Picture Quality Summary
Picture quality is classic DLP. I like the H9090 projector on bright and medium bright scenes, but it particularly stands out in its handling on darker and very dark scenes. I find on those less than bright scenes colors really pop, without the pictures - even on skin tones - seeming over saturated - without seeming "over the top." That folks, is the best I can describe the DLP "look and feel."
Since this is an engineering sample, and the color tables not yet finalized, I did not have it calibrated. Color was off a bit with extra brown yellow, which can be seen in some skin tones. I would expect it to be slightly better, right out of the box on the final production units, and regardless, most people buying a projector in this price range will have it calibrated, for near perfect color. No reason to expect otherwise with the Vivitek. It's got all the controls to do a great calibration.
Upon changing the channels from my DirecTV, one night I switched to the new Colbert show. It definitely was more stunning, than I am used to from the quality of late night TV. I tried Fallen instead - I watch a lot. again, it stood out, but as stated, I don't find care for the final color balance (aka production qualities) of that show as much.
On movies the Vivitek projector produced high quality black level performance. Not the best, but at least competitive. This unit definitely does better than any of the lower cost DLPs to pass through here in the past year or two, but not up to the JVCs or the Epson laser projectors, or Sony's flagship 4K projector (which at $28K, we won't worry about). The projector uses Dynamic Black - "lamp" or in this case LED light engine" dimming, instead of a dynamic iris.
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This is an area where the H9090 needs some improvement before final units ship, and I've told them. Ok, their Dynamic Black implementation rivals the best I've seen from Optoma, but I complain a bit about theirs, too. There are times the stepping of brightness is a little too noticeable, but with some adjustments to the algorithm, they should be able to make it more acceptable. To me further improvement even if slight, is the most important thing Vivitek can do, in improving the H9090 from engineering sample to final production!!!
Sharpness was very good, what one would expect from a single chip device with no need for panel alignment like the competition. No fancy detail/sharpness enhancement features, but those others start out playing catch up, anyway.
Overall, the Vivitek is not my first choice, or third in over $5000 projectors but it will have strong appeal to those favoring that elusive DLP look and feel!
H9090 Features, And Brightness
For a change of pace I'm combining these two, because the brightness of the H9090 has definitely impacted the feature set.
This is a 1000 lumen projector that measured just a smidgeon more than claimed. That was with Brilliant Color on. I mentioned that this projector looks better with Brilliant Color off, and there is a definite color shift. With a proper calibration the final H9090's may be great with BC on, as well as when off.
If that's still not the case, then you've got about 800 lumens to work with with BC off. That's plenty for even a typical 130" diagonal screen in a dedicated home theater or cave type environment. This projector just isn't designed for family rooms, or even a media room with lighter colored walls. If that's your world, I'd recommend looking elsewhere. In fairness, if you are keeping screen size to 100" or go with a higher gain than typical screen, you definitely will have some leeway.
The Vivitek can handle some ambient light for, perhaps, sports viewing, but I see this as best as a projector for viewing movies in the dark room environment.
Which brings me to how that relates to features.
Vivitek passed on giving the H9090 3D. Their argument for that is a good one. The projector really isn't bright enough, to fill anything close to a 100" screen for 3D and not have a dim image. Remember you need about 3X the lumens in 3D to have comparable brightness for 2D, which is why so many 3D updates to older projectors have had brightness jumped from say 700 lumens (very popular before 3D) to 1500 lumens plus, which we used to call "light canons."
I can live with that. I do wish that the projector had CFI - smooth motion - at least for sports, but then, I am recommending this projector for the hard core movie viewer, who cares little, or not at all about sports and sitcom viewing.
If there is one feature that I really felt the H9090 should have, it would have been Lens Memory, but that requires motorized lenses, which the H9090 does not have (but it does offer 4 different lenses, so can be placed over a range of distance that almost no competitors can approach.)
