Vivitek H1080FD Projector Review

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.

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