Vivitek H1080FD

Review

posted 9/24/2010 by Dan Keener
other articles by Dan Keener
Every year at CES I seem to take an appointment about a promising product with a company that hasn’t quite hit the mainstream yet. My surprise last-minute appointment at the 2010 CES was with the folks at Vivitek to take a look at their new lineup of projectors. After looking over their entire lineup, what caught my eye was the Vivitek 1080FD Home theater projector, which promised top-tier performance for a sub $1,000 price. We were able to test the unit over the summer to see if it lived up to expectation as a Home Theater projector and capable of being a high-end gaming projector as well.



The Specs

Model H1080FD
MSRP $999
Best Retail price $899
Engine Type DLP
Native Resolution 1920 x 1080
Contrast 5,000:1
Speakers 5-Watt mono
Lamp Life (Hrs) 3000/2000 Hours (Standard/Boost Mode)
Dimensions (in) 13.2" x 4" x 10"
Weight (lbs) 7.8 lbs
Warranty 1-Year Limited Warranty, 90-Day Lamp Warranty
Inputs HDMI (x2), VGA, Component, Composite, S-Video, RCA, Mini-Jack Audio-In, USB
Outputs Mini-Jack Audio-Out
ANSI Lumens 1800
Screen Size (in) 25” to 300”
Throw Distance (ft) 3.3’ to 32.8’


Out of the Box
The packaging for the Vivitek 1080FD looks like your run-of the-mill cardboard box until you actually crack it open. Inside, the first thing that jumps out at you is that the entire projector is encased in one of those rigid, plastic “air shells”. It is actually two pieces that fit together to form a four-sided shell, but these really do the job and IMO, are better for the projector and protect it more than a standard foam wrap and egg crate dies ever can. As for the projector itself, it is covered with a film to protect it against scratches during the shipping process.


In addition, the box also contains the remote, manual (on CD), AC power cord, component Cable, batteries, lens cap and warranty cards.


Aesthetics
As I have mentioned in previous reviews, I am a huge fan of a gloss finish on projectors, especially if they will be out in the open in your home theater/gaming setup. So I naturally the Vivitek 1080FD and its beautiful gleaming-white sheen caught my eye. One huge advantage that glossy white has over glossy black is that fingerprints and dust do not tend to show up as pronounced, which means you have to really look for them. As for the rest of the chassis, the vents on the side give it a cool “swept” look that blend in nicely with the chrome trim. The main buttons themselves are not only tucked in close to the chassis so they don’t stand out, but are laid out with an excellent thought process that allows 10 buttons to be in a 2.5” square area.


The back panel of the 1080FD has a nice mix of digital and analog inputs and is laid out smartly. Whether the projector is ceiling mounted or table-mounted, the video inputs (HDMI x2, component, S-Video, USB, composite and VGA) are located on the same level, with the audio inputs and outputs (mini-jack in and out as well as RCA in) in the next row. The rest of the back panel has an RS-232c jack, DC Trigger, lock, power connector and the mono speaker. All in all, the 1080FD back panel looks clean and won’t be unsightly if the projector is mounted out in the open.


Remote
Most companies tend to either provide a remote with too little button functions to save on size, or with everything under the sun available, making it a monster of an accessory. Vivitek has managed to blend the two together to create a nice harmony between the size and the amount of on-remote button functionality. It may be one of the better projector remotes I have reviewed Save for the zoom and focus (which are manual on the projector chassis), I was able to do everything I needed with the remote, and all of the buttons worked both logically and as expected.



Setup
For the first time, I actually had some trouble setting up a projector to review. The issue I ran across was that the Vivitek 1080FD seemed to be geared primarily toward a ceiling mount (which is upside down) out of the box (even though it also states that it will do table top.) I tend to believe that most folks want their projectors ready to hit the screen right out of the box before they mount it, so it was a bit confusing that it was geared for a ceiling mount with a pretty steep pitch. After fooling with it for about 10 minutes, I finally decided to bookshelf mount it in the test lab, so it actually was at a height of about six feet and 12 feet from the screen. Much like the last projector I reviewed, the Vivitek 1080FD only weighed a little more than seven pounds, so it was easy to maneuver to get into the proper spot and easily could be portable.

Connecting the 1080FD was very easy, as it sports two HDMI connections and a single component connection. So I was able to hook up both my Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 simultaneously for the first time in a while. Considering the 1080FD is under $1000, it is great to have that flexibility. Instead of using the component to hook up my DirecTV receiver, I just swapped out one of the game consoles HDMI hookup to preserve the best possible picture.


Video Performance
For video testing, I utilized both the Blu-Ray player in my PlayStation 3 and a DirecTV HD feed. The movie I chose to use was Sherlock Holmes on Blu-Ray, as it has a nice combination of lights and darks, with plenty of CGI and intricate details. One of the scenes that really stood out was in the boat yard where Sherlock is getting chased down by one very angry and large dude. The details of the ship (which were CGI) and the entire dry dock were spectacular and I was able to see in the details of the ship’s hull even in the darker portions of the scene. A few scenes later was when the wharf was blown all to heck, and again the 1080FD provided a great looking picture and easily transitioned from dark to bright (when the explosions came) without issue.


