[Note: Star rating posted 3/28/05, and value rating is based on average street prices.]
The Toshiba TDP-MT800 (henceforth "MT800") is the new high-performance home theater projector in Toshiba's line. It features the popular 1280x720 resolution HD2+ DLP chip. Thus it is in the same general performance class as other projectors based on the HD2+ chipe like the SharpVision Z12000 and the Marantz VP12S3, but with a much lower retail price tag.
The MT800 is also marketed by the original manufacturer, InFocus, as the InFocus Screenplay 7205. The only physical difference between the two units is the case color-the Toshiba edition is off-white and the Infocus is medium silver-gray. Those who are planning ceiling mounted installations often prefer the white color because it blends with a white ceiling and becomes less visible in the room.
The MT800 is rated at 1100 ANSI lumens and 2200:1 contrast. It features a 5x speed, seven segment color wheel. The unit weighs 9.5 lbs, and with a solidly constructed handle integrated into the casework it is suitable for both portable use as well as fixed home theater installation. The casework is in fact identical to the earlier edition Toshiba TDP-MT8U (a.k.a. InFocus Screenplay 7200) that we reviewed about eighteen months ago. Other than the switch from the HD2 to HD2+ chip, this new and improved projector features a new color wheel, improved contrast, improved optical performance, and HDMI compatibility, and a lower retail price.
Connectivity: The connection panel on the rear of the unit offers a wide variety of input options including an M1-DA port, a 15-pin VGA, two sets of three RCA component jacks, two S-video ports, a composite jack, and a D5 video input. There are also two 12-volt triggers to control other features such as lighting, drapes, and screen deployment.
Compatibility: Signal compatibility includes DVI-HDCP, component and RGB HDTV 1080p, 1080i, 720p, EDTV component 576p, 480p, standard component video 480i, 576i, S-video and composite. Color systems include NTSC, NTSC 4.43, PAL B, G, H, I, M, and N, and SECAM. Computer compatibility includes digital and analog PC and Macintosh up to SXGA 1280x1024.
Lens: The MT800 has a manual 1.38x zoom and focus lens. It throws a 100" diagonal 16:9 format image from a distance range of about 11 to 15 feet. Ideal placement for this screen size would be at a throw distance from lens to screen of about 14 feet-as far back as possible without hitting the extreme end of the zoom range. Why? When you have the latitude to do so, it is advantageous to keep the angle of the thrown image as narrow as possible so that it bounces off the screen in a more uniform manner. Very short throw distances will cause light hitting the outside portions of the screen to bounce off at more oblique angles than the light with strikes the center of the screen. However, we also like to avoid the extreme ends of zoom lens, especially those with longer zoom ranges, since they tend to be optically more precise toward the middle.
Picture control: As with the earlier version, the picture out of the box is impressive and no adjustments were needed to get what most people would consider to be a great picture. Yet we still found some room for improvement, and slight adjustments to brightness, contrast, and color enabled us tweakers to get our two cents in. The projector has a wide assortment of image adjustment controls and three user programmable memories.