Vivitek H9090 Projector - Out of the Box Picture Quality
We did not do a calibration of this projector - as my understanding is that the color tables were likely to still change before the H9090 goes to full production. Consider all the images shown, unless otherwise noted, to be using default settings, "right out of the box."
Out of the box - default settings - 6500K color temp, this is an image of Scarlett Johansson from Lucy
Overall, color is pretty darn good, although definitely not right on the money. I'd say this unit is a trifle "cooler" than the 6500K setting would indicate, so a touch thin on reds. There's also a slight shift to yellow - brown, which you can spot in some of the many images showing skin tones. With a proper calibration, this projector should be pretty much "dead on the money," as it has all the necessary controls to be properly calibrated, and it's starting closer to where it should be than many other projectors, pre calibration! Still, I'd say the typical projector with a THX mode is a bit better balanced in that mode.
In the slider above are a number of the usual photos I take of movies and HDTV to illustrate skin tone accuracy and naturalness. All of these are using the "default" settings, unless there are two of the same image. In those cases, the second one was reshot after I "eyeballed" some changes to the CMS settings to try to improve the picture. It's a rough adjustment, no match for a proper calibration, and it really doesn't address the color temp (grayscale balance), which I did not adjust.
Again, in the bulk of these, you can see they are a little bit off with that slight yellow brown shift, that said, some images of faces look great anyway - such as Jennifer Lawrence in those Hunger Games photos.
There is no reason to expect anything less than excellent skin tones post calibration.
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H9090 Black Level Performance
Above are a number of dark scene images to show off the black level performance. These were taken with Dynamic Black engaged (like a dynamic iris, but using LED light engine dimming), at a setting of 8X. Using the Max setting would produce the same results (except of course on a black frame, which would be fully black since the LED light engine would be off. A setting of 4X would show smaller difference in black levels between brighter scenes and very dark ones. That is, 4X doesn't "lower the floor" as much.
The H9090 exhibits the best black level performance on very dark scenes of any single chip DLP projector reviewed in quite some time, but then it's a lot more expensive than most.
The Casino Royale Bond night train scene has, as always, been converted to grayscale for easier comparison. The first one in the player is the H9090, followed, in order, by: The JVC DLA-RS6710 ($12,499), the Epson LS10000 ($7999), Sony VPL-VW350ES, the least expensive Sony that is true 4K resolution ($9999). Then comes our "reference" the Epson HC5030UB/PC6030UB, which at $2299 has the best black level performance at that price point, better than many far more expensive projectors. That's followed by the JVC DLA-RS4910 ($5499), BenQ's W7500 ($2500+), which has the best black levels of the lower cost DLP projectors, Sony's VPL-HW55ES ($3999 bundle) - their mainstream 1080p home theater projector, and finally, to give you some idea of how the Vivitek compares with a true low cost projector, the BenQ HT1075, which is under $1000.
Keep in mind that while these images from different projectors can tell you something, our opinions are based on watching the projector on lots of different content. With dynamic irises, Dynamic Black, projectors with different native contrast and dynamic range, no one image reveals the answer. In some cases, for example, on the Bond train, there is a significant difference between some of the projectors in terms of dark shadow detail, but on a slightly brighter scene, that could change signficantly.
From a viewing standpoint, the Vivitek performs extremely well for a DLP in this regard. While no match for the JVCs and not quite up to the LS10000 either, its black level performance on the darkest scenes is better than the Epson Home Cinema 5030UB, we we use as the base standard for having good enough black level performance - that other factors start becoming more important than further black level improvements. Like the LS10000 it has the option of doing true black, black frames, by shutting down the light engine. (I have told Epson that they should have a "dynamic black" type of lamp dimming in the LS10000, similar to the Vivitek's). Maybe in their next generation.
I'd describe the H9090 as having slightly darker, but more inky looking blacks than that Epson 5030UB, although the LS10000 easily surpasses the Vivitek and the less expensive Epson. The two Sony's here offer respectable blacks (close to the 5030UB) but not quite as good as the Vivitek. The low cost BenQ HT1075, typical of low cost projectors, by comparison has little dynamic range, and the image looks dull and lacking in "pop" by comparison to the Vivitek, or any of the others. The BenQ W7500, long a favorite medium cost DLP, by comparison, comes up short of the 5030UB, so definitely cannot match the H9090.
For what's available in DLP projectors for home theater, and in the $10,000 and under range, this would seem to be as good as black levels get, even if a few LCoS projectors are easily, visibly better...