With the DirecTV feed, I mostly watched some NFL Network and NFL preseason games. The image was crisp, clean and the colors were quite vibrant, everything I want in my football display. Considering my primary TV is a 56” rear-projection DLP, I was pretty happy with the 92” of image the 1080FD provided, and I can say it many cases it looked better than my main TV does. About the only issue I noticed during video playback (and to a degree while gaming) was the traditional DLP issue with fast panning of the screen, where the image tends to blur up momentarily. This was most noticeable during NFL games when the camera was following a hard throw that was many yards downfield. The image would blur for a second on the quick camera pan, but collect itself and be razor sharp again when the camera arrived at its destination. I know that this is not a Vivitek 1080FD specific issue, but if you are buying a DLP, be aware that this may happen in some instances.

One other thing I wanted to touch on with the video was the issue with the “rainbow effect” caused by a DLP color wheel. For the most part, I have been immune to this phenomena and I only noticed it a few times with the 1080FD (mainly on solid white lines running across the screen, such as yard markers.) It didn’t really impact the image for me on consistent bases, but I know they are there and it will stand out for some more than others (like a smell.)


Gameplay Tests
For the first time in a while, I actually brought out the PlayStation 3 (in addition to the Xbox 360) to do testing on a projector. With the Vivitek capable of full 1080p resolution with a DLP chip, this was a must. I spent some time tooling around in Home and playing some Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. Home looked really good, especially when visiting the sponsor areas. The colors were vivid and I was able to transition from the brightly lit Central Plaza into either the Home Theater or the Bowling Alley without the 1080FD losing any detail or having any color issues.

As far as Grand Theft Auto; Liberty City Stories, I was very pleased with how well the Vivitek 1080FD handled the gameplay. I tested it with high-speed chases (by land, seas AND air), massive explosions and ducking in and out of alley’s and darkened rooms. The image remained crisp, clean and exactly what I expected. I did come across the occasional screen blur (see below), but overall, my gaming experience was enjoyable and the Vivitek 1080FD did and exception job of providing a clean, crisp image in great color.

With the Xbox 360, I gave it a serious dose of Rock Band and Red Dead Redemption. With Rock Band, my number one goal was to see how well the horizontal scrolling lyrics and the vertical scrolling “notes” would appear, as these are the most susceptible to motion blur, screen tear or lag. After playing through countless hours, I can say that there was little to no issues with Rock Band. There was zero lag (see below), the notes were clean, crisp and easily scene even at high-rates of speed and the scrolling lyrics were always legible.

As far as Red Dead Redemption, my never ending saga (literally, on like 30+ hours of general play) took me even deeper into the backwoods, foothills and bramble bush of New Austin. The 1080FD did a really good job of displaying details, colors and keeping up with the high-paced action. I was able to shoot moving targets without issue and utilize the dead-eye in exquisite detail. Horse riding was also clean whether I was going at a trot or pushing the horse to its fastest speed fleeing a posse or gang members. As for the details of the terrain, check out the screen shot of Marston standing on the cliffs south of Fort Mercer looking at the rapids and dual bridge leading over the river to Perdido. The image isn’t as good as I would have liked, but you can still see how 92” of Red Dead goodness looks as it is being projected by the Vivitek 1080FD.


Much like the previous DLP projector I reviewed, the blurring of the screen when there is a fast pan of the camera may cause issues while gaming. In Red Dead Redemption (only while spinning the camera), as well as in Grand Theft Auto while moving a vehicle at a high rate of speed, you might experience motion blur momentarily. Again, this is due to the DLP technology and not specific to the projector. I personally do not find it too much of an irritant (maybe I am used to it), but for some it may become a distraction or disruptive.

I always like to touch in the topic of lag from console to projector whenever I am reviewing one. With the 1080FD, I did not experience any noticeable issues while playing any of the games including Rock Band. In fact, I didn’t even calibrate the game, as it worked so well out of the box that I didn’t want to “fix” it and make it worse. Anyone that picks up the Vivitek 1080FD with the intent of gaming on it should be pretty happy with its performance.


Miscellaneous Items of Note
• Very Quiet Operation
• Easy ceiling mount pattern
• Mono (single) 5-watt speaker

Pros Cons
Great Value Moderate Lamp Life
Bright Slight motion blur
Rich Deep colors  


Testing Methodology
Items utilized in the testing of the Vivitek H1080FD included, but not limited to:

Xbox 360 Elite, PlayStation 3, DirecTV HD, 16:9 92” Da-Lite fixed screen.

Testing was done at a throw distance of 12’ from a 92” 16:9 screen with a shelf install location (approx six feet off the floor.) Seating was at a distance of nine feet from the screen.


The Conclusion
The Vivitek H1080FD is a great option for those that are looking to bridge the gap between gaming and home theater performance. The picture is bright, clear and the price is right (sub $1000 for a 1080p projector). The unit is a little more difficult to setup than most projectors, but once it is where you want it, it should perform without issues.  While there are a couple of DLP related concerns, overall the Vivitek 1080FD is an excellent projector to be your primary unit or a secondary projo specifically for gaming.




* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.

A-
My initial question for the Vivitek 1080FD was whether it could be a great 1080p Home Theater projector for less than a $1000…and the answer would be yes. While it has a few opportunities for improvement, most users that plan to put the 1080FD as the centerpiece of their Home Theater or gaming rig will not be disappointed, especially considering the investment.