One thing becomes apparent with the H1085’s pictures right away, and that’s that they suffer way less with the rainbow effect than those of the H1080 I tested.
My favourite test sequence for spotting 'rainbowing' is, as regular readers will know, the opening black and white sequence from Casino Royale. (Although any number of text-heavy game menu screens, like the player lists in the pre-game lobbies of Modern Warfare 2 online, also work well.)
And with the H1085 I found myself substantially less affected by the familiar stripes of pure red, green and blue flitting around over the bright parts of the picture than I’d expected to. The issue certainly isn’t completely invisible; flitting my eyes over the screen definitely reveals it. But crucially it’s now low-level enough to seldom be a real distraction to the majority of people.
As always, I should say that some people are more susceptible to the rainbow effect than others, so there may still be a few folk who can’t live with the H1085’s level of the problem, and should consider an LCD model like Epson’s impressive TW2900 instead. But I really don’t think this situation will apply to many people.
The H1085 also greatly outguns the H1080 with its black level response, as dark scenes suffer less with the slightly grey, crushed, detail-light look noted with the cheaper model. What’s more, as hoped the H1085’s greater brightness works in harmony with the enhanced contrast range to make images during dark and bright scenes alike look more punchy and engaging, even after calibration.
The H1085’s post-calibration colour palette looks more consistently accurate than that of the H1080 too, while detailing and sharpness are at least as acute. In fact, the extra ‘snap’ to the picture created by the boosted brightness and contrast performance arguably makes the H1085’s HD pictures look slightly crisper.
Aside from the residual rainbow effect mentioned earlier, the only other real problems I have with the H1085 are that it runs rather noisily if you make the mistake of leaving the lamp in its Boost mode; that there’s noticeable (though not unbearable) judder during 1080p/24 viewing; and that dark parts of the picture are slightly ‘alive’ with the greyish green dot crawl that’s still common with DLP projectors. Oddly, though, while this must certainly impact black level response to some extent, you only really become conscious of its existence if you get really close to your screen, or when a scene contains a lot of low-level green colouring.
These really are exciting times to be buying a budget projector. For as with a number of rival models we’ve seen recently, while the H1085 certainly doesn’t entirely shake off the inevitable shackles of its low price, it’s still astonishingly watchable and ambitious for its money. In fact, for me the way it manages to deliver brightness and contrast while still reining in DLP’s rainbow effect actually makes it the pick of the current sub-£1k projector crop.