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Toshiba TDP-S30U

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Toshiba TLP-S30U Projector Toshiba TLP-S30U
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400:1 Contrast Ratio
1400 Lumens
Street Price: n/a

The Toshiba TLP-S30U LCD projector is designed for the presenter who wants a lightweight, mobile solution at an attractive price. At only 4.8 pounds and dimensions of 3.0 x 10.9 x 7.8, this sleek, bright, versatile projector is as light as any LCD projector currently offered. In the sub-5 pound category it competes with 70 other projectors of which 11 are LCD based.

With a manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of $1,423 and a street price of $1,099 the Toshiba TLP-S30U projector is the least expensive LCD projector in its weight class at the time of this posting, although there are DLP products at a lesser price. However, before you make any decision based on price, we'll give you a feel for the performance and features offered by the Toshiba S30U.

The Toshiba TLP-S30U, hereinafter referred to as the S30, offers SVGA (800 x 600) resolution. SVGA is the lowest resolution currently offered for data projectors and its primary benefit is cost. If your need is presentation material and video, SVGA will serve you well. However, if your presentation need is text and data or you want a higher quality video experience, higher resolution will noticeably enhance the experience. At present the average cost difference between SVGA and XGA (1024 x 768) projectors in the 4 to 5 pound class is about $1500.

The S30 includes a 1.2x manual zoom lens that allows you to adjust the size of the projector image by 20% at any given distance. A nice thing to have if you're a mobile presenter.

Other features of the S30 are support for composite video, S-video, and HDTV compatibility (1080i, 720p), an Automatic Digital Keystone Correction (+/- 15 degrees) to automatically square up an image when your projector and screen do not line up properly, 10X Digital Zoom and Pan that let's you zoom in on any presented material, and a monitor loop-through for local viewing of data.

Ambient Noise
As is common with small bright portable projectors, there is generally more fan noise than a comparable projector in a larger box. The S30 is no exception. However, as with most projectors today, an economy mode fan is offered that reduces lumen output by about 20% and reduces fan noise accordingly.

The S30 uses a high-pressure mercury vapor lamp with a 2000-hour life. Replacement lamps list at $439 with the street price at about $388, pretty expensive for a projector in the $1,100 price range. Operating the lamp in Economy Mode will increase the life of the lamp and help reduce your operating costs.

The connector panel includes ports for computer control of the projector using an RS-232 cable (cable not included), audio input (mini-jack) that drives a 1-watt speaker, video (RCA), and S-Video (cable not included). There is also an external monitor connector for local viewing on a monitor and an RGB/Component video connector. This latter connector is dual purpose and allows either a direct connect of your computer or component video using a HD-15 to component video adaptor that is not provided.

S-video is a better signal source than composite video for image quality; however, since all video devices support composite and only some support S-video, manufacturers tend to provide only the composite video cable. This is a practice that should change as most users seeking projection equipment have access to better quality video. In any case, if you have an S-video source, get the S-video cable. You'll get a better image.

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