With the help of some clever LED lighting technology, Casio has managed to squeeze a surprisingly bright DLP projector into a lightweight and small unit. Although with the Casio XJ-A245 there's actually more than just a cool LED at work here – Casio adds a laser inside to create a hybrid laser/LED light source.
So the white light is actually an RGB composite of the outputs of a blue laser and a red LED, with the green element created using a phospor filter.
The result is a relatively powerful portable projector promising 2500 ANSI lumens of illumination, with an incredible 20,000 hours of bulb life. Note that Casio doesn’t altogether put its money where its mouth is here: the guarantee is for 3 years, or 6000 hours’ life. But that still exceed the 3000 or so hours of a normal bulb.
At just 2.2kg this modest Casio XJ-A245 projector weighs less than many 15in laptops, while its slim 43mm height also lends itself to easy carriage in the supplied padded nylon case.
On the rear panel are two inputs for computer use, HDMI and VGA, along with a composite video input on a 3.5mm mini-jack. You can also pipe video in over USB or, on this top model at least, via 802.11g wireless (using an included but separate USB dongle that you must first plug in below a screw-down hatch).
The latter two connection methods on the Casio XJ-A245 are Windows-only though, and won’t give full-speed, full-screen video. But they will be of use for more static presentations of still images.
A small infrared remote control is included (with IR receivers front and back of the projector) or you can adjust settings from a range of seven membrane buttons – plus a navigation compass – on the projector’s top.
We found setup of the Casio XJ-A245 to be very straightforward, with auto keystone correction to remove one installation chore. Focus is manual using + and – controls on a fine-stepped range, and a 2x optical zoom helps resize images to suit.
A short-throw lens means that huge images can be cast with the projector sited quite close to a screen or wall. Aided by the quick setup routine, we had a large and comparatively bright image 10-foot across on our test wall, all within a minute of switching on.
With less heat output than the traditional mercury lamps used in home of office projectors, the essential fans runs a little quieter too. It’s far from silent, but less noisy than many business projectors we’ve seen.
In terms of illuminatio, we found the Casio XJ-A245 brighter than any compact projector of just a couple of years ago, if a little behind what a regular projector of 3000+ lumens can provide. You can use the Casio XJ-A245 in daylight, for example, but colours will be somewhat washed out.
In darker settings, colours are natural enough with no obviously jaring primaries to upset the image, while fleshtones are rendered quite faithfully. And as a DLP prjector, there's none of the pixellation evident with LCD technology.
Our only real issue is one that probably won’t even affect most people. We noticed faint colour-wheel type visual artefacts, consisting of colourful rainbow spectrum flashes; this was seen almost subconsciously as fleeting flashes when blinking, sometimes evident in high-contrast areas. It was perhaps more evident when viewing black-and-white video footage, where the presence of any rainbow colouring stands out within monochrome video.
Most people, it seems, are blissfully unaware of these artefacts, so for the majority of viewers this may not even be noticed.
At a resolution of 1280x800, some high-definition video can be viewed without cropping or downsizing; and while full-HD must be reduced to fit we noticed no problems when projecting 1080p content from our MacBook Pro test laptop.
NEXT PAGE: Our expert verdict >>