As one of the few truly 'HD Ready' projector in its class, Toshiba's new MT700 gets a healthy head start over its rivals. But can it hold on to its lead to the finish?
In spite of its essentially fat and plain rectangular shape, the MT700 still looks attractive thanks to its tasteful cream/silver finish, glinting buttonry and subtly rounded edges. It's superbly solid build, too.
The MT700 ticks all the right boxes courtesy of an HDMI input, a set of standard phono component video inputs, and five BNCs for true RGB HV connection. The customary lower quality S- and composite video options are also present and correct.
The MT700 houses Texas Instruments' HD2 chipset, which we've consistently found perfectly suited to film playback - not least because of its high and widescreen 1280 x 720 native resolution. In fact, it's this chipset in conjunction with the component and HDMI inputs that earns the MT700 its key 'HD Ready' wings, according to the specs recently laid down by industry body EICTA.
Other tricks helping the picture out are Faroudja's DCDi deinterlacing system, the 'O ' 10-bit scaler designed to make fast moving sequences clearer, and a claimed 2500:1 contrast ratio.
There are picture adjustments galore in the MT700's onscreen menus, meanwhile. Highlights include separate adjustment for the red, green, blue, yellow and white colour components, a noise-reducing filter, white balance finetuning, and the facility to switch the Faroudja processing between Truelife and Noise Reduction modes.
An immaculately designed TV-style remote control - complete with backlight - works in perfect harmony with some of the best organised and presented onscreen menus I've seen. The MT700 is also a dream to set up, thanks in particular to an unusually flexible zoom that can deliver a huge image to owners of small and large rooms alike.
The MT700's images mostly rock. One of their greatest strengths is their colour tone, as the projector handles bright and muted hues alike with equal confidence, and picks out subtleties of gradation lost on the vast majority of its sub-£3k peers. Even dark areas manage to look extremely textured and multidimensional. All this immediately helps the picture look more involving and solid.
There's not a trace of visible image structure, meanwhile, be it blanking lines, pixel grids or jagged edges - even during TV viewing. What's more, this uniformity is achieved without any serious compromising of fine detail response, and without causing any overt noise, haloing, or ghosting around harsh edges. All of this amply shows the combined worth of the Faroudja and O processing systems.
General noise levels are reasonably well suppressed, even using the digital inputs (provided you rein in the brightness and contrast to more sensible levels).
In an ideal world I might have liked a little bit more black level response, and slightly better suppression of DLP's fizzing noise over horizontal motion and rainbow effect issues. But the overall impression is still overwhelmingly positive.
The MT700 isn't perfect - and certainly leaves me with one or two compelling reasons to consider saving up to hit the £3k plus market. But at the same time it's hard to be downbeat about any projector that brings true HD readiness to the sub-£3k world. Recommended.