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The world of home entertainment has come an awful long way since the days of the flickering, clattering cine projector and it’s set to enter a new era in 2006. The arrival of high definition broadcast and playback formats will revolutionise the way we watch television and films, and it has already been forcing the price of HD ready TVs and equipment down over the past few months.
You can now buy decent 40 or 42in high definition televisions for less than two grand, which is quite some advance on just a few of years ago, when standard definition gas plasma screens were costing upwards of four to five thousand pounds.
The future for film buffs is bright. But it’s not just televisions that are getting the high definition price drop treatment these days. Projectors are joining in the party too. Toshiba’s MT700 is one of this wave of HD home cinema projectors and though not particularly new to the market, its new low price persuaded us it was worth a second look.
At first, it doesn’t come across as anything special. It’s pretty bulky for starters, doesn’t look incredibly attractive, despite its iPod-white plastic cladding and, as with so many other more run of the mill business projectors, it’s based on Texas Instruments’ ubiquitous DLP technology.
But that’s where the predictability ends and the exciting stuff begins. A quick look at the connection panel on the rear reveals this is a projector with serious home cinema pretensions. There’s a set of standard phono component video inputs, a five plug GBRHV BNC input (for connecting your PC to via a VGA to BNC cable), one S-Video socket and the usual composite input. And next to all of all these, sitting on its own in an unassuming kind of way, is the projector’s HDMI socket.
This new connection ‘standard’ is basically the same as DVI, but it carries audio signals as well, eliminating the need for all those extra cables. To be honest I couldn’t really tell the difference between a picture sent over component video and one delivered via HDMI, but given that this is the standard that HD broadcasters will be using – Sky’s HD digibox will carry a socket when it starts broadcasting in HD later in the year – and the simplicity of the connection, you’ll probably end up using it by default eventually.