Three things hit you between the eyes when you start contemplating the Vivitek H9080. First, it’s huge – one of the biggest projectors our test benches have ever strained under.
Second, it’s excruciatingly expensive; its £10,995 asking price could get you instead, for instance, a decent family car.
Third, and most interesting – given our unabashed love of technology – is the rather important fact that the H9080 is the UK’s first projector to be lit by three LED lamps.
If the revelation of the H9080’s three LED system didn’t have you whooping along with us, then we clearly need to fill you in on why LED lighting should be better than normal projection bulbs.
First, the H9080’s use of LED lights means that you should only have to replace a lamp after a massive 20,000 hours of use. Compare this with the 2,000-4,000 hours quoted for normal projection lamps, and it’s clearly big news.
Game, set and match LED?
Next, Vivitek also reckons LED technology can deliver a much superior perceived brightness to other projection technologies.
Furthermore, the LED lights apparently negate the need for a dynamic contrast/iris feature of the sort found on most LCD projectors, even though the H9080’s claimed contrast ratio is a huge 100,000:1.
Not having a dynamic iris means the image should look more stable, especially during dark scenes.
Finally, the LED light system allows for the production of a wider colour gamut, and enables the projector to run with just 175W of power – markedly less than is the case with normal projectors.
Three lights are better than one
Having three LED light sources rather than just the one, meanwhile, negates the need for a colour wheel in the H9080’s DLP-based optical arrangement, which should make it run more quietly.
Even better, it also ensures that the H9080 should be immune to that bane of DLP user’s lives, the rainbow effect, where stripes of red, green and blue appear fleetingly over bright image elements or in your peripheral vision.
Although there’s a good chance anyone buying a Vivitek H9080 will have it professionally installed, we were impressed by how easy the projector is to set up and tinker with yourself.
To say the H9080’s picture performance gets three-LED technology off to a flyer would be an understatement. It’s quite possibly the finest projector we’ve ever clapped eyes on.
For a start, its pictures are exceptionally crisp and clean as a whistle, with fine detail galore and no sign of any technology-related artefacts – the rainbow effect, dot noise, grain, etc. Blu-rays really were made to be shown on the H9080.
The projector’s dynamic range is terrific, too, as some of the deepest but also most natural black colours around sit side by side with pure, bright whites.
Even better, the fact that the H9080 can produce great blacks without using the dynamic iris means that dark parts of the picture also contain lots of subtle detail; there’s none of the ‘crushing’ and hollowness you often see on other projectors.
The brightness of the H9080’s pictures impresses as well, outgunning that of JVC’s impressive D-ILA models, and making the Vivitek a great option if you have a really large screen to fill.
The H9080’s built-in Gennum 9450 video processor, meanwhile, does a terrific job of both upscaling standard definition sources and reducing motion judder. It even leaves 24P Blu-ray sources looking fluid, yet not so much that they stop looking cinematic.
Really the only two problems we can find with the Vivitek H9080 are that it emits a little whine when showing very bright footage, and that dark scenes can look flat and hollow if you’re not careful with some of the projector’s settings.
Otherwise, though, the H9080 seems pretty much perfect, making that £10,995 price tag suddenly look not quite so silly.