Movie Theater Video for the Masses

Toshiba TDP MT500: Objective Tests With Factory Settings

Test patterns

Blacks were fairly good and there was no problem seeing the different levels of white at the bottom of the test pattern. We had no problem with the gray levels either, but it did seem to us that the brightness was not what the vendor claimed it to be. In cinema mode, the image was a little dark. The other two modes, video and PC are not progressive enough in their presets to compensate for this lack of brightness without reducing the quality of the blacks and whites. So it's preferable to change the brightness value in the dedicated menu.

As for color saturation, it was satisfactory, but the colors weren't very clearly delineated.

The increase in image quality in terms of sharpness and stability provided by the high-resolution 12° DDR DMD is very visible. All patterns were clear enough, both vertically and horizontally. The right side of the test pattern trembled slightly, but less than it did on all the other projectors we tested. We saw no problems with geometry at 16/9 and 4/3.

After our series of objective tests based on the factory adjustments, we noticed a slight lack of image brightness, which increased with projections onto a screen over 79" (two meters) in size. But some tweaking via the menu corrected this little problem quickly without too much loss of black depth. We also increased the sharpness a little to get better definition and add relief to the overall image. We also added a little color saturation, but that's a matter of taste. If you like your colors warm, don't hesitate to set the color saturation level to 3.

Toshiba TDP MT500: Subjective Tests

Optimizations before subjective tests

Cinema mode
Contrast: 4
Brightness: 5
Color: +3
Sharpness: +1

Subjective Tests

The TDP MT500 performed the best of all the projectors we tested. The image was sharp and fluid, and even in the darkest scenes in our test excerpts, everything was clearly visible. The high-resolution matrix and the video processors do an excellent job. We couldn't make out a single pixel, though we were sitting about 10.8 ft (3.3 meters) from the screen, which has a diagonal of a little over 79" (two meters). The overall image balance was very good.

This really is an excellent projector at all levels. With the excerpt from Finding Nemo, the image looked very "movie-theater-like," with the pixels disappearing to show perfectly smooth shapes and colors. The backgrounds swarmed with detail and had exemplary stability, and we could even make out certain things that get lost with projectors with lower resolution.

The MT500 really showed its superiority on wide shots, which had exemplary definition and stability. In the dressing-room scenes in Gladiator, all the objects stood out from the shadows as if the image had been heavily boosted. The arena-entry scene simply exploded off the screen. The richness of the colors and the subtlety of the tints made these few minutes a great moment in film. Even Minority Report, always difficult to render, was in top form. The original image, always somewhat grainy on other projectors, looked like it had been cleaned of all defects. The raising of the tubes resulted in the best-defined image in our test. The contrast was excellent. The second excerpt, in the greenhouse, was just as incredible. The MT500 performed astoundingly well in 90% of the scenes. Even to the point where, for the first time, the interior of the greenhouse didn't look as if it was fogged up by the exterior light. The contrast ratio is simply fabulous for this price range. It was a pleasure to rediscover these scenes, and that's really saying something if you've seen the movie in a commercial theater.