Heading into the H5080’s onscreen menus in search of tools for fine-tuning the picture performance is a decently rewarding experience. Initially this doesn’t look like it will be the case, though, with the main picture menu only containing the most basic (contrast, brightness, etc) of tweaks. Thankfully a separate Advanced menu makes things much more interesting. Particularly of note is a colour management system enabling you to adjust – with good finesse – the hue, saturation and gain of the primary red, green, blue, cyan, magenta and yellow colour components.
It might have been nice if the interface for these adjustments was a bit more intuitive and helpful, but so long as you use the tools available in conjunction with a basic set up aid like the HD Video Essentials Blu-ray, you should get on OK.
With so much fine-tuning at your disposal, it’s nice to find the H5080 carrying three user memory presets as well as a trio (Movie, Normal, Bright) that have been pre-defined by Vivitek.
Other tweaks of note include an impressively flexible noise reduction system, a decent amount of gamma flexibility, two settings for the projector’s Dynamic Black auto contrast system (or you can turn it off completely), and a rather mysterious final menu entry dubbed ViviSettings.
Selecting this brings three further options to do with what I presume is a proprietary video processing engine from Vivitek (though press information I was sent on the projector confusingly suggests that the projector uses PixelWorks DNX Motion Engine to improve motion sharpness!).
The ViviMotion tool does as its name suggests, providing three levels of judder-reducing, sharpness-enhancing motion processing. ViviPeaking allows you to increase the image’s sharpness in three stages in conjunction with the ViviMotion system. And the Flesh Tone adjustment, of course, lets you choose from five different ‘foundation’ skin tones. Oddly, the instruction manual suggests that this latter tool only works with component or S-Video feeds, but it was available – and certainly seemed to do something – with my HDMI-connected Sky HD receiver and Sony Blu-ray player.
Both the ViviMotion and ViviPeaking tools can make a quite substantial difference to the H5080’s pictures. The pity is that for me, none of these changes are ultimately for the better.
With ViviMotion, even the lowest setting really does remove practically all trace of judder from the image – and things become liquid smooth at the highest setting. However, there’s far too big a price to pay for the smoothness in the form of processing artefacts. Even at ViviMotion’s lowest setting there’s often a shimmering halo glitch around moving objects, and edges regularly break up and lag – especially during camera pans. Worse, the picture frequently stutters quite dramatically while watching 1080p/24 Blu-rays, as if the processing suddenly has a spare few frames it doesn’t quite know what to do with.
The ViviPeaking feature, meanwhile, adds so much sharpness when it’s switched on that it actually makes initially crisp HD pictures look soft! But it also ups noise levels exponentially, reminding me of why such artificial sharpeners are so commonly best avoided by anyone who actually wants to see a picture that looks realistic.
The bottom line here is that I personally would leave all the features in the ViviSettings menu turned off. This is clearly disappointing to some extent, given that the ViviSettings stuff presumably plays some sort of role in the H5080’s price. But exactly how disappointing it is will, of course, depend on how the H5080’s pictures shape up without these tools in play.