The Toshiba ET20 introduces a couple of fairly new concepts to the home projector market, both of which are designed to improve the quality and convenience for home cinema users. First up the ET20 includes its own built-in DVD player with full DVD controls, so you no longer have to connect an external unit if you want to enjoy the latest movies on a large screen. Accompanying the visuals are built-in surround sound, including a subwoofer for bass effect although it’s difficult to hear much impact on the low end of the scale. Audio here is certainly capable in emergencies, and in terms of offering a projector that you can carry around without the need for external gear it’s a necessary addition. This is never a replacement for a decent surround sound system though and to do justice to your movies you really need a proper setup.
The other interesting characteristic of the ET20 is Toshiba’s Extreme Short Throw (EST) technology. This gives projectors like the ET20 the ability to project a screen at around 2.5 meters (100 inches) diagonal while sitting just over a meter away from a screen or wall. As such the ET20 isn’t designed to sit behind the viewers like most conventional projectors, but in front, in the middle of the room. This actually works in its favour, particularly if you don’t have room that’s ideally designed for a home cinema setup since you can get the projector up and running without having to rearrange the furniture.
Despite what look like middle-of-the-road specifications, 1200 lumens and support up to just 480p, the image is actually very impressive, most probably down to the EST and the unit’s close proximity to the screen. Visuals are clear and sharp for both movies and games, the projector’s primary purpose, but you will find that it’s not really suitable for displaying text for presentations and the like. A maximum data resolution of 854 x 480 is hardly top of the line and text can be quite blocky and difficult to read, even after tweaking the settings.
You’ll find four presets for changing the aspect ratio between widescreen and standard, but notably there is no zoom on the ET20. This isn’t as big a problem as you’d expect though, since adjusting the unit’s distance from the screen by only an inch or two has a dramatic effect on the size of the projection.
You’ll find a range of connectivity here, including composite, component, S-video and HDMI, along with VGA for data. Unfortunately there’s no DVI interface and HDMI is of limited use with the 480p max resolution but overall there are plenty of options for the modern user.
Overall the ET20 is an excellent projector, if a little expensive. The built-in DVD player and EST technology no doubt go some way to justifying the £1200-odd you’ll end up paying, and it is without a doubt a cinema-goers dream, both in terms of quality and convenience. If you can wait a while before you buy you might see prices drop slightly, but if you do shell out now it’s fair to say that you won’t be disappointed.