When Toshiba first introduced the TLP-S30U LCD projector nearly a year ago, it was not only very bright--the company claimed 1,400 ANSI lumens--it also had an extremely aggressive price of just $1,299. Since then, however, a handful of competitors have dropped their prices to the same level. And although the TLP-S30U still ranks among the brightest entry-level, SVGA projectors we've seen, newer models--especially smaller, lighter DLP projectors, such as the Dell 2100MP--have largely surpassed it in both features and performance.
The Toshiba TLP-S30U has a simple, box-style design. For a budget LCD projector, its dimensions--10.8 by 8.1 by 3.1 inches (W, D, H)--and weight (4.9 pounds) are about average, but compared to like-priced DLP projectors, the TLP-S30U is on the big-and-heavy side. Its travel weight, including accessories, comes in at 6 pounds, while its black nylon carrying case has a moderate amount of cushioning, despite being surprisingly compact.
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The Toshiba is slightly large and heavy compared to similarly priced DLP projectors.
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Don't miss the TLP-S30U's keystone correction--press the Auto Keystone button on these controls and watch it go.
Setting up the projector is easy, but it's not as automatic as we'd like. The projector cannot automatically detect whether it is connected to a computer or a video source; you must press the Source button and toggle through the possibilities, then push the Auto Set button so that the projector can choose the optimal phase angle and frequency.
The projector's lens protrudes slightly from the left side of the front panel; a thin lens cap on a tether provides a modicum of protection. The optical zoom range of 1.2X is average for these projectors, but the projector must sit nearly seven feet from the screen to cast a one-meter image, one of the longest distances for the group of projectors that we tested.
The Toshiba has by far the best keystone correction we've seen. If your projector's image is trapezoidal instead of square, like a keystone, just press the Auto Keystone button on either the remote control or the top of the projector. The unit automatically calculates the angle and adjusts the image to a rectangular shape. It works perfectly.
The Toshiba TLP-S30U's basic set of connectors lies on the back panel: VGA and component video (with an optional cable) through the VGA port, plus composite video and S-Video. Toshiba graciously provides both computer and stereo composite-video cables for the audio jack. The small, monaural, 1-watt speaker can get quite loud, but it sounds tinny. The TLP-S30U's VGA-out connector is a nice treat; it lets you display an image simultaneously on another monitor or projector.
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The Toshiba's connectors are basic but functional.
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Want a laser pointer or a way to control your laptop? This remote doesn't have it--and you'll have to pay an extra $139 to get those features.
The remote control included with the TLP-S30U controls all of the capabilities of the projector, but it cannot interface with your laptop for useful tasks, such as advancing to the next PowerPoint slide. Nor does it have a laser pointer. Toshiba will sell you a $139 Mouse Remote that fills both these voids, but that's small comfort.
The TLP-S30U needs a little more maintenance than other projectors we've tested. The air filter requires cleaning every 50 hours of use--about twice as often as most projectors. The company also recommends replacing the air intake, the exhaust fans, and the air filter every two to three years. Replacing the bulb module requires a little finesse and the loosening of two screws. To lengthen the 2,000-hour life of the $388 lamp, you can set the projector to a low-power mode. Unfortunately, this mode lasts only until you turn off the projector.