One initial disappointment I can level at Sony is the removal of the much used multi cable, supplied with both the HS10 and HS20. To me, this cheap but effective cable was a godsend as it allowed me to hook up a direct DVD connection whilst switching other component sources via the multi-cable and amp. This does seem like a backward step, but it is not the be all and end all. Aside from component there is an HDMI input, s-video, composite and a vga input should you wish to use a computer to drive the image, game or indeed surf the web on a big scale. I am yet to appraise the HDMI input but it is something I may consider in the future :lesson:

    Operation.

    This machine really does run quietly. The HS10 was a jumbo jet in comparison. It is situated around two feet away from my viewing seat and the fan noise is not heard. As with the earlier Sony models, there is no power on switch as such and it is simply a case of switching the unit on from the mains. Therefore, I recommend unplugging the machine when not in use. Hey, you never know when lightning can strike! As before, the lens shift is very effective and now a pre-requisite for the projection industry as more and more people join the world of fp and use projectors within the confines of a lounge, rather than a darkened av room. The words ‘plug and play' spring to mind when I look at the Sony. That's not to say it is not tweakable - it is. However, a front projection novice could wire and fire the HS50 in moments and jump straight into a movie. The zoom ring is manual situated on the front of the machine. It is quite thin and a tiny little bit awkward to set but once done it should not need to be adjusted. The focus is just inside the zoom ring and is a lot easier to handle as you set your screen up. The remote is a carbon copy of the HS10 and 20 model though without the electronic zoom and focus which is a shame, though the budget of this machine must dictate the removal of the electronic zoom etc. No problems overall.

    Performance.

    I have tested some DVD material on the machine tonight, along with the Man Utd vs. Arsenal game on Sky Sports and I have had a few games of Pro-evolution 4 on the x-box. Firstly, DVD played on my Denon 2900 via component is sublime. Note that I allow the DVD to deinterlace the image, though the 50 is no slouch in this department, offering progressive and film pulldown in the picture settings should you decide to use an interlaced DVD deck. My current favoured test disks are Open Range, Troy, The Football Factory and Hell Boy.
    Firstly, I refer to chapter 18 on Open Range when the free-grazers have a shoot out in the town. Here, the black level is superb. In fact, the Sony is so good at black level I actually went into the Denon set up menu and asked it to output a lighter black mode as it was almost too dark, thus crushing/negating the detail found in the blacks. So far so good. The relatively high resolution allows a very detailed picture and the finely woven garments worn by Costner and co. in open range look fantastic. The gunpowder smoke on screen reveals no vertical banding and there is no on screen noise for the eye to see. Overall, a very clean, sharp detailed picture endemic of a well made LCD projector.
    In all honestly, perhaps not quite as ‘filmic' as some DLP machines but equally without the viewing problems occasionally encountered with that format. However, please note that the PQ of the Sony when considering the inherent drawbacks of LCD is staggering and is the best LCD image I have seen bar none. Switching to Troy and skipping to the scene where Pitt and co invade Turkey, I was again very pleased by the sheer amount of detail that the HS50 can pick out. Pitt's headgear is pitted and covered in marks, as is his shield. The HS50 can pick out the fine detail with ease and I am sure that there are going to be many more ‘I have never noticed that before' moments when watching my back catalogue of DVDs. Popping the Football Factory into the 2900 again reveals the superb black level and its eye for detail. I had not noticed the bags under the assembled actor's eyes before or the lack of razor blades again owned by the cast as they scrap it out in Fila coats, burberry hats and white trainers :D
    Detail wise this really is superb projector and it has actually really surprised me. The superb 1:85:1 image found on the testing HellBoy DVD is lovely. Again, the black level is astounding and the detail eeked out is amazing. I consider hellBoy to be a real test for any PJ and the alleged 6000:1 contrast ratio of the Sony seems to be able to handle the darkness of the movie. Switching to SKY sports revealed the obvious limitations of watching TV through a projector due to the low bit rates on UK sat and cable. However, colour wise it is spot on. Manchester Utd's away kit worn earlier tonight is ‘proper' black. In addition, the image is detailed enough to pick out the weave of the material on the kit.
    Finally, the x-box connected via component is superb. Sharp, smooth and again very detailed. I actually prefer playing games on an LCD machine compared to DLP.

    Note from what I can see, the iris does work and I cannot hear it in action as it attempts to draw the best contrast from the relevant scene. It seems to removed that washed out effect inherent to some LCD machines, resulting in a lucid, bold picture. The settings available are off, on and auto. Oddly on and auto result in a different picture. Overall I will leave set on auto.

    I cannot think of any real superlatives to describe the picture quality of the HS50 though I can write about how pleased I am with it and how I consider this money well spent. It is worth keeping :clap: :clap: :clap:

    Overall.

    I thoroughly recommend the HS50. Any faults? Well no - not really. However, I am aware that it has been described as a little dim out of the box. Actually, I found this to be true. However, had I not read that then would I have thought it? In reality in a darkened room and not even in absolute black out the image is fine although I can understand why some folk may say that it lacks punch. Obviously, I have not yet tweaked the image; I simply plugged it in, sat down and did some viewing :smashin:

    I have refrained from posting screen shots for the time being as compressed jpegs simply do not reflect or give the machine justice :lesson:

    Hope this helps. Any questions? I hope I can answer. Thanks for reading.

