Another SVGA projector breaks the $1000 price barrier. A document camera becomes a strong differentiator.
The Toshiba TLP-S10U joins the growing ranks of SVGA projectors with a street price of $999. The 3-LCD SVGA S10 projector weighs in at 4.8 pounds and is targeted at the budget minded mobile presenter or educator.
The Toshiba TLP-S41U is closely related to the TLP-S10U with a street price of $1,799. The beauty of this stylish and cleverly designed projector is a document camera that allows you to project small objects, photographs, and printed material.
Toshiba TLP-S10U Basics
The S10 projector uses three 0.5-inch polysilicon TFT LCDs with micro lens array (MLA) technology. With MLA, a tiny lens is placed in front of each pixel to increase light throughput for a brighter image. Housed in an attractive silver-colored case this unit measures 11.9 x 8.1 x 3.3 inches and features 1200 ANSI lumens with 400:1 contrast. Image size ranges from 40 to 300 inches with a throw distance of 5 to 38 feet.
The unit comes with a remote control, power cord, RGB cable, 2 types of audio cables, video cable, CD-ROM, Owners Manual and a Quick Reference guide. No S-video cable or carrying case is provided. A soft case is available from the manufacturer for $195.
The S10 projector does not have a zoom lens which means you must move the projector in order to adjust the image size. A zoom lens allows you to resize the image from a fixed position making it easier to setup the projector when you travel to different locations.
The S10 projector offers a manual keystone correction (+/- 15 degrees) to allow you to square up an image when your projector and screen do not line up properly, a 10X Digital Zoom and Pan that let's you zoom in on any presented material, and a monitor output port that allows presentation to be viewed on a monitor as well as on the projection screen.
As an SVGA (800 x 600) projector, the S10 competes with half a dozen projectors in the sub $1,000 SVGA category. SVGA is the lowest resolution currently offered for data projectors and its principal benefit is lower cost. If you need a projector for mobile presentations and some video, this may be the projector for you. However, if you are presenting a lot of text and data and you want higher quality video, a higher resolution projector may better fit your needs. But know your needs, because even a lower-end XGA (1024 x768) projector in a similar form factor can double your cost.
Toshiba TLP-S41U Basics
The S41 is powered by the three 0.7-inch polysilicon TFT LCD's. It is rated at 1600 lumens and 400:1 contrast. This unit is housed in the same attractive case as the S10, but it features a black front bezel to coordinate with the black detachable document camera that is affixed to one side of the unit. The camera adds about 2.2 inches of width and 1.4 pounds. Projected image size ranges from 33 to 300 inches.
The camera can be used either attached to the projector or tethered with the camera extension cable. The detachable document camera is 1/4.2-inch CCD/629,856 pixels (648H x 486V x 2)
|Toshiba TLP-S10U with Document Camera Open|
The S41 projector ships with a remote control, power cord, RGB cable, audio cable, audio cable for computer, video cable, camera extension cable, CD-ROM, Owners Manual and a Quick Reference guide and a soft carrying case.
It uses 1.2x zoom lens, with manual focus and manual zoom and provides manual or automatic keystone correction (+/- 15 degrees), 10X Digital Zoom and Pan and monitor loop though capability.
|Toshiba TLP-S10U with Document Camera Extended|
Both projectors accept an audio input to a 1-watt speaker, monitor loop-through support, RGB computer or component video, video, S-video, and computer control (RS-232C). They are compatible with SDTV (480i), EDTV (480p) and HDTV (720p,1080i). Though native resolution is SVGA (800 x 600) both accommodate VGA and XGA, SXGA and UXGA (compressed).
The S10 lamp is a 130W high-pressure mercury lamp with a 2000-hour rating and a street price under $200. The S41 uses a 165W high-pressure mercury lamp that lists at $439 with a street price $50 to $60 less and recommended replacement at 3000 hours. Both projectors have an eco-mode that reduces power consumption, extends the life of the lamp, and decreases light output 20%.
The S10 and S41 are rated at 36dBA and 37dBA respectively and the levels were acceptable in a room with people and some ambient noise during a presentation. This fan noise level is not uncommon in a small projector and is one of the expected trade-offs, but we found it quite noticeable when viewing a movie in a smaller venue. Use of the eco-mode did reduce the noise levels to much more acceptable levels of 32dBA and 33dBA.
The remote control for both units is a full size remote with a good feature set. They include buttons for projector power (on/standby), menu selection and navigation, volume control, mute, freeze, source input, keystone correction and volume control. Keystone correction is a nice feature for correcting trapezoidal distortion due to the projected image not being perpendicular to the screen, however any time you use keystone correction, part of the image will be compressed and there will be some distortion or artifacts that may be noticeable, particularly in data mode when viewing smaller text.
