Projector Reviews

Vivitek H9090 Home Theater Projector – Picture Quality 2

VIVITEK H9090 PROJECTOR – PICTURE QUALITY:  HDTV and Sports, Dark Shadow Detail, Overall Picture Quality

Other than that brief scare relating to problems with interlacing, which turned out to be a temporary problem with a particular DirecTV channel I was watching, HDTV viewing was pretty darn good, without any image processing artifacts worth mentioning.

Sports viewing was really good, and very sharp, as the projector itself produces a very sharp image. While fancy competitors offer “panel adjustment” to digitally align their three panel’s color images, the Vivitek has no need for that.  As to the fancy dynamic sharpness/detail enhancement on other projectors, that can be very good “stuff”, but to some degree, those projectors are playing catchup because of the no alignment issues to begin with.

That is, using such features on an LCoS or 3LCD projector gives you a perceived sharper looking image than without, but in some cases, they are simply making up for those projectors inherent alignment issue.  If I have complaints with the HDTV viewing it would be these things, not directly related to “picture quality”: I don’t watch sports in the dark, so more lumens would have been nice.  For my viewing with this projector, I still didn’t watch sports in the dark, but let a bit less light into the room than I would with a projector with an extra 500 to 1000 lumens to work with.

CFI – aka “smooth motion” aka creative frame interpolation is absent. That’s unfortunate, but hardly a deal breaker. I tend to use CFI on a low to normal setting on most projectors just for sports, and not even always then.  I don’t use CFI for anything else, especially not movies.

Other content watched (typically in a darker setting), was impressive.  I found the projector to offer a lot of depth to the image.  Call it a good DLP thing, but there were times I noticed!

Colbert!  The last night before I boxed up the projector, while I was writing up part of this review, I decided to check out Colbert’s new show, and caught the last 15 minutes.

Folks, I was blown away.  I watch a lot of Jimmy Fallon, and hadn’t yet gotten around to Colbert.  I’m never really thrilled with the Tonight Show’s color overall.  Well, the color on Colbert may have been a bit better, but that studio set produced a “knock your socks off” picture, that caused me to pause.  I was actually dazzled.  I thought I’d take some last minute images (not that they ever do full justice to a good projector), so went to record.  Sorry two other shows already recording.  That was that.

But it was the best looking late night show, projector viewing experience I can recall.  Great depth, great pop.  Wow!

The recording I have of Amy Winehouse shot in that great theater, was another example of the Vivitek just looking awesome.

And that stuff in part convinced me that this projector really was truly superior at picture quality to the usual DLP suspects I get to review.


Dark Shadow Detail

Dark Shadow Detail was very good, but not the very best.  By my taste, close enough.  I did adjust the Brightness just slightly to get the most dark shadow detail out of the projector without increasing black levels.

Here are a few of the usual images we like to use to observe the detail. Almost all of the shrubs, and details in the darkest part of the forest on the right are present, but not every last one.  Same for the intentionally overexposed photo of Katniss and Rue sleeping in Hunger Games.

At no point did I observe there to be enough missing to create a flat mono black area where there should have been sight detail showing.  Bottom line: Fine, but not perfect.

H9090 Overall Picture Quality

I was curious.  Just yesterday – about a week after returning the Vivitek, I had a thought – while the Vivitek was here, the best other projector available in my theater and testing room (out of five) was the Epson 5030UB.  For pure 2D movie viewing, I’ll take the Vivitek every time.  For lights on or modest ambient light viewing, especially my Sunday Ticket – 8 NFL games at once when I max out the image size in my theater (overshooting my 124″ screen) I prefer the ability of the Epson to double the brightness.

What I wanted was to have something higher end to look at.  No Epson LS10000 nor the current JVCs or Sonys.  So, I dragged upstairs my old JVC RS20, which I should have sold years ago, but haven’t gotten around to doing.  Like the Vivitek – no 3D, it’s not even quite as bright, but its black levels still beat most projectors (easily the Epson 5030UB).

So, (too bad I didn’t think of this when the Vivitek was here), last night after Thursday Night Football, I switched to some movie viewing on the JVC.

The bottom line.  Like the JVC, the Vivitek H9090 is at its best as a “purist” dedicated home theater projector – for movie viewing.  That’s where both “shine.”  My old JVC still bests the Vivitek at blacks, but both gave that feel of inky blacks on dark scenes, and the Vivitek definitely had more sharpness related depth to the picture.

I love that there’s no real RBE – rainbow effect, although there is some barely detectable RGB artifacts if I shake my head on the right scene.  I suspect those are the reason, BTW, that this Vivitek is the very first projector that I have been unable to get a smooth video of using my rather excellent Canon dSLR.  Despite the lack of rainbows, and the pop, the great handling of darker scenes – that “DLP look and feel,” I don’t expect I will all of a sudden go back to a DLP like this one, but if I were to, this one is probably the ticket.  I personally love my 3D, I like having a hefty amount of brightness with still good, but not excellent color.

Still, the Vivitek H9090 has a picture that impresses me.  My opinion of it improved as I racked up more and more of the almost 80 hours of viewing.  (You can’t watch that much of just movies, you know, not in any reasonable time frame, anyway.)

There were just a lot of times where it really did wow me.  Few projectors get to do that, as I tend to be a bit jaded considering all the projectors I view.  I mentioned Colbert, and the natural sharpness of sports, as two. The overall rich dark colors and depth that are associated with really good DLP projectors, is where the H9090 shines.  On bright scenes you still get the sharpness, but I’m often used to more brightness, especially with ambient light intentionally present.

If I were a purist only watching movies in a dedicated theater, didn’t care about the frills, I would certainly put it on the short list.