Laser/LED Portable Projector
August 1, 2012
Casio is back with the latest version of their Slim series projectors that incorporate a hybrid laser/LED illumination system. The Model XJ-A146 is rated at 2,500 lumens with a native resolution of 1024x768, and it comes in a sleek case that has a modest footprint (11.7" x 8.3") and a height of only 1.7". Color balance is improved over previous models, but fan noise is still high in its brightest mode, so audience distraction is still an issue when room conditions demand a bright image.
The XJ-A146 is designed for mobile presenters who face a variety of projection environments. The unusual 2:1 zoom lens allows for a wide range of placement options, and the included software and wireless connection hardware make the XJ-A146 a solid performer when it is inconvenient to drag computers and cables along on a presentation. It is shipped with a carrying case that has a roomy external pouch, and its very fast on/off times make it quick to set up and shut down when pressed for time.
The Viewing Experience
Unlike mercury lamp projectors, the XJ-A146 uses a combination of laser and LED to produce red, blue, and green illumination of the DLP chip. When you switch the projector on, there is about a ten-second delay while the zoom lens adjusts to your last setting, and then a fully lit image appears without the usual gradual increase in brightness. In previous models, there was a noticeable shading of red and green on the left and right sides of the image, respectively. However, the XJ-A146 has a barely detectable red/green shading which has no impact on video performance