Lens memory would seem a natural feature for a movies first, or movies only owner. But, do not despair. You can use the H9090 with an anamorphic lens. If you use anamorphic lens and motorized sled, the sled can be controlled by one of the 12 volt "screen" trigger. If you therefore want to go with a 2.35:1 or 2.40:1 "Cinemascope" shaped screen, that will up your total cost by a couple thousand dollars or more. I think it would be great next week at CEDIA if they show the Vivitek in a widescreen setup - thus keeping its focus as a "movie first" projector.
Vivitek H9090 Value Proposition
As a movies first and foremost projector I do believe the H9090 does have a respectable value proposition. It will be doing battle with a number of projectors, including the higher end JVCs and Epsons, and the 4K Sonys. Then there are other single chip DLP projectors, but we haven't been able to lay our hands on the moderate to lower cost DLP's from SIM2 or Runco, in quite some time. Those two brands are "high end," sold by high end local dealers, and should have cut above support programs, etc., but generally most of those still cost a good deal more. The Optoma HD91 (another LED), but last I looked those guys still have some 720p projectors that cost more than this. Hmm.
If - and this is a big point - Vivitek can improve the "iris action" their LED lamp dimming that works instead of a dynamic iris, the H9090 becomes a strong entry. That is why, for now, I'm awarding the H9090 a Special Interest award. If they can show me improvement in this area, it is my plan to up the Vivitek H9090 to our Hot Product award.
The Vivitek H9090 is a pretty darn good, but fairly expensive, single chip DLP projector. It does, however, need to also become a very smooth projector, in terms of that "iris action" and black level handling, to really step up its value proposition to its potential.
That's about it. If you have the budget, have a room you can properly set up, this is a serious projector, for the movie enthusiast - that wants a really fine looking image. The projector isn't feature laden, so I tend to like the expression that best fits. I do believe the the H9090, can be a movie purist's projector. It does have competition but that look and feel I always liked will impress many. Not for everyone, but probably downright excellent, for some of you.
Let's hope the further improvements I'm hoping for/expecting between this engineering sample, and the final product, are delivered.
I am hoping to briefly bring in a full production H9090 when they start shipping. If I can do that, I will add updates to this review or a separate article which I will link to from this one. -art
H9090 Pros and Cons
Reminder, I have been working with an engineering sample, so this definitely not a finished product. I do know that I had to ship this H9090 directly to CEDIA for display in their booth, so I'm assuming things are early enough on, that Vivitek in the US only has one or two of these. I have not heard when they will be shipping, but all considered, I'm expecting year end, or January 2016. If they ship sooner than that, I'll be a bit surprised. Well, I'll find out next week, at the show.
- DLP "look and feel" including rich colors/saturation on darker scenes
- 20,000 hour LED light engine, for more stable brightness and color
- Plenty of brightness (a measured 1000+ lumens) for larger screens in proper theater/cave setups
- 4 lenses to choose from - maximum placement flexibility
- A reasonable amount of lens shift - vertical and horizontal
- Pair of 12 Volt screen triggers
- Support for an Anamorphic lens
- Good remote control, with backlight
- 5 year warranty
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- Iris Action (Dynamic Black - LED light engine dimming) needs further improvement for smoother action, mostly on mid-brightness scenes
- No 3D
- No ability to handle 4K content
- Lacks CFI for smooth motion on HDTV and sports in particular
- No lens memory, needs anamorphic lens setup for use with wide "Cinemascope" screens
- Lacks the usual "home entertainment" features that are mostly found on low cost projectors - MHL on an HDMI, image player, Wifi, etc. Those are not expected on a projector in this class, or even most $2500 projectors, but will be in the next few years (There are always other "outboard" ways to accomplish those things with serious home theater projector)
- $9999 with the standard lens - not for everyone. To me, the price seems a bit high, but it's "street price" that matters. There are $7K projectors that sell for $4K, and $8K projectors that sell for $8K. Time will tell.
Bottom line: Movie addicts, with a suitable budget and a proper room should consider. There are multiple choices out there for you, but this looks like a top choice in the range if a DLP projector's picture is what rings your bell.