It’s commonplace for sub-£1000 projectors not to have vertical image shifting, but we’d definitely expect to see it on a projector costing a fair bit more than £1500. At least if that projector was really a true home entertainment model, anyway…
Heading into the Pro8400’s passably presented menus, there’s a solid amount of picture set up tools. A series of picture presets head things up, which tellingly include Theater, Dark Room, Bright and a couple of User modes, but no ‘PC’ mode. The presets intriguingly suggest that ViewSonic really is serious about its home entertainment claims for the Pro8400, even if little else points in that direction so far.
There’s a reasonable amount of colour adjustment too, in that you can adjust the balance of the red, green and blue elements, as well as choosing from simple high, mid and low colour temperatures and individually tweaking the hue, saturation and gain values for the RGBCMY colour set.
There are also six different gamma settings; various power saving and Eco modes (again more common on business projectors, but no less welcome on a supposedly home one); separate manual and auto keystone options; and set up options for the LAN/optional wi-fi features and the 12V trigger jack.
Settling down to watch the Pro8400 in action, three things immediately leap out at you about its pictures, and only one of these three things is actually good.
That bit of good news finds images looking brighter than we’ve ever seen projected images look from anything like as affordable a projector. This gives video and console game pictures huge amounts of punch, and allows them to be watched reasonably successfully in a fairly bright room – something that can’t be said of many other affordable projectors.
The first bit of bad news is that the Pro8400’s high brightness has the unfortunate effect of highlighting a common failing of single-chip DLP projectors: the rainbow effect. Wherever a bright object appears against a dark background on the Pro8400 you can invariably see tell-tale stripes of red, green and blue over them, caused by the colour wheel required by single-chip DLP systems. You can also see the striping effect if you happen to flit your eyes around over the image.
The Pro8400’s rainbowing is even more pronounced than it was on the recently reviewed Acer H5360BD projector – but at least that Acer model had the considerable excuse of only costing under a third of the price of this ViewSonic model.
To be fair, you seldom see the rainbowing issue on the Pro8400 if you’re watching a predominantly bright, colourful scene. But it’s hard to think of any film – even an animated one – that doesn’t have at least a few dark scenes in it. And whenever these appear, the rainbowing is likely to really distract you from what you’re watching – unless you happen to be one of those lucky souls who appear completely immune to its effects.