Inside the sleek, no-nonsense, silver-and-black case is a Digital Light Processing (DLP) engine from Texas Instruments that produces XGA images. The TDP-T95U weighs a relatively heavy 6.4 pounds and measures 11.8 by 8.6 by 3.9 inches, making it a bit larger than most other projectors in the XGA budget category. The projector's size allows for some mobility, but it's better for traveling short distances; the 3.8-pound HP mp3320 is a better choice if portability is a chief concern. Toshiba provides a well-cushioned albeit large case that easily accommodates the projector with plenty of room for accessories or even an ultraportable laptop.
A unique, pop-off cap covers the lens and gives the front of the projector a clean look. Focus and zoom dials aren't labeled, but they're easy to access on top of the projector and work smoothly. The TDP-T95U projects images ranging from 2.5 to 25 feet (diagonal), and it works with computer images as well as high-def TV images. We appreciate the Toshiba TDP-T95U's automatic keystone correction, which the HP mp3320 lacks, and we like that the control panel includes a dedicated button for enabling the feature. Also found on the control panel are the volume adjustment for the projector's weak 1-watt speaker, an input switch button, and controls for navigating the onscreen menu (OSM). The included remote is large and fully featured, with a numeric keypad, which is required for the projector's antitheft password feature. Our chief complaint about the remote is that its large tilting button enables you to control the mouse pointer but can't be used to navigate the OSM--there's another set of arrows for that.
The Toshiba TDP-T95's large form factor affords lots of space for input options. In addition to the standard ports for analog, composite video, S-Video, and audio, there are also a monitor-out connector that outputs to a monitor screen, a second computer input, and two RCA-style audio inputs. The three-pronged AC cable and the computer video cable are both 10 feet long--typical cords are about 5 feet--giving you plenty of room to place the projector. We were disappointed, however, that composite video and S-Video cables aren't included with the projector.
In our Labs tests, the TDP-T95U put out 1,976 ANSI lumens, just 10 percent below the always-inflated advertised claim of 2,200. We especially liked the Toshiba's low-power mode, which dropped the fan noise to near-whisper levels yet still delivered more than 1,600 lumens, which is more than the HP mp3135 offers in full power mode, and is plenty of light to handle all but the brightest conference rooms. The TDP-T95U produced a 478:1 contrast ratio, which is good for a DLP projector and markedly above that of LCD projectors such as the Epson PowerLite 765c. Rather than using a five-segment color wheel, as the HP mp3320 does, Toshiba tries to get the best color balance with new color correction circuitry designed to produce a more natural image. Unfortunately, it did not fare well in our tests; greens were markedly shifted in a pale yellowish direction and blue was slightly shifted toward green.
The TDP-T95U's slow start-up and shutdown times also disappointed; it took 56 seconds to warm up and longer than 2 minutes to cool down. Compared to the Epson PowerLite 765c's 23-second warm-up and 4-second cool-down, the Toshiba TDP-T95U's stats are unimpressive. Toshiba claims that the projector can cool down instantly if the plug is pulled, but this feature is barely mentioned in the manual.
At $299, the TDP-T95U's replacement lamp is one of the most affordable we have seen; they typically cost around $400. The bulb should last 2,000 hours, yielding a consumables cost of 15 cents per hour, considerably lower than the 23 cents per hour needed by the Epson PowerLite 765c.
Toshiba offers a two-year warranty, a year less than the industry average, covering parts and labor and an average 90 days for the lamp. Toshiba's Web site has a wide array of resources, including a downloadable user manual as well as an animated tour of the projector's features. There are also Toshiba's Ask Iris knowledge base of technical solutions and a link for support bulletins. If you need personal attention, you can access an online help feature, send e-mail message to a technician, or call a toll-free phone number.