    Captain Benefit :smashin:
     
  2. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    Nice review - glad to see you have finally had a good result!

    Sounds like you're getting a great picture, and with no issues at all by the sounds of things. Had a chance to see how well the iris works in varying scenes of light and dark? I think Bytehoven over on avsforum has had a chance to tweak the HS50s iris menu optuions, so when you're more familiar with it, you might want to have a look and see what he's had to say and if he's managed to improve on it at all.

    Gary.
     
  3. Bristol Pete

    Bristol Pete
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    Gary,

    The iris system clearly has an effect on the picture but it is hard to describe. The picture does become more cinematic, with deeper blacks and it seems to loose the washed out problem of older LCD models. Watching Hellboy was a revelation as the red skin tone of the central character was lucid, bold and very colourful.

    That said, I have not spent much time assessing the iris. However, between the settings of off, on or auto, auto works for me.

    Cap :)
     
  4. Bristol Pete

    Bristol Pete
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    By the way, in all honesty, the HS50 would probably be a backward step compared to your H77. However, as always the proof is in a demo or ownership.

    I am happy with the 50, but I can be honest enought to say that a top DLP machine such as yours should edge it - assuming that any given eye is not partial to dithering, rainbow etc.

    Cap :)
     
  5. juniper

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    Excellent review Captain :smashin:

    I wonder if you (or anyone else?) have any thoughts as to how the HS50 compares to the HS20 (I realise you have not owned one of these :blush: ) ? I know that a straight specification list comparison reveals some pros and some cons, but I mean as far as the image quality is concerned? I absolutely love my HS20, but as a terrible sufferer of upgradeitis, if someone were to tell me that we have chalk and cheese here then credit card city here we come :)

    Thanks........
     
  6. Bristol Pete

    Bristol Pete
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    Well, interesting point. For one, the resolution of the HS20 is slightly higher. However, surely this must be negliable :confused:

    I think the increase in contrast and black level would surprise you. One thing to consider before shelling out on a new PJ would be the black level available from a decent DVD player. To be honest, the black level on my Denon 2900 is superb and if set to darker when connected via the HS10 was more than acceptable.

    The lack of multi-input is a downer for you but on the flip side the fan noise should be a lot quieter than the HS20 and the extermely flexible set up of the 50 is another bonus.

    All I can suggest is a demo at this point and let your eyes do the talking. As you say, I have never seen the 20 to compare but I expect that it is a great, great projector.

    Hope this helps. Oh and where is the 'salted shrimp' :laugh: :laugh:

    Cap :smashin:
     
  7. stripe

    stripe
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    There was a thread a couple of weeks ago by Jules (IIRC) who upgraded his HS20 to a 50, it would be worth a search for you.
     
  8. UrbanT

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    'Drummerjohn' is an HS20 owner, who has demo'd the 50 a couple of times at my house (one visit to establish that 50hz works OK). The last I heard, he was also now upgrading :)
     
  9. juniper

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    Thanks all - will seek out Jules' post - apprecaite your replies.

    Oh and Cap - you don't really want to put salt on shrimp now do you :eek: :D
     
  10. Bristol Pete

    Bristol Pete
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    Well, not wishing to take the HS50 thread off course can I advise you that I refuse to eat anything that -

    1. Looks back at you when you put it in your mouth

    2. Trawls the bottom of the ocean living on fish pooh


    :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

    Thats fair enough isnt it!

    Cap :smashin:
     
  11. zoolap

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    Cap - great review.

    How far is the projector from the screen. What size screen are you using?

    Also do you see any screen door?
     
  12. Bristol Pete

    Bristol Pete
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    The PJ is about 9.5 feet from the screen, situated on a coffee table. There is plenty of scope to zoom in or out too.

    Just over six foot wide.

    In all honesty, no. Occasionally I do but that is only because I know its there. The resolution dictates that most images are free from screen door.

    Hope this helps.

    Cap :smashin:
     
  13. Jules

    Jules
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    Here's a link to my original review of the HS20 v HS50 .

    I've had it a couple of weeks now, and I'd just like to emphasise that the reduced resolution of the HS50 is really not an issue. Don't be put off by the reduced number of pixels. It would appear whatever new method Sony have used to align the pixels seems to help make up the difference in pixel count.

    However, don't be persuaded that the HS50 does a true black... it doesn't.
    But, it is better than the HS20 and makes many more films so much more watchable.

    As others have said though, the HS50 needs a light controleld room or you'll be wasting your money.
     
  14. hebawom

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    A few questions, I'm still undecided about which projector to go for.

    I think the brightness is a concern - can you watch films ok with some soft room lighting?

    I read that the pixels on the Sony where circular instead of the standard square, and therefore there is much more space between pixels - is that true?

    I'll also be projecting from about 9.5 - 10 foot away, but also will be sitting at this distance - will the Sony be OK for this set-up?

