We've been mightily impressed by some of Toshiba's supposedly lower-ranking projectors - so we come to the company's flagship MT8 model with hopes raised high.
The Mt8 looks quite plush in some ways - a bit cheesy in others. The plush bit comes from the silky white finish. The cheesy bit is the rather bog-standard sculpting, which shows all the design imagination of plasterboard. In fact, the more we look at it, the more we feel like we've seen this particular brand of blandness before... ah, yes: the MT8 is a dead ringer for some InFocus Screenplay models. And wouldn't you just know it, it turns out that the Mt8 is more or less a rebadged version of InFocus's old Screenplay 7200.
To some extent, this is no bad thing; the 7200 was one of the finest DLP projectors we'd seen. On the other hand, the key word back there was 'old'; the 7200 has now been replaced in the Screenplay range by a new 7205 model (reviewed elsewhere in this group test), potentially making the Mt8 a man out of time...
In with the new
The MT8's connections pass muster, at any rate. Leading the charge is a DVI jack primed for Sky high-definition and DVI-bearing DVD players, thanks to its HDCP compatibility. There are also two sets of component video inputs for analogue high-def and progressive scan sources, all the usual lower quality video options, plus a standard PC jack and two 12V trigger outputs.
Driving the MT8 is Texas Instruments' HD2 DLP chipset, the main features of which are a fair-to-middling contrast ratio of 1,400:1, HD-friendly native widescreen resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels, and an impressive 1,000 ANSI Lumens of brightness. Also on hand is Faroudja's DCDi processing.
While setting the MT8 up, we were immediately taken by the flexible lens array, especially when it comes to delivering a truly large image from a relatively short throw distance. We also got mileage out of one or two quite unusual setup features, including noise reduction, gamma presets, boosting of the chroma and luma detail levels, and Cross Colour Suppression, which reduces noise by processing the video signal to remove colour information from its luma portion.
Kill Bill 2 revealed the MT8 to be overall a very talented affair. Everything that made Screenplay's 7200 such a star is present and correct - including, most notably, a wonderfully natural colour tone that makes even tricky fleshtones like those of the Bride and Bill as they face each other across his garden table seem 100 per cent believable.
This naturalism is matched by solid, noiseless colour saturations, too, ensuring that vibrant shots like those of Elle's sports car as it hurtles towards Bud's trailer achieve maximum drama and dynamism.
The various shots of chop socky action between the Bride and Pai Mei, meanwhile, show the MT8 to be unusually talented at suppressing DLP's tendency to cover horizontal motion with dotty noise. Similarly, green dot crawl is kept to a minimum, leaving plenty of cinematic depth to night-time Kill Bill 2 shots such as the Bride's arrival at Bill's house.
Things start to slip when it comes to fine details, however. The desert around Bud's trailer doesn't look quite so textured and three-dimensional as on one or two rivals. Also, although aided by the lack of green dot noise, it has to be said that dark scenes don't enjoy the deepest black levels in this group test, and so can occasionally look a little one-dimensional.
We also have to report that the MT8's cooling fans aren't the quietest, even using the projector's 'Low Power' mode.
In the end, the MT8 becomes another victim of the relentless passage of time. It first appeared in 2003, and since then other models have made its once remarkable performance look merely average. Maybe it's time Toshiba and a few other brands realised that their reluctance to update higher-end projectors as quickly as their budget ones neither makes any sense nor wins them any friends...