Vivitek H1080FD Projector Review

The Vivitek H1080FD images below are all from either Blu-ray or HDTV, with the exception of Lord of the Rings (standard DVD). Note: By the time these Vivitek H1080FD projector images get to your eyeball, through digital camera, software, browsers, and monitor, there is definitely color shifting, saturation differences, etc. The images are to support the commentary, but keep in mind the limitations when trying to compare images from the H1080FD with other home theater projectors. None are faithful reproductions of the colors that you see, when projecting on a screen.

Remember also, that the projectors themselves look far better than what you see in these photos. Intentionally overexposed images to show shadow detail and black level performance, on the other hand, are very good at showing differences between the Vivitek H1080FD and other home theater projectors.

H1080FD Out of the Box Picture Quality

The out of the box color is pretty good, which is a very good thing, since the Vivtek lacks the tradtional R,G,B brightness and contrast controls for doing a grayscale balance. (There is a color management system, however.)

The image to the right (digital image from the DVE-HD test disk) with the Vivitek H1080FD projector was taken post calibration:

Click Image to Enlarge

Of note, the projector’s brightest mode, aptly named Bright mode exhibits a bit too much green. This is common because it will help cut through ambient light.

Then, a good deal less bright is Normal mode, which has better color. Movie is the best mode, for our discussion purposes. Overall, very watchable in all three modes.

Vivitek H1080FD Projector - Flesh Tones

Skin tones are very good. There is a very slight, almost paleness to faces like Gandalf’s below, due to the touch less red than there should be. When viewing, the projector doesn’t really feel like it’s a little thin on red, as the image has a good bit of contrast, and a lot of punch.

OK, sufficiently impressed? I spent a lot of time watching movies and sports on the Vivitek H1080FD, and found the picture pleasing, overall, with my only serious complaint being the black level performance, which we’ll tackle next.

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Vivitek H1080FD Projector - Flesh Tone Slideshow

Gandalf from Lord of the Rings

Arwen from Lord of the Rings

Bond

Two from Aeon Flux

Men In Black

From the DVE-HD calibration disc

From Quantum of Solace (Bond)

H1080FD Black Level Performance

Ahh, we come to the Achilles heel of the H1080FD projector. The blacks are just not that black. Even the Optoma HD20, the other $999 projector, does visibly (though not greatly), better. I can do a decent job on very dark scenes, but never a great one. Still on scenes that are primarily dark but with some bright spots, such as the night cityscape below, the projector looks pretty darn good.

The pair of photos below, have the Vivitek H1080FD projector first, and the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB (best blacks under $3500 street price) below it. This is about as big a difference as you will find, yet, you can see that the H1080FD can handle a nice dark scene with some bright areas, rather decently.

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H1080FD Black Level Performance Slideshow

From The Dark Knight:

Vivitek H1080FD projector

Epson Home Cinema 6500UB

Here’s three: H1080FD first, Optoma HD20 second, Epson third – this is an intentionally well overexposed image, from Space Cowboys. Here you can see the significant difference between the Vivitek or the Optoma, compared to the Epson, (but do you have an extra $1500?:

H1080FD
Optoma HD20
Epson
H1080FD
+Optoma HD20

The next image is “our” Starship image from The Fifth Element.

Same image, overexposed, and with letterbox to better see black level performance, which even without overexposing significantly, you can now see the “gray” of the letterbox area:

H1080FD
Optoma HD20
Sharp XV-Z15000
Epson Home Cinema 8100
Sanyo PLV-Z700
BenQ W6000
Mitsubishi HC3800
Panasonic PT-AE4000
Epson Home Cinema 8500UB
H1080FD
+Optoma HD20

Consider two additional (digital) images which are good ones for observing black levels.

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