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Sony VPL-PX41 review: Sony VPL-PX41

CEOs will appreciate the PX41's stylish design, while CIOs will love its network-enabled remote monitoring capability, and probably everyone will enjoy its skill at handling fast-action video. But in most other respects, this relatively pricey projector is a middle-of-the-road performer.

Rich Malloy
3 min read
Sony VPL-PX41: boardroom style and networking

The Sony VPL-PX41 projector makes a stylish and networkable addition to any conference room, and though it displays smooth video and accurate colors, its lack of brightness and high $6,150 price detract from its overall appeal. Most users will be better served by the less expensive and far more portable Dell 5100MP.


Sony VPL-PX41

The Good

Stylish design; built-in networking capabilities; smooth video performance; accurate colors; full assortment of connections.

The Bad

Relatively heavy for its output; inconvenient location of control panel; little support available; low brightness for its size.

The Bottom Line

The Sony VPL-PX41 projector features built-in networking and excellent video capabilities, but it is expensive and otherwise undistinguished.

As is the case with many network-ready projectors, the 17.3-pound Sony VPL-PX41 isn't built with travel in mind. The white-and-gray body measures 16.6 inches wide by 12.5 inches deep and 5 inches high and could pass for a small suitcase; it even has a foldout handle. It's more likely, however, to be lugged from conference room to conference room than carried coast to coast. If portability is important, the 8-pound Dell 5100MP is a more viable option.

Underneath the stylish plastic casing is a trio of three relatively large 0.99-inch LCD imaging panels. As with most high-end projectors, the VPL-PX41 has native XGA resolution but can also accept additional resolutions ranging up to UXGA. It's capable of putting a 25-foot image onscreen.

Though it lacks motorized focus, lens tilt, and zoom capabilities, making adjustments on the VPL-PX41 is fairly easy. It features a manual 1.3X optical zoom; the manual zoom and focus rings both surround the lens, allowing little finger room for adjustments. Most projectors place the menu control buttons on top for easy access, but Sony puts the VPL-PX41's control panel on the left side near the connectors. This set of 12 small buttons includes one for navigating the projector's onscreen menu--a task impeded by this unorthodox location. Most users will no doubt opt instead for the remote control, which features all the menu control buttons, including a prominent set for managing a PowerPoint slide show.

Sony includes the standard RGB, S-Video, composite video, and stereo audio RCA jacks. But, you'll also find a second RGB jack, in addition to a DVI connection, a set of five BNC video coaxial connectors, and three audio jacks. Like the Dell 5100MP and the Hitachi CP-X443, the VPL-PX41 has networking circuitry built in. Once you attach a network cable to this model's RJ-45 jack, it can be monitored and controlled from any network computer. Unfortunately, the VPL-PX41 also shares the Hitachi's and Dell's inability to display images or presentations over a network like the Sanyo PLC-XP56 and the Canon LV-7565 can, but it can alert distant IT staffers of certain problems, such as overheating or a blown lamp.

In our tests, the Sony VPL-PX41 was a middle-of-the-road performer. We were unimpressed with its brightness performance of only 3,285 ANSI lumens; the similarly sized Canon LV-7565 and Sanyo PLC-XP56 pump out more than a thousand lumens more. The Sony VPL-PX41's contrast ratio of 304:1, however, is good enough for lights-on presentations. The projector can resolve 246 out of 255 possible grayscale levels, and in our color tests, the blues and reds were accurate, and greens shifted only slightly to yellow. Its white balance was an almost perfect 6,400K. In our DVD tests, we were especially impressed with this projector's ability to keep up with live-action video--there was not a hint of jerkiness.

The VPL-PX41 turned in slow times in our in our warm-up/cooldown tests. It required an acceptable 46 seconds to start up, but its slothlike cooldown time stretched to 2 minutes, 10 seconds--almost a minute longer than the sprightly Hitachi CP-X443. Like most LCD projectors, the VPL-PX41 uses an air filter, which must be cleaned or replaced approximately every 1,500 hours of use. This model's $500 lamp is expected to last 3,000 hours in standard or low-power mode and 2,000 hours in high-power mode.

The Sony VPL-PX41 comes with an industry-standard three-year warranty, but like its competitors, the lamp is warranted for only 90 days. For service, Sony depends primarily on its network of service centers and pro A/V resellers. Online support for business-oriented projectors such as the VPL-PX41 is difficult to find, but the site does offer live chat, e-mail, and general customer service contact information.


Sony VPL-PX41

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 6Support 4