Vivitek H538W-3D review

Tom Morgan
2 Dec 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

Works great for smaller rooms, but the H538W-3D lacks the features and image quality to take a place in your main home cinema setup



1,280x800 resolution, 3,200 ANSI lumens, 78x261x190mm, 1.9kg

Finding a home cinema projector that supports 3D video can be incredibly difficult if you’re on a budget, but Vivitek’s H538W-3D is surprisingly well priced at £650. If this sounds a little too good to be true, you won’t be surprised that some sacrifices have been made in order to reach such a low price.

The biggest missing feature is 1080p support – the H538W-3D can only output high definition video in 720p. However, this shouldn’t be enough to put you off, as the incredibly compact unit isn’t designed to replace your living room’s TV. Instead, it works well as a portable projector that can easily be moved from room to room, or taken with you on the move.

Vivitek H538W-3D

For smaller rooms such as a study or bedroom, the H538W-3D makes much more sense. It's small enough to fit on a shelf, but can still create a 52in image from a distance of seven feet - even at 720p, the difference an image this size can make to games and videos can be astonishing. The 3,200 ANSI lumens lamp is bright enough to use with a small amount of external light, so you won’t need to completely black out your windows, although naturally it works best in darkness. The projector is fairly quiet, so shouldn't worry you if you're sat next to it.

Vivitek H538W-3D rear ports

You should have no trouble connecting a games console or PC, thanks to the array of inputs on the main unit - HDMI, VGA, composite video and S-video should cover most setups. You'll want to use your own speakers, as the single 2W mono speaker built into the unit is woefully underpowered. Even at its maximum volume audio had a sharp high end and little bass.

Image quality was respectable at 720p, with fairly accurate colours and plenty of brightness in a dark room. However, contrast was lacking in darker images and black levels left a lot to be desired – the opening scenes of Casino Royale appeared as chalky grey instead of the stark black and white they should. We found it difficult to follow fast-moving scenes because of the noticeable rainbow effect created by the DLP colour wheel – we aren’t particularly susceptible to the effect, but we definitely spotted it here. If you’ve struggled with rainbow patterns in the past, you may need to look elsewhere.

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