Also a real strength of the H5085 is its handling of motion. Even with the available motion processing turned off (personally we’d recommend that you always leave it off) judder levels are exceptionally low, and there’s no sense of resolution loss over fast-moving objects either. There’s very occasionally a slight smear behind extremely fast moving objects if they contrast aggressively with the background colour, but these moments are so rare and fleeting that you might never actually notice them.
Motion is also superbly untroubled by the sort of banding and fizzing colour noise that can be an issue with single-chip DLP projection, clearly indicating that the projector’s colour wheel system is of a very high quality and speed. This assumption is underlined by the fact that the image appeared to our eyes to be completely unaffected by single-chip DLP’s infamous rainbow effect, where lower-quality colour wheels can cause stripes of pure red, green and blue to appear in your peripheral vision or over exceptionally bright parts of the image.
The H5085’s images are reasonably bright, though you won’t be getting anywhere near the projector’s1800 ANSI Lumens maximum once you’ve calibrated the image to deliver the most satisfying black level response.
Which brings us to the H5085’s Achilles Heel. For there’s no denying that its contrast performance falls short of that produced by all three of the Sony, Panasonic and especially JVC rivals we mentioned earlier.
Starting our tests with the DynamicBlack feature turned off, parts of the picture that should look black instead look a distinct shade of grey – and this shade is sufficiently pronounced that it infiltrates some dark colour tones during low-lit scenes, reducing the colour naturalism that’s so strong a feature of the H5085 during bright scenes.
The pall of greyness hanging over dark areas of the picture also noticeably suppresses shadow detail in those areas, leaving them looking a little hollow and flat – an effect which again runs counter to the generally outstanding levels of detailing and texture subtlety the H5085 serves up with less challenging source material.
The depth of black level response can, thankfully, be considerably improved by calling in the DynamicBlack feature. The level of grey ‘mist’ drops considerably, instantly making images look more cinematic. However, there remains a noticeable lack of subtle detailing in dark areas even when using the DynamicBlack feature, and worse, a lack of finesse with the iris’s adjustments means that both of the DynamicBlack settings cause quite distracting ‘jumps’ in the image’s overall brightness at times.
The H5085 uses its chunky body to rein in running noise quite successfully – at least when you’re using the Standard lamp setting. However, ramping the lamp up to its ‘Boost’ level – something we’d only recommend if you’re wanting to watch something in a room with ambient light in it – pushes the noise of the cooling fans up to much less comfortable levels.
There’s enough good stuff in the H5085’s pictures to reassure us that Vivitek still very much knows its picture quality onions. In fact, it frequently looks outstanding with bright, colourful footage. It struggles a little with darker stuff, though.
There's no doubt that projectors like Panasonic’s AT6000, Sony’s HW50 and JVC’s X35 all add 3D to their spec sheets while also delivering impressive pictures for only marginally more money than you need for the H5085. But Vivitek's model remains worth of at least an audition if 3D doesn't bother you.