Vivitek H1080FD - Review Summary
A summary of the Vivitek H1080FD projector's pros and cons and capabilities.
12/15/09 - Art Feierman
Vivitek H1080FD Projector - The Bottom Line
Let's get something out of the way: I know this projector, and other low cost projectors like this are of great interest, especially to first time home theater projector buyers. For those of you reading through this entire review (or reviews of similar performance projectors), by now, you are probably thinking - "gee, there sure are a lot of things that could be improved."
Let's think about that for a second. The Vivitek H1080FD, along with the Optoma H20 and the BenQ W1000 are the three least expensive 1080p home theater projectors out there. They are ENTRY LEVEL projectors.
That means, by definition, they are compromises. In all cases, the manufacturers make far more expensive projectors, in fact all three companies have models costing 5 to 15 times as much as these $999 projectors.
What I'm trying to get across is that if they were really good at everything, they wouldn't be entry level projectors, and they would cost more.
So, don't take the criticisms too much to heart. When I did my last full movie viewing of the Vivitek H1080FD last night - filling my 128" Firehawk G3 - the Vivitek looked just fine. I had Borne Ultimatum on while writing parts of this review. When I looked up, it looked good. Sure, when it got to really dark scenes, I could tell that the Vivitek is no match for a really good ultra-high contrast projector, but, you know what? Bright scenes looked really nice. the anticipated slight lack of reds really isn't noticeable, and the film exhibits impressive dynamics.
In other words, for those not as jaded as I, and some of the hard core enthusiasts, the primary reaction to the Vivitek the first time should be "wow", it kicks butt.
You want better blacks - that's great, just realize this year, you'll need to spend, say $400 more for a slight improvement, and double the Vivitek's cost for an ultra-high contrast projector that has black performance of a whole other level.
OK, let's get back to the summary:
This is our second review of a $999 projector. Both are single chip DLP's but after that, there's a reasonable amount of difference. One thing I really liked about that "other" projector - the Optoma HD20, was that it was fairly bright.
Well, nevermind, because when brightness is important the Vivitek H1080FD has a distinct advantage over the Optoma! Overall, there are few projectors under $5000 that are as bright. With 800 lumens in "best" mode, only the $500 more Mitsubishi HC3800 and the $1500 more BenQ W6000, can do better.
Compare brightest modest though, The H1080FD blows away the Mitsubishi, with almost 1800 lumens compared to less than 1200. The BenQ and the Vivitek are effectively tie.
You will effectively need to spend 2.5 times as much, for the least expensive home projector that is at least as bright as the Vivitek, in both best, and brightest modes.
Black level performance is not a strength of this projector, its very entry level. If you plan to watch movies at night, and can fully darken your room, there are other projectors at or near the price, that may serve you better at those times, so you have to weigh that against the advantage of having a very bright projector, when you need it.
Color performance is definitely good, not exceptional. This is as as one would expect from the lowest priced 1080p projector around. Our measurements show it to be just a tad cool in color, which means a touch thin on reds. Interestingly, I typically didn't notice at all. This may have to do with Mike punching up the saturation of the red color in the color management system.
Functionality of the projector is very good. Inputs are ample, with two HDMI inputs. The speaker will be a deciding factor for many people not looking for a permanent installation, who might just get to make good use of it. The audio out means you can output any sound routed through to the projector, over HDMI, or input through one of the two audio inputs. That might come in handy if you want more powerful sound while moving it around.
Skin tones really did look pretty good in "best" Movie mode. Many projectors will look a little better in that regard, but few will have a complaint about Movie mode.
The very bottom line:
The Vivitek H1080FD is a low cost projector. It's performance in terms of color handling, black levels, and other other "image performance" areas is about what you would expect from the lowest priced new 1080p projectors. In that regard, the Vivitek is pretty good. It won't satisfy a hard core enthuisast such as myself, but does make a really nice, entry level projector for a first time home theater person
Where the Vivitek really shines (bad pun, sorry), however, is brightness. When you need both bright movie and brightest modes, the Vivitek, so far, is the brightest projector around, short of $2500 (BenQ W6000), and actually one of the brightest overall, even to $5000 and higher.
Captain Pike here (below) really looked good on the bridge of the Enterprise (which looked great!).
That means the Vivitek becomes an excellent choice for a bonus room, or family room, expecially for watching a wide range of content, including movies, TV, HDTV, and definitely sports.
I may come down hard on lower cost projectors, but do keep one thing in mind. A projector like this Vivitek, in most ways, will be higher reslution, and in many ways (like brightness) blow the doors off of those same $3000 - $5000 projectors people like me were buying (and raving about) just 4-5 years ago. Consider the Panasonic PT-AE700, which by my taste was the first really good, mass market home theater projector. This Vivitek is likely just as good in color (or close), probably is 2.5 times brighter, overall, has comparable black levels, is drastically sharper, and so on. And all, for a fraction of the price of a 720p projector just a few years ago.
If a Toyota Prius improved as much in the last 4-5 years, it would probably be averaging 200 miles per gallon, have twice the luggage space, need no servicing for 100,000 miles, etc, and have a much smoother ride. Go figure!
Vivitek H1080FD Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities
Ok, we're just about done. All that's left is this breakout of strengths and weaknesses.
After that, continue your shopping, and, to paraphrase the old Knight in the third Indiana Jones movie: "Choose wisely!"
Vivitek H1080FD Projector: Pros
- Brightest of the low cost 1080p projectors - great for family rooms, bonus rooms, where some light is present
- Good color, very satisfactory for most folks (though definitely not a purist's projector)
- Built in speaker - ideal for quick setup or taking outside, when you don't need "big sound". Speaker does a respectable job, though no low bass
- Perfectly suitable as a portable business projector, with sufficient brightness, sound, other features
- Or as a portable in your home projector, move from family room to outside...
- Two HDMI 1.3 inputs, full support for 24 fps, Deep Color, CEC etc.
- Sharp image - not the sharpest of the DLP projectors, but sharper than many more expensive LCD projectors
- No filters to change, minimizing maintenance
Vivitek H1080FD Projector: Cons
- Black level performance is very basic more typical of 720p projectors than the bulk of 1080p models. Still, its fine for those using in rooms that always have some light
- Limited placement flexibility, and no lens shift (typical DLP projector)
- Fan noise is louder than average, but typical of the smaller DLP projectors. In that regard it's far from the noisiest
- In brightest mode, image noise becomes a bit noticeable, as Brilliant Color type features are engaged
- No support for an anamorphic lens
- Warranty - one year - too short for my taste, but typical of most lower cost 1080p projectors, although a few under $2000 models have 2 year warranties
Vivitek H1080FD Projector: Typical Capabilities
- Lamp life (2000/3000 hours (full/low power)
- Size, weight and styling
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