If you need a data projector which is truly portable, yet has the flexibility to operate with diverse data sources, perhaps the Toshiba EW25 is the machine for you.
Projectors are placed at a distance of three metres from a test screen and zoomed to a screen size of 100 inches where possible. (We calculate expected brightness at 100 inches if this size is not achievable.) Brightness is measured around the screen in order to determine average brightness and variance. We also use a chequerboard pattern to measure the contrast ratio of black to white regions. Ambient light is subtracted from all brightness measurements before calculations and comparisons are made.
DisplayMate software is used to assist in assessing colour quality and sharpness of static images. We also consider the performance of the machine with video output. Fast action and animated films are used to assess refresh times, skin tones, solid and graded colours and borders.
We assess the useability of the device including menu use and options, set-up, and connectivity options. Fan noise is also a consideration. In the case of a network projector such as this, we also do a simple check to ensure that a wired network connection can be achieved when linking a single projector to a single computer.
Design and features
With black with silver trimmings, the EW25 is designed for portability. It has a slide-out carry handle and is additionally supplied with a padded carry bag with a pocket for cables and other accessories. The lens can be protected by a sliding panel when not in use. Mounting holes allow for the device to be installed permanently on a ceiling bracket. The only thing that detracts from the aesthetic of this machine is the warning stickers plastered across it warning of dangers such as heat and bright lights.
This 2600 lumen projector can display resolutions up to 1280x800 pixels. The machine has an extremely short throw making it excellent for smaller rooms, rear projection or where you want to avoid viewers being between the projector and the screen. At a distance of only 1.59 metres we were able to project a 100-inch image. Networking software is supplied and it is Windows Vista compatible.
The projection engine is a DLP unit which we expect to provide an excellent contrast ratio. There is no sign of an air filter in the unit so you will want keep the unit in clean areas -- sadly this may be hard to ensure with a machine designed for portable use. Lamp replacement should be a simple process as only three Phillips head screws need be removed.
Data can be sent to the machine via one of two VGA ports, along with a shared audio jack. There is also VGA and audio out to an auxiliary monitor and speaker set. You can also connect via RCA plugs to your DVD player or VCR. S-video and network connectivity are also supported. A USB port allows direct display of JPEG and MPEG files without connection to a PC.
The machine itself has nearly as many buttons as the remote control -- so you can still operate the machine if you can't find the remote -- which also contains a laser pointer. The remote also has an alphanumeric keypad and access to other advanced controls behind a folding panel. The remote can also double as a handheld mouse -- this is a great idea which uses a relay device which plugs into your laptop's USB port.
Toshiba are trying hard to please internationally with a user manual in five languages, and a menu system with 23 languages. It's just a pity that these big companies never seem to have native speakers proofread the instructions. (At least we get some amusement!)
The brightness was relatively even across the screen, but surprisingly the contrast ratio was no better than a 3LCD projector. The colour was very impressive when compared to the 3LCD units we have reviewed recently; there was a depth and richness that gave us the impression we were viewing a CRT screen rather than a projected image. The only colour fault we noticed was that the colours were a little dark at times.
Poor screen refresh times is clearly a thing of the past for DLP projectors -- we had no issues, (except when running over a 10/100kbps network). The projected images showed sharp borders between colours and good colour grading. The speaker volume was exceptional (loud enough to actually be useful) and the fan emitted very little distracting sound.
Networking was very easy to set up and the supplied software allows the user to specify which windows are transmitted to the projector. Screen updating was surprisingly smooth and quick over a 10/100 network allowing for excellent presentation quality.
However we were unable to project full screen video via network, although there is an option to take an MPEG or AVI input rather than the computer desktop and this does play nicely across a Gigabit connection (but the image is relatively small as specified by the resolution of the file).
The Toshiba EW25 will set you back about AU$3,699. There is a three-year warranty which tends to relieve any concerns I might have about DLP reliability and the 90-day replacement guarantee ensures you don't get stuck with a dud from the beginning.
Running costs depend on whether you operate in standard or economy mode. Economy mode reduces screen brightness by 20 percent, but increases lamp life by 50 percent -- 2000 hours up to 3000 hours. Expect to pay 39c per hour (or 26c in economy mode) towards electricity and the replacement lamp (AU$699 each).
There are currently no prices available for this product.