Elsewhere, I found feeds of ”Halo 3 ODST” from my Xbox 360 not looking as rich in black level as normal video feeds – a situation also recently seen on Samsung’s LED LCD TVs. But the H1080FD doesn’t have the HDMI black level adjustment solution that the Samsung TVs offered.
Another curious discovery is that the H1080FD doesn’t seem happy playing 1080p/24 Blu-ray outputs. The strangeness began when my Pioneer LX91 Blu-ray deck’s HDMI ‘handshake’ with the projector led to a default output of 720p – despite the projector having a Full HD native resolution. Then, when I forced the Blu-ray output into 1080p/24, the projector’s saturation levels and general colours tone kept shifting in a really quite distracting fashion. Still, 1080p/60 worked absolutely fine, so I don’t see the 1080p/24 issue as being a major off-putter for the H1080FD’s casual target audience.
One thing that certainly could be a major issue, though, is something I predicted as soon as I found out that the H1080FD uses DLP technology: the rainbow effect.
This phenomenon, caused by the single-chip DLP’s colour wheel, finds stripes of pure red, green and blue flitting momentarily into your peripheral vision if you move your eyes over the image. In fact, on the H1080FD the problem is severe enough to be easily visible over very bright parts of the image without you moving your eyes – especially during camera pans. It’s worth stressing here that not everybody sees the rainbow effect. But while I myself am not generally as affected by it as one or two of my friends, I still regularly noticed it on the H1080FD.
A couple of other niggles I have with the H1080FD are a) that it runs a bit more noisily than I’d like it to, especially using the Boost lamp mode, and b) that the vents down the projector’s sides and the rather clumsy lens design both let quite a bit of light escape into your room.
With the H1080FD’s picture assessment complete, I’d normally head off into the Verdict at this point. But in a bid to make itself even more easy to use for the plug and play crowd, it has a built-in 5W mono speaker, so that you can get sound to accompany your pictures without having to rustle up a separate audio system.
Clearly this solution is hardly ideal for movie viewing, partly because of the inevitable lack of raw audio power, but also because the audio is produced at such a distance from the image it’s supposed to be accompanying. In fact, in my room set-up, the projector sits behind my viewing position, so the audio/video dislocation couldn’t be more extreme!
To be fair, though, the quality of audio produced by the speaker really isn’t bad; decent volumes can be obtained, and there’s more clarity in the mix than I’d expect from a mono speaker. So I’d definitely say that the sound is good enough to work with a casual gaming session or sporting event.
Although there are clear signs of the H1080FD’s budget nature in its build quality and some aspects of its performance, it still does plenty well enough to warrant at least an audition if you’re in the market for a startlingly cheap ‘part-time’ projector.
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