The remote control also includes a "call" button that displays settings and status information of the source you are viewing, an "auto-set" button that automatically adjusts the image for optimal viewing and three buttons related to resizing the image. For presentations, mouse control was one feature we would have liked. If you're a presenter and want to control your presentation remotely, we suggest you consider buying the Mouse Remote for $139.
Both projectors have front and rear I/R receivers that allow the remote control to operate well when pointed at the projector from a range of up to 20 feet. It also performed well when bouncing the signal off the screen.
Three separate menus allow access to Image Adjustment for each of the four image sources (computer, component video, S-video, composite video), Display Settings for choosing items such as your language of choice for the menus, and Default Settings for selecting things such as economy lamp mode.
Both projectors include a 2-year parts and labor warranty with the option to purchase a 1-year extended warranty for $359 or 2 years for $529. The lamp warranty is the typical 90 days.
Out of Box Experience
The S10 was easy to set up using the Quick Reference guide. The illustrations were excellent and directions were easy to follow. We would like to have seen feet or yards noted instead of just meters on the projection screen size graph, but since the US is somewhat a lone ranger in its resistance to metrication, we can understand the omission.
We used the AutoSet key on the remote and the projector produced a crisp clear picture in both computer and video modes with nothing further required other than focusing and adjusting the extendable front foot to raise or lower the image. We did a small manual keystone adjustment resulting in no perceptible distortion.
The S10 projector does not have an optical zoom lens, but produces a picture ranging from 40 to 300 inches depending on its distance from the screen. You could also use the digital resize button to adjust the picture size smaller than its native resolution although you lose some image quality, as well as brightness, and moving the projector is a better approach. The resize buttons also allow you to magnify the image and pan. We found the zoomed quality quite good; even with small text at 10x maximum zoom.
With component video input we were happy with the picture produced using the AutoSet key, but with further tweaking of contrast and brightness as well as red and green we found we could improve color saturation and black levels.
The screen-door effect, so event in some LCD projectors, was minimal at 1.5 times the screen width. There was some tearing and artifacts when viewing 480i and the projector lacked the fine-tuning that gamma correction and color temperature provide when viewing different video sources.
Set-up for the S41 was equally straightforward. Use of the automatic keystone correction and AutoSet had us up and running in minutes. At first glance the picture was very similar to the S10 - crisp data and very acceptable video with no adjustments. Then we did a side-by-side comparison and the differences were very evident.
The extra 400 lumens of light output made the S41 stand out. The whites were much whiter and brighter and the reds really popped. We found the same tearing and artifacts when viewing video and the projector was noisy, but in eco-mode the S41 was quieter and brighter than the S10 in standard mode. Although the contrasts are the same, the extra brightness of the S41 makes the blacks appear blacker than the S10's.
The camera unit for the S41 is, of course, its stand out feature. It can be used on top of the projector or easily detached and place on a nearby surface using the extension cable provided. To use, you simply select camera mode from the input selection on the remote and aim the lens at the document or object. There is manual focus ring to allow focus from 100 to 300mm and a gain adjustment to regulate the brightness of the picture.
When detached the camera has a tip resistant bar that extents at a 90-degree angle and also acts as a guide for placing a document. The lens, which can be rotated to change the orientation of the picture, is on an extendable arm that is also hinged so that it can be raised or lowered to adjust the picture size.
We tested the camera with several small 3-dimensional objects and various printed documents and drawings. The results were impressive. The depth of focus when viewing objects was excellent and, when viewing documents and drawings, all but the smallest text and thinnest lines were easily read on the projected image. We also tried turning the head sideways to view detail on a piece of furniture and it worked equally well even when hand held. The camera does not have its own light, so some room light is needed to illuminate the objects for the camera.
This camera is slick - for the right presenter. The design is sleek and the implementation elegant. You could easily envision a lawyer presenting evidence to a jury or an archeology or art instruction showing objects to a class.
For routine presentations and occasional video, the S10 performed well with data. Video is not of home theater quality as there is no control for color temperature or gamma correction and there was some tearing and artifacts when viewing 480i with some material. Aside from the brightness, the S41 was not markedly different.
The S41's camera is an innovative, versatile feature for the presenter who really has a need for presenting documents and 3-D objects. The advantage of the integrated design is its compactness and portability. Hence, if you're mobile and can benefit from a camera, it's the only way to go.
We were struck by our not uncommon experience of having two projectors that we would have been equally happy with had we not compared them side-by-side. It once again highlighted the importance of personal preference and tuning your projector selection to your actual needs.
Although the S10 is a good product for mobile data use, it has formidable competition among the sub-$1000 projectors. We found the S41 a better value considering its higher brightness, zoom lens and document camera feature and in that regard the S41 stands alone because of its unique characteristics.