If you do get involved with fine-tuning the pictures, though, I’d strongly recommend that you always use the Movie mode as your starting point, since to be honest the Normal and Bright presets are both pretty dodgy. In fact, if you first watch the H1080FD with either of these latter modes selected, the grey wash that hangs over everything, together with some seriously unconvincing colours, are both pretty alarming.
The Movie mode, though, miraculously and instantly makes colours look a whole lot more credible, while also lifting black levels from a disappointment to an actually quite respectable level, at least with movies.
In fact, in Movie mode the infamous knotted rope/dangly bits torture sequence from ”Casino Royale”, with its pitch black background, tricky skin tones and stylised lighting, thus looks far more watchable and convincing than is commonly the case with a projector costing under a grand.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking here about colours enjoying the sort of subtlety of blend and tone that distinguishes decent projectors higher up the price tree – especially where deep greens are concerned. And black levels do still look cloudy enough to hide shadow details, leaving dark scenes looking a little flat. But at the risk of labouring what’s a screamingly obvious point, for its money the H1080FD really doesn’t do a bad job at all with colours or contrast.
Especially as it’s got another very unexpected string to its picture bow: startlingly good fine detailing. HD films look as textured and sharp on the H1080FD as they do on many projectors costing four times as much, with all the picture minutiae that distinguishes HD from its standard definition counterpart displayed with startling confidence. You even get a good sense of the filmic grain so beloved of most Blu-ray authoring houses these days.
It’s worth stressing, too, just how dynamic the H1080FD’s pictures tend to look, as the high brightness output ensures images have plenty of punch without looking nearly as washed out as I would have expected them to. This is particularly true if you use the Boost lamp output mode (something that’s worth at least trying, as it doesn’t screw up black levels as much as similar systems on some rival models).
Inevitably, though, there are signs of the H1080FD’s budget nature beyond the occasional rogue colour tone and crushed black level.
For starters, images – especially very dark ones or shots containing clear blue skies – look a bit noisy at times. Next, ‘mid-bright’ images containing a mix of bright and dark content sometimes look a little muted compared to more universally dark or bright images.
It also seemed to me during very dark scenes that there was some low-level deviance in colour tone in different parts of the image – though this is only noticeable with nearly completely black content.
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