Talk about extremes. Back in July we checked out an LED projector - the H109080FD - from new (to the UK) projection brand Vivitek that cost a cool 11 grand. Yet here we are today looking at a Vivitek projector that can be yours for the princely sum of £849. Including VAT.
Most brands don't have anywhere near this level of price diversity within their range, and the mind frankly boggles about the difference in performance level I might expect to find between the two models. Which is a fancy way of saying that I can't help but be worried that the entry-level H1080FD will turn out to be as bad as the H9080FD was outstanding…
Not surprisingly, the H1080FD doesn't deliver nearly as much sheer product volume for your buck as its illustrious flagship sibling. Its 335 x 102 x 256mm dimensions are entirely in line with the sort of coffee table-friendly fare seen with rival ultra-budget models from the likes of InFocus, Optoma and, in the distant past, Panasonic.
The H1080FD is reasonably smartly dressed for such a cheap unit too, with a tidy white finish and tastefully rounded edges. The only thing that looks a bit off aesthetically is its lens. It's a very small affair - only a bit over an inch across - but it's been shoved unceremoniously inside a barrel that looks as if it was designed with a much larger lens array in mind, with rather cheapo-looking black plastic 'screening' being used to hold the lens in position.
The H1080FD's connections are outstanding for its money. Two HDMIs get the ball rolling, when I really would only expect one on such an affordable machine. But remarkably the projector also carries a USB port, an RS-232C control port, a D-Sub PC port, and even a 12v trigger output you could use to automatically fire up a motorised screen.
It's slightly disappointing to find that the USB port is only there for service use, and wouldn't let me play my digital photos through it. But such disappointment is scarcely unfair when you're talking about a projector as cheap as the H1080FD.
Turning to the projector's innards, the first thing to say is that the H1080FD, not surprisingly for its money, has ditched the H9080FD's LED lighting in favour of a straightforward 0.65in single-chip DLP/230W lamp set-up.
However, impressively for the price, the resolution of this chipset is a native Full HD 1,920 x 1,080. What's more, the lamp is reckoned to pump out a high maximum of 1,800 Lumens, while the projector's full on/off contrast ratio is reckoned to be a respectable (for this level of the market) 4,000:1.
The only concern I have with these figures is if the brightness is actually too high, hinting at a PC-biased picture performance rather than something suited to films, which tend to favour strong black level response over brightness.