Toshiba 2006 Product Launch

Amidst the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside, Toshiba showed off it's latest high-tech goodies.

The big news in the projector segment was the new ET range and specifically the ET20. Toshiba is labelling the ET20 as a “Movie Machine”. The ET20 attempts to be an all in one movie solution, wrapped up in a stylish black box.

Although the ET20 looks like a nicely styled projector, it’s actually much more. Lurking inside the chassis is a DVD player that will playback all your movie discs as well as your DivX collection. There’s also 5.1-channel sound crammed in. But the real party trick is Toshiba’s Super Close Projection technology, that allows this projector to throw a 65cm image at only 20cm from the screen.

Of course the phrase “Jack of all trades” springs to mind, but I don’t like to pre-judge products before I’ve tested them properly. That said, when I asked to hear the sound I was told that the sample on show didn’t have the speakers inside, which didn’t bode too well.

But the biggest problem that I can see with the ET20 is that it’s only using a 480p DLP chip inside the projector. Not only is that not High Definition, it’s not even PAL Standard Definition. I questioned Toshiba about the decision to go with a 480p solution and was told that it was a decision made purely on cost and that going with a 576p chip would have added a couple of hundred pounds to the price.

Connection wise you get a single HDCP compliant HDMI port, component video, S-Video and composite video inputs. There’s also a USB port so you can stream DivX movies or JPEG slide shows from a USB memory key.

The estimated price of £1,299 seems pretty reasonable considering the functionality, but the low resolution is definitely an issue. On the plus side, Toshiba did tell me that there is a 720p ET model on the road map already – I know which one I’d rather have.

Also on show was Toshiba’s new LED based DLP projector. This little beauty is absolutely tiny and weighs only 565g. The LED light source provides 10,000 hours of use, making the total cost of ownership very low.

Although there are regular inputs on offer, Toshiba highlighted the USB port, allowing you to run presentations directly from a USB key. Used in this way, the FF1 offers one of the most portable mobile presentation setups available.

Running on battery power the FF1 will give you two hours of burn time, and let’s face it, if your presentation goes on longer than two hours, your audience is probably asleep anyway. With a price of £748 including VAT, the FF1 offers a compelling option for the travelling salesman or marketeer.

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