Lots to Love

Finer Points
One instance where a bit more noise might have been welcomed was for an enunciator to indicate power turn-on. As things were, the projector remained totally silent—without even starting the exhaust fan—for three full seconds after power was applied. This was especially confusing when turning on the projector from the remote control, since it was impossible to determine if the projector had actually received the IR command from the remote unless you could see the tiny power LED on top of the projector.

The remote control was rather unimpressive. Although extremely compact, complete with built-in laser pointer, the remote hid about half its controls under a swing-out cover that was extremely flimsy and not at all ergonomic. Fortunately, the on-screen menus that the remote control gave access to were better thought out than the remote itself. There were not as many options to tweak as are typically available on portable projectors, but the default behavior of the T701U was so good that most people would never suffer an urge to find any controls to adjust in the first place. If anything, simply hitting the “auto setup” button usually proved more than adequate.

The TLP-T701U
The one exception to the T701U’s “tweak-free” design pertains to the manner in which inputs were selected. Although the projector provided an auto-input-selection mode, it proved to be almost useless because the only input it ever selected was the PCMCIA slot, whether there was a card present or not. If a card was available, the projector chose it as the preferred source; if there was no card, the projector displayed a notice that no card was inserted and stopped scanning all other inputs. The only reliable way to select inputs was manually.

In addition to the aforementioned PCMCIA slot, the T701U also provided multi-standard composite and Y/C video inputs, as well as two VGA inputs that doubled as DTV Y/Pb/Pr component inputs. I think I would have preferred at least one set of component inputs that terminated in RCA connectors or BNC jacks, because many existing component sources export their signals in this manner. At the very least, Toshiba could have included a breakout cable, but they did not. A DVI input might also have been nice, but the analog front end in this projector was good enough that it probably would have made very little difference in image quality.

Control Close-Up
The TLP-T701U ships with a wireless LAN card and software that allows the projector to remotely receive images from a notebook computer. Sadly, I was unable to test this functionality as I do not use wireless networks. I have no doubt that images sourced from the network would have looked every bit as good as those taken from a VGA port, but frame update latency is a question that deserved investigation. A standard memory card can also be plugged into the PC slot to display a JPEG slide show. Software was included with the projector to create such slide shows.

A minimal set of digital image manipulation features were available from the remote control, including freeze-frame and digital zoom. The remote also provided obligatory mouse duties for the host computer, although it did so directly through an IR sensor that plugged into a USB port on the computer. Most users will prefer a real mouse to the flat, pad-type joystick on the Toshiba’s remote control; however, the beauty of USB input devices is that both the remote sensor and a real mouse can be used simultaneously without having to switch devices or modes.

All told, I was quite satisfied with the Toshiba TLP-T701U as a projector. A bit more attention might have been paid to the fabrication of some plastic components on the case and remote control, but the T701U delivered the goods where it mattered most: image quality. The color balance and contrast scale were incredibly good for a portable LCD projector. Just leave the document camera in the showroom.

Kevin M. Kilbride is a multimedia producer in Lompoc, California.

Toshiba America
Web site: www.toshiba.com

Source: AVVMMP