This neat and lightweight projector is a new entrant in the low cost DLP stakes. Although not quite the cheapest of its kind around, it is available quite deeply discounted from its nominal price, and it is not quite the bare bones projector you might expect.
Rather than use the lowest resolution DLP chip, the 480p DarkChip2,the MT-400 uses the Matterhorn DMD, which is natively a 576p widescreen device. It makes no pretence of being HD compatible (although HD signals can be compressed down so that the projector will display them),but 576p is craftily chosen to fit the vertical resolution of PAL DVD with no scaling required, and from experience this generally gives very clean, sharply delineated DVD picture quality.
The Toshiba has a slightly less ambitious 4x speed 6 segment colour wheel than some less expensive Toshiba models, which for some people translates into reduced levels of colour fringing effects. Contrast ratio is 3,000:1, which in unexceptional for a DLP model, but often appears to go a lot further than 3000:1 does with LCD technology. TrueVision scaling and deinterlacing is employed.
In other respects this is a simple enough projector. Apart from the usual range of analogue inputs, including component and a 15-pin D-Sub computer input, an HDCP encrypted PVI-D is available, which will work with the output from an HDMI-equipped source component, though without the auto-negotiate features that makes an HDMI-to- HDMI connection so seamless.
With a hot running lamp, and a lowweight, compact case, it's unsurprising that noise levels are a little more intrusive in practice than the claimed 32dB implies - though that figure is in economy mode only. In fact the noise is not that high but it has an identifiable tonal quality, which makes it more obvious.
The solution to noise from any projector is to keep it away from the viewer, and preferably behind rather than in front, where it will interfere directly with the sound from the speakers at the front of the room.
In this case, a 3m-wide picture can be thrown from a maximum of 5.6m,and with side venting to dispose of excess heat, most rooms will work with the projector on a rear wall shelf. Smaller rooms are unlikely to work with coffee table presentation if you really want a large screen experience.
The good news is that DLP is good when viewed from close quarters. The gaps between adjacent pixels is never too obvious, and even from close up, the picture is very sharp and clean. The Toshiba's TrueVision scaling will not be needed most of the time (unless you're using a non-DVD source),but deinterlacing is excellent, with well concealed staircasing of diagonals, low jitter subtitles, and cleanly executed motion artefacts.
Straight from the box, brightly lit screens tended to look rather yellow and bleached, which needs toning down through the colour set-up menus, especially in the brighter picture modes, but matters improve in the Theater mode. Alvin Gold