Vivitek H1080 review

Budget full HD home theatre projector
Photo of Vivitek H1080
£890

Vivitek burst onto the UK projector scene a couple of years ago with its H9080FD Home Theatre model, which offers a mighty 800 lumens of LED lighting. Its launch price was £11,000 – and while that figure has fallen to £9,000 it’s still hardly a snip.

So imagine our surprise when Vivitek came up with the H1080, a Full HD projector with a conventional 230W bulb, DLP colour wheel and a price of £890. That’s a massive price difference between the two ends of the Vivitek product range – a bit like Mercedes Benz launching a new budget model for two grand.

The hardware
The specification of the H1080 follows the usual Home Theatre form, starting with the chassis which is a fairly large 333x255x113mm. It weighs 3.6kg. That’s pretty much what you expect from a Home Theatre projector as a porky chassis makes it relatively easy to keep the bulb cool whilst keeping noise to a minimum.

We emphasise the word ‘relatively’: the hardware inside the H1080 consists of a 0.65-inch DLP chip with a 230W bulb to power the show, so there is plenty of heat to remove from the chassis. Vivitek manages this task rather effectively, but the noise ratings of the H1080 require a small amount of explanation.

Most projectors have ‘Normal’ and ‘Economy’ power modes. For its H1080, Vivitek has decided to name the lower setting ‘Normal’, while the brighter, noisier setting is called ‘Boost’.

In Normal mode the H1080 is very quiet at 26dBA, and picture quality is superb. It makes little sense to use the Boost setting (which raises the noise level to 30dBA) unless you simply cannot be bothered to close the curtains in your viewing room.

To our eyes, the design of the casing lacks sophistication. You access the focus and zoom controls through a window in the top of the housing, and while we like the smooth action of the controls there is a certain amount of light spill around the lens housing. The ventilation louvres on the sides of the casing also allow a certain amount of light to leak into your darkened viewing room.

Performance
Vivitek quotes the brightness rating of the H1080 as 1,800 lumens, but it doesn’t specify whether that figure relates to Normal or Boost mode. We do, however, know that the H1080 draws 240W in Normal mode, with a bulb life of 3,000 hours, while Boost raises the power draw to 290W in Boost and reduces the bulb life to 2,000 hours. A replacement 230W bulb costs about £230 so the running cost per hour is measured in pennies – but you’ll face a hefty charge when the life of the bulb has expired.

Picture perfect
Vivitek has taken advantage of the size of the H1080 to provide a decent list of ports and connectors. Across the back of the projector we find twin HDMI, Component, VGA, S-Video, Composite, RS-232C, RCA and audio mini-jacks. In addition there is a USB port for service work, and a 12V trigger port that could be used to control a motorised projection screen. We were pleased to see that Vivitek has included HDMI, VGA and Component cables in the package.

The H1080 includes a mono 5W speaker that is surprisingly competent. But while the speaker may come in handy for presentations, it’s not much use for movies and TV as the physical separation between the picture and audio is significant.

We’ve become accustomed to seeing LCD technology in Home Theatre projectors, but Vivitek has gone down the DLP route for the H1080 with somewhat mixed results. The picture can look decidedly unimpressive in Normal and Bright preset but we were blown away by the Movie mode which presents colours in a vivid and impressive fashion. In particular, the Vivitek excels at blacks and dark tones; however, you may suffer from occasional streaks of DLP ‘rainbows’. The projector’s claimed contrast ratio is 5,000:1.

When you use the full-sized remote to navigate the projector’s settings, you’ll see there are three user-defined modes available for the enthusiast. You’ll also find that the rubber buttons light up with each press, so you’ll have no trouble using it in a darkened room.

There is no auto search for an input signal and you have to select the correct source from the remote or by using the control buttons on top of the projector.

Company: Vivitek

Contact: 0031 20 655 0960 (Netherlands)

Positives
  • Full HD picture; superb Movie mode; extensive range of inputs.
Negative
  • Noisy Boost mode; some light spill; DLP technology is not to everyone's taste.

Verdict

This is a decent home theatre projector that makes the most of any HD media that you fancy watching. The inclusion of dual HDMI ports is a nice touch, but the main strength of the H1080 lies in its ability to display dark movie scenes with outstanding accuracy.