    Cheers very much!
     
  15. Jules

    Jules
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    If you examin the pixels at the screen you can see they are rounded, but in my opinion they actually help reduce the visibility of the pixel grid which is not an issue anyway.

    As regards light output. This could be problem for some.
    I use black out blinds and have lutron controlled lighting.
    If I raise the lights to anything more than a very dimm glow, then the HS50's contrast gets sucked out really quickly.

    I've said it before, but you NEED to be able to control the room lighting for the HS50. The HS20 was much more forgiving in this regard, but then it didn't offer the same great contrast ratio.
     
  16. onefivenine

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    Nice review Cap'n.

    I notice that you didn't mention overscan once.

    Ddi you not find it an issue at all? Have you tried DVE or any calibration disks to check it?

    I have to say that overscan is the only thing putting me off choosing the HS50 as my first PJ.
     
  17. Bristol Pete

    Bristol Pete
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    From what I understand, the overscan is only affected if you are driving a 720 image from HDMI, DVI et al.

    Correct me if I am wrong.

    Cap :)
     
  18. Bristol Pete

    Bristol Pete
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    Also, I do concur with Jules on the brightness. I could not really translate what I was thinking in words but it is not as bright as some projectors. Equally, in a darkened room it is not a problem as we have both mentioned.

    Personally, I am more than happy with the black level. I have never bogged myself down with this anyway and combined with my 2900 the black level is acceptable to my eye. I suppose my brief ownership of the NEC HT1000 has made me aware of how black some projectors can be though. Nothing can touch the HT1000/1100 from what I have seen.

    Cap :)
     
  19. William

    William
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    Captain

    The VGA input (Input A) on the HS50 is effectively the replacement for the PJ Multi connection on the HS20/10. It allows connection of component, analogue RGB (eg from Sky box) or a PC. Unfortunately the manual doesn't show the pin connections. This should still allow 2 component connections to the projector as with previous models.

    William
     
  20. abs

    abs
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    hi captain' can you tell me if the power cable is cloverleaf shape as my existing pj has a cloverleaf cable which i have wired to the mains and was hoping to use again..

    by the way, excellent review...have shortlisted the hs50 and sanyo z3 after a demo of the panasonic 700 (not impressed with the VB) the sony was excellent in comaprison to the pana...just need to demo the sanyo before i take the plunge...how much did you pay and from where if you dont mind me asking...thanks
     
  21. UrbanT

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    The HS50 uses a standard kettle lead type plug, and not the figure of 8 type lead :)
     
  22. Bristol Pete

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    No worries. Thanks for the kind words. My review is leyman but easy to read. I hope it helps with your decision.

    The powerlead does indeed appear to be cloverleaf shape.

    It maybe worth demoing the Z3 as I never dismiss a PJ out of hand. Finally, I as in the first paragraph of the review, it was bought at

    www.nexnix.co.uk

    Forum Sponsors, for a touch over £1600.00 + £20.00 for the dead pixel/panel check. They also stock and sell the Z3.

    Hope this helps,

    Captain Benefit :)
     
  23. maj74

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    I don't think the HS-50 is a cloverleaf plug.

    I believe (someone correct me if wrong!) Cloverleaf plugs have 3 rounded sections, (like the double figure of 8 sections of a 2 core plug, but with an extra segment on top.)

    The Hs-50 is, as Urban-T said (I think!) a standard kettle plug, as in the same shape as most PC power cables. This has only straight sides and is an irregular hexagon.


    Hope that's clear....just hope I'm right in interpreting a 'clover-leaf' plug!!
     
  24. UrbanT

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    This is correct, its a standard PC lead type plug, not what I call a Mickey Mouse plug, with the 3 round sockets.

     
  25. Sporran

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    LMAO not a very long one but it is the kettle type lead.
     
  26. HSC

    HSC
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    can you please tell me what kind of screen are you using..?
     
  27. Drew C

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    Is there an easy way to connect a sky box to the vga?
    I'm trying it through a rgb to s-video converter at the mo, but it's a pain having to unplug it from the tv every time. The extra scart on the sky box doesn't seem to output rgb, so won't work with the converter.
     
  28. William

    William
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    Drew

    As you say, you will need to use the TV Scart socket on the Sky box to get RGB. My understanding is that you can buy leads which are Scart to VGA - wired RGBs. I believe that I have seen discussion on a previous thread. I'll try to find a link. Maybe somebody else actually has this working ?.

    William
     
  29. Bristol Pete

    Bristol Pete
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    Drew,

    I actually switched the scart leads around on my set up. Composite scart on my 21" 4:3 Sony trinitron is actually very good and ironically a little more forgiving to picture defects caused by low bit rate - when compared to RGB. Thus, my RGB scart is connected to a component converter then into my Denon 2805 for comp. switching, which is very effective.

    HSC,

    I am currently projecting onto a white wall. Screen not yet fitted as moving shortly. Just a stanard either 1.0 gain or 1.1 white 16:9 screen. Very effective - far better than a wall. It gives the image the punch required.

    Cap :)
     
  30. Drew C

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    Thanks for the advice guys. :smashin:
     

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