First impressions of the unboxed H1080 from Vivitek are promising. Its exterior manages a combination of seriousness and glamour - with its glossy white finish - that we don’t often see in the budget projector world.

Connections, meanwhile, do the business perfectly well thanks to the provision of two HDMIs, a D-Sub PC port, and component/S-Video/composite video analogue options. There’s even a 12V trigger port you could use for driving a motorised projector screen.

Look deeper into the H1080's specs, though, and alarm bells start to ring. While it does deliver a Full HD resolution like its nearest budget prjector rivals, it does not supporting 3D playback and can only claim a contrast ratio of 5,000:1 and a maximum brightness of 1,800 ANSI Lumens - figures that are significantly lower than many of its close competitors.

Even the claimed output of 5W for the H1080’s built-in speaker system is low, and this lack of oomph is clearly evident in the tinny, trapped nature of the sound it produces. This would all be easier to take if the H1080 was significantly cheaper than its rivals, but at around £720 it’s actually more expensive than the BenQ W1070, and not much cheaper than the Optoma HD25.

There is a little early good news, though, as the H1080 provides more optical zoom than you often see with sub-£800 PJs. However, it doesn’t manage any vertical image shifting. Keystone correction is offered instead.

Heading into the H1080’s surprisingly professional-looking onscreen menus, you'll find a good combination of settings, including three user-definable picture memories, and three preset ones based around Movie, Bright and Normal themes. There's also a wide variety of gamma settings, and a degree of colour management allowing you to adjust the hue, saturation and gain of the six primary image colours.

Contrasting fortunes

Unfortunately, no amount of playing with the H1080’s various picture adjustments can get around the fact that its picture quality just isn't up to scratch.

The main reason for this is that it just can’t compete where contrast is concerned. Dark scenes like the subterranean sequences in There Will Be Blood or my favourite torture test – Chapter 12 of the final instalment in the Harry Potter... franchise – all suffer due to the amount of greyness hanging over black parts of the picture and the heavy amounts of shadow detail that gets crushed out of the image. This latter problem means that large chunks of dark shots look more or less completely flat and hollow.

In my experience, contrast problems like this generally lead to colour issues too, and so it proves on the Vivitek. The projector's palette holds up quite well with bright, colourful fare – especially animated movies like Toy Story 3 – but hues are impinged upon by a fairly strong greeny yellow undertone during darker moments. Also a problem for the H1080 is the rainbow effect.

Quietly does it

Despite all of the above, the H1080 does get a few things right. It runs phenomenally quietly for such a cheap unit, and its images look sharp and detailed without becoming grainy or forced. Motion is adequate, too; there’s a little judder, but minimal blur and no sign of fizzing noise.

Overall, though, while Vivitek's H1080 might have passed muster a couple of years back, it just isn’t good enough to warrant a £720 price tag in today’s budget projection world, especially as it doesn't give buyers the option to sample 3D.


Vivitek H1080
£720 Approx

Highs: Good build quality and design; decent amount of zoom; runs extremely quietly
Lows: Poor contrast performance; some rainbow effect; colour issues during dark scenes; no 3D playback

Performance: 2.5/5
Design: 4/5
Features: 3/5
Overall: 3/5