Vivitek H9080FD Projector Review
A detailed review of the Vivitek H9080FD 1080p home theater projector.
August 2009 - Art Feierman
Vivitek H9080FD Projector Overview
Before we get started with the review of the Vivitek H9080FD home theater projector, I need to comment about the photos posted in this review. I'll also go into the issue in further detail in the Image Quality page.
Here's the scoop: Whether the H9080FD or any other home theater projector, I always remind our readers that they need to take the photos provided with a grain - no, maybe a pound, of salt. In other words, the photos taken normally give a good, but not a great idea of what the projected image looks like on the screen.
For example, 3LCD projectors tend to look like they have stronger greens in the photos, than in reality. Typical DLP's and LCoS projectors also tend to be off, with LCoS similar to 3LCD, and DLP having far less shift to green.
This Vivitek though, uses an LED light source, and the photos for this shoot came out nothing short of horrible, with the same camera settings I use for all reviews.
The bottom line, is that there is way, way, too much red in all the Vivitek H9080FD images (or too little green and some blue). For about 2/3 of the images, I even readjusted the camera, and also tweaked the tint. The result was definitely, considerably better, but still (compared to images in other reviews) rather bad. (More on this later.)
OK, let's begin our overview of the LED powered H9080FD home theater projector:
The Vivitek H9080FD is an expensive home theater projector, by almost all measures (except when comparing to 3 chip DLP home theater projectors). With a $14,999 MAP price, it is almost twice as expensive as our top rated projector (under $10,000), the JVC DLA-RS20 and it's twin, the HD750.
The thing that makes the Vivitek projector expensive, and essentially unique is that it is one of the very first home theater projectors with an LED light source, instead of a conventional lamp., This immediately provides two advantages: First, no lamps to change, second, the projector maintains brightness. Both are discussed below, in the Special Features section. Oops, one more advantage. Since the LEDs can cycle, there's no need for a color filter wheel with this single chip DLP projector, and therefore, no rainbow effect for those bothered by such things.
The LED light source definitely makes a difference. I'm seeing color intensity in some cases that other excellent projectors can't quite match. This is generally a very good thing, but only one factor in the Vivitek projector's image quality.
Physically, the H9080FD is a tank. It's big, it's heavy, and has solid construction. The H9080 has a good amount of lens shift adjustment, a rarity among DLP home theater projectors. It's 1.3:1 zoom lens provides just a little more placement flexibility than most DLP's and less than almost all 3LCD and LCoS projectors. Still, the Vivitek can be shelf mounted, and it's longer than average lens throw, should allow the projector to work on a shelf on the back wall of most rooms. There's an optional shorter throw zoom, for those that want to mount closer.
The Vivitek H9080 is not one of the brighter projectors out there, and will serve you best in a dedicated home theater. Because it's barely brighter in its brightest mode, than it's best, it doesn't have those extra lumens for allowing a lot of ambient light if you want to watch that football game with the "boys". Still, when viewing at 90 inches diagonal it did fine for my HDTV sports viewing, with a decent amount of controlled lighting.
H9080FD Projector Highlights
- Extremely impressive color, with very intense, yet not over the top, bright colors
- Very good shadow detail
- Black level performance is very good, but typical for "ultra-high" contrast projectors, not up to the best ones out there (like the JVC RS20)
- Limited brightness 400 - 500+ lumens depending on settings
- LED light source - 20,000 hours (lower cost of operation), and it maintains brightness, while conventional lamps typically lose 50% brightness by end of life (2000 - 4000 hours).
- No rainbow effect - for those sensitive to traditional single chip DLP projectors, due to no color filter wheel
- 1.3:1 zoom lens is longer throw than most DLP projectors, which combined with lens shift, makes the Vivitek usable in a rear shelf mount, in most people's rooms, and a possible shorter throw zoom may become available
- Overall, very impressive picture quality - excellent
- A larger, and heavier projector, than almost anything not 3 chip DLP
- Expensive - at $14,999 MAP pricing you are paying for the novelty of new technology in the form of an LED light source. Of course if you keep it for, say 10 years, you might just save $5000 in lamp costs if you are a heavy viewer, but for almost all, pricing will not be the reason for purchasing this Vivitek projector
Projector Specs for the Vivitek H9080FD
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)
Brightness: 800 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.3:1 (manual)
Lens shift: Vertical and Horizontal (manual)
Lamp life: This projector is one of the very first with an LED light source. Rated 20,000 hour life instead of the usual 2000 - 4000 hours for conventional lamps
Weight: 36.6 lbs. (16.6 Kg)
Warranty: 3 Year Parts and Labor
Click here: Vivitek H9080FD for more complete specs and brochure.
H9080FD Projector - Special Features
LED Light source
Above, I mentioned two benefits to the Vivitek projector using an LED light source:
Far longer life (and far lower operational costs), and secondly, no loss of brightness over the life of the light source.
Long life: Instead of getting 2000 - 4000 hours off of a lamp, the Vivitek H9080FD with its LED light source is rated 20,000 hours. Thus, if you are a moderately heavy user (25 hours a week), the light source would last you about 18 years, instead of typically from less than two, to 3.5 years. With lamps for expensive projectors typically being $400 to $1000, that can save a bundle over a long life. For a heavy user (40 hours a week), the savings in lamp costs could be $500 a year or more.
The brightness aspect is also very important. I realize I'm one of the few reviewers that focuses a lot of attention on projector brightness. Most people, putting in a home theater projector tend to end up with just enough brightness to do a good job. That's great, but with normal lamps, the projector is going to lose about 50% of its brightness by the time the lamp is due for replacement. As a result, towards the end, many people are finding their projected image to be a bit dim by that time. A projector capable of, say 700 lumens with a new lamp, might only have 500 lumens by the time their 2000 hour lamp reaches 1250 hours.
The point here, is that while the Vivitek doesn't measure particularly bright (about 400 lumens in best mode), it will still be cranking out those four hundred lumens for the duration. Another projector, with 700 lumens, when the lamp is down to its last few hundred hours life, likely wouldn't be as bright as the Vivitek. For this reason, many folks with larger screens replace their lamps more frequently than they need to from a life expectancy standpoint, to get more brightness.
In general, it is said that LED light sources have a larger color gamut, which should allow for even better color. This may well be true, but, at the moment, we are working with standards. Until we see a new one, designed to take advantage of what the LED light source can "bring to the party", the benefits are partially questionable. Yes you might be able to get a more intense red, for example, but, it just might be "over the top" because the content doesn't have the color tables to take advantage of it. More on this, as well, later in the review.
Color Management System (CMS)
NOTE: for grayscale balance, the Vivitek supports adjustment of brightness/contrast for primary AND secondary colors. It's been quite some time since I've encountered any projector that allows grayscale balancing using more than the primaries. Mike did the calibration, but limited his grayscale balance to the primaries.
Heads up: The image below is from the Stargaze HD Blu-Ray DVD. Some really spectacular imagery on this disc, for those with an interest in astronomy. The really intense primary colors (thanks to the LED light source?), really makes the astronomy images in this review, look spectacular on the screen in my theater.