Vivitek H1080 review

Accomplished, value-busting 1080p video projector
Photo of Vivitek H1080
£850

Office projectors adept with still images and Powerpoint slides are all very well – and very cheap – but with an increasing need for video and moving images in work situations, the video-capable category is getting more and more exposed to the mass market.  Vivitek’s latest, a 1080p-capable beamer, primarily designed for home cinemas rather than boardrooms, is so well specified it behaves well in both environments – and at a stunningly low price.

Versatility

Just a few years ago quality video projectors cost somewhere approaching £2k, and though competition between the likes of Epson, Optoma, BenQ and InFocus has since driven the average price down to under £1k, the H1080’s remarkably versatile performance appears good value indeed.

A mid-sized single-chip DLP-based projector (it uses a DarkChip2 chipset) whose Full HD 1080×1920 pixel resolution alone puts it ahead of many rivals. The H1080 adds to its standard issue dual HDMI inputs with both a 15-pin PC input and, crucially, a 5W mono speaker.

Other ins and outs include composite video, S-video, component video (capable of adding a third HD 720p source – typically a games console, which largely use 720p games) and a 12V trigger (for pairing the H1080 with a motorised projector screen. Get you!).

A backlit remote control is another nice touch, and one that underlines the importance of a blackout, and it operates a reasonably simple GUI that includes menus for performing a full calibration of the H1080. Perfectionists on a budget will love this projector.

Set-up & positioning

The H1080 is clearly designed with small office boardrooms and living rooms in mind. A high brightness of 1800 Lumens is enough for viewable pictures in daylight, though that does mean a loud operation, never forget that a blackout is so, so much better if you want the best possible picture. Usability is also extended, thanks to a short throw lens that lends itself to small rooms – in our test room we achieved a 65-inch picture from just two metres (the throw ratio is 1.6-1.92). We tweaked the height of feet on the H108′s undercarriage (two on the rear and a single foot on the front) before manually adjusting the zoom, and focus controls around the lens.

Our only criticism of the H1080 in terms of set-up is the absence of manual horizontal and vertical lens shift levers, which have proved so useful on other models (Epson projectors, particularly) in creating a dead-on image on a fixed projector screen. That problem is deepened by the ineffectiveness of the automatic keystone correction feature, which means that the 335x102x254mm H1080 can be tricky to place correctly; cue some shuffling about of tables.

Picture quality

After taking 32 seconds to wake, the H1080 automatically detects any source with a live video feed attached. Compared with a LCD model, it’s the H1080′s lush colour palette that first dazzles us, with a high level of detail apparent even in moving images, to boot. Our test disc, a Blu-ray version of the remake of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, demonstrated a blur-free image even during frenetic action sequences, though it also highlighted so-so contrast. Dark areas of images in this particularly dingy movie were too often left looking grey-ish, with the dedicated ‘movie mode’ not helping. If the brightness is at its fullest, images tend to lose their pristine look, and instead be studded with picture noise.

The H1080′s lamp is rated to last between 3,000-4,000 hours, which is about normal for a projector of this type and price. A replacement lamp will set you back £215.

Sound quality

That tiny mono speaker isn’t great. In fact, the sound quality is really rather poor, but its appearance instantly changes the H1080 from a mere component in a home cinema set-up to a fully-fledged all-in-one projector capable of delivering the odd audio flourish in a presentation. Whether that speaker is at all convincing does depend on where the H1080 is positioned, though its short throw skills ought to mean it being placed in front of the audience, where sound would be most logical.

Don’t overlook the usefulness of its DLP engine; although a lot of office products long ago migrated to LCD tech, which get smoother and more generous with contrast every year. The H1080′s colour wheel does offer some particularly nuanced colours and fluid action. Think plasma versus, err, LCD in the TV world. 

Company: Vivitek

Website: http://www.karma-av.co.uk/

Contact: 01423 358846

Positives
  • Detail, colour, small size, low price, presence of a speaker.
Negative
  • Lacks contrast, no lens shift levers, rudimentary sound quality,

Verdict

The lack of manual lens shift levers might not be unusual, but it is annoying, though the H1080 isn't particularly difficult to set-up. It's worth the time spent, too, since pictures are swimming in gorgeous colouring and graced with a rare sharpness. As well as making the most of its Full HD capabilities, this versatile and relatively small, quiet (if used in low brightness modes in a blackout) projector makes a noise with a dinky, but useful mono speaker. A slight lack of contrast is the main issue we have, but the H1080 remains one of the best value video projectors around – and an especially versatile one, at that.