Vivitek H1186-WT Projector Review
The Vivitek H1186-WT is another new home entertainment projector that takes full HD 1080p resolution below $700. That by itself is enough to attract attention, but this 7.5 lb portable projector is loaded with features, including a very unusual 2.35 native Cinemascope mode, a longer than average 1.5x zoom lens, vertical lens shift, a 10-watt onboard speaker, an RGBRGB color wheel, HDMI with MHL, full HD 3D, and ratings of 2000 lumens and 50,000:1 contrast. That is a lot of exciting stuff packaged into a $700 projector.
Once you fire it up, you discover that the Vivitek H1186 gives you six preset color modes, and one User mode. (There are also two ISF calibration modes (Day and Night), that can be unlocked via the menu if you need them). None of the preset modes are ideally calibrated for optimal video quality, so to get a true sense of what this projector is capable of, you will want to get into User mode and make a number of color, brightness, and contrast adjustments, or have a professional with a meter give the projector a tune-up. The projector provides extensive color management controls, so any calibrator will have the tools necessary to dial in a very solid, natural image with sparkling contrast and rich, well-saturated accurate color. In short, you can get it looking great, but it does not come this way out of the box.
"Bright" is the brightest of the preset modes. It is heavily biased toward green, so much so that it is hard to imagine anyone would want to use this particular mode for anything. "Presentation" is the second brightest mode; it still has a noticeable green bias although not as extreme as Bright. The remaining presets, Movie, Game, TV and sRGB, have much less obvious color bias compared to Bright and Presentation. All of them are quite a bit more watchable out of the box, in the sense that they are not obviously green. But they all tend to push blue a bit more than is ideal. This makes blue water and skies look rich, but among other things tends to compromise the warmth of flesh tones. So taking the time to have the unit tweaked up will pay off in spades with a much richer, more balanced, higher performance image.
Once the projector is calibrated for best video it will put out about 1200 lumens, with the lamp on full power and the zoom lens at wide angle. Dropping it into Eco mode will bring it down to about 900 lumens which is more than ample for a 120" diagonal 16:9, 1.0 gain screen in a dark room. You can cut the lumens by another 18% by backing the unit up to use the longer end of the zoom range.
Black levels are reasonably solid as you would expect from DLP, and in this respect the H1186 is certainly quite competitive. This has always been one of the key advantages of DLP, and it remains so here.
The picture is also sharp from edge to edge--there is no noticeable softening around the corners. Some projectors may be slightly sharper, but the H1186 is, again, perfectly competitive in its price range.
All preset color modes on the H1186 default to a sharpness setting of 20 on a scale from 0 to 30. You might normally expect to see some sharpening artifacts at this setting. But the sharpening control has a modest effect on the picture (thankfully), so the slider can be driven quite high without the picture looking artificially processed. Even with Sharpness set at 20 the picture is clean and natural.
The preset picture modes cannot be calibrated--most of the controls are fixed. However, in either the User mode or one of the two ISF modes, you have full color management controls that will let you do the fine tuning needed to get the projector spun up to its best possible picture. And once that is done, the picture is balanced, rich, and thoroughly engaging.
|Review Contents:||Viewing Experience||Set Up and Install||Key Features||Performance|
|Limitations and Conclusion|