Vivitek H5080 Projector Review

A summary of the Vivitek H5080 projector’s pros and cons and general capabilities.

Vivitek H5080 Projector - The Bottom Line

Long before I spent some time with Vivitek’s H5080 home theater projector, I had been enthusiastic enough about Optoma’s similar HD8600 to give it a Hot Product Award, despite the overly visible iris action (in certain situations). With that in mind, it should be no surprise that the Vivitek H5080 also receives a Hot Product Award, afterall, it’s more similar, than different to the Optoma, but sells for less than half the price!

I’m rainbow sensitive and with the Vivitek, rainbows were not an issue for me, over about 50 hours of viewing. Oh, I could spot them on the right types of scenes if I’m walking around, etc., but almost never, when just watching a movie.

The H5080 projector has that DLP look and feel.

Color handling and skin tones are excellent! Post calibration, the H5080 has some first class skin tones.

The Vivitek’s image is very sharp, as we expected from good DLP projectors. It apparently uses the same lenses as the Optoma, so this is familiar turf. No question about it, the H5080 will put a nice sharper looking image up on the screen, than, say, any of the LCoS (JVC, Sony, Canon), or LCD projectors (Epson, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Sanyo, etc.), though in some cases, not by much.

OK, so far, we have a sharp projector with excellent color. Now add to that especially good brightness, and, thanks to interchangeable lenses, really good placement flexibility, especially for a DLP projector!!!

Brightness:

To summarize brightness: Want to watch a movie? With the best image quality your projector can put on the screen? We call that “best mode” and this Vivitek projector is one of the brightest we’ve reviewed in best mode. The H5080 outputs just over 1200 lumens once we calibrated it. The average home theater projector out there in its brightest mode, does less than that. The Vivitek doesn’t get much brighter when switching to its brightest mode, so there are a number of projectors that can surpass it when you need every last lumen. That said, very few are significantly brighter.

The image above, is a very good image for viewing black level performance. There are sufficient bright areas, that most projectors with dynamic irises won’t close them down too far. As a result, it’s a good indicator of how the Optoma performs on “mixed scenes – mostly dark but with moderate amounts of brighter areas.

Fancy features:

The Vivitek H5080 is reasonably well endowed with fancy features. It has, dynamic features, including Dynamic Black – to enhance dark scenes. it’s got CFI for some types of source material, but foolishly it doesn’t work with 60fps content, which of course is most HDTV, and almost all sports on HDTV…

And of course, interchangeable lenses. True, the combined range of the standard, and the telephoto lenses are about the same as the wide-range zoom lenses out there. But there are advantages to limited range zooms – they’re brighter and it’s easier to produce a sharp quality optic. If you want to mount really close there’s a wide angle fixed lens.

No matter which lens you need, you start off with the projector with the standard lens. There’s no way to buy the projector without lens… The additional cost of the long throw lens is $2,299 MSRP. It is a 1.93 – 2.89:1 ratio lens. The fixed wide angle lens, is $1499. It’s ratio is 0.77:1

The very bottom line

Surprise! We have another serious contender. While I liked Vivitek’s H1080FD, an $899 “cross-over” 1080p projector, its this H5080 that establishes Vivitek as having a serious product at a reasonable price.

The BenQ W6000 has been my favorite DLP in the price range, since I first reviewed it. It’s nice to see some serious competition. The Vivitek won’t match the best blacks of the W6000, but for those not hooked on black levels, it’s sure got a lot of other stuff going for it. Both are similarly bright, with high wattage, lamps in the upper 300 watt range. (most home theater projectors have lamps between 160 and 260 watts.

I truly wish I had the W6000 here for a side by side comparison. I’ve spent time staring at my W6000 images, and concluded that the W6000 will have the advantage whenever the dynamic iris can make a real difference (dark scenes).

I do find the Vivitek image to be more forgiving than the W6000.

In the case of the Vivitek, the dynamic iris is very smooth. I watched using mostly Cinema 2 setting, which seemed to provide slightly more contrast and a tad darker blacks.

Image from a Blu-ray disc promo – color is tricked out – over the top, but looks cool.

To sum it up, the Vivitek H5080 is a sub-$3000 projector, that is especially bright, has great color, and a dynamic look and feel. It’s also a tad sharper than most of the similarly priced competition, which are 3LCD or LCoS projectors. If you are a bit forgiving in terms of black level performance, then the Vivitek (which just makes my “ultra-high contrast” projector list), should be pretty close to the top of your shopping list, if not at the top. There’s plenty of competition for this Vivitek, including entries from Epson, Mitsubishi,

For those of us who seek great black level performance, this projector can still be tempting, especially in the right room, paired with the right (probably high contrast gray) screen.

Vivitek H5080 Projector: Pros

  • One of the brightest home theater projectors we’ve reviewed in the last year
  • Very sharp image (typical of a good DLP projector with good quality optics), with a slightly sharper overall image than any of the LCD or LCoS projectors
  • Excellent color, post calibration, especially skin tones which tend to almost always look really correct
  • Good, but hardly exceptional color accuracy right out of the box
  • A light canon in best mode
  • Minimal rainbow effect (RBE). I’m sensitive, and rarely noticed it at all. As good as any other DLP projector I’ve encountered, in this regard. At this level I no longer consider RBE to be a factor, unless someone’s a lot more sensitive than I am
  • Manual iris allows you to dial down brightness for smaller screen, which in turn increases contrast and black level performance slightly (if not using the auto iris)
  • Very good shadow detail performance
  • Black level performance is good, borderline ultra high contrast
  • Three HDMI 1.3b inputs – one more than most, full support for 24 fps, Deep Color, CEC, etc.
  • Offers creative frame interpolation with some types of source material
  • Good layout on the remote control, and a very good backlight with easily readable buttons
  • Very good placement flexibility due to choice of three lenses – standard and long zooms, and an extremely short throw fixed lens. Good, though not exceptional lens shift range
  • Two screen triggers, support for anamorphic lens
  • Very good menus
  • Warranty is definitely better than most
  • A serious competitor, to say the least, and, for those particularly fond of DLP’s: The best combination of brightness, black levels and color accuracy of any DLP reviewed in the last year and change

Vivitek H5080 Projector: Cons

  • One of the noisier projectors out there. They say 28 db and 33 db (in low and high power). I believe them, and those aren’t impressive numbers
  • CFI – Creative frame interpolation: does not work with 1080 60fps, which means most broadcast HDTV sports, which is too bad
  • Watching movies with CFI on: As with most projectors sporting CFI, it creates a live digital video (or “soap opera”) look to the image, as is typical. The low setting does seem to have a bit more of that effect than some of the competition. Most projector people do not use CFI for movies, even if they have a projector with a particularly good CFI
  • Documentation – not really bad, but lacks some detail. Len shift section could be better (but if I recall the Optoma HD8600′s section from memory correctly, Vivitek has done the better job of the two. You’ll also find acronyms that make little sense to most people, but probably made sense to the engineers who designed it.
  • Supports only one of two anamorphic modes (sled required) While this is how most projectors handle, we are starting to see projectors supporting use of an anamorphic lens, with standard 4:3 and 16:9 content properly displayed while anamorphic lens is in place.
  • Exhaust vents out the back. No doubt limits how close the projector can be placed to a back wall, when shelf mounting – be careful.

Vivitek H5080 Projector: Typical Capabilities

  • Documentation – overall
  • Just average lamp life – 2000 hours in High lamp power mode, 3000 in low (eco) power
  • Styling: Black, rectangular with rounded edges – not bad, not impressive
  • Lamp can be changed without unmounting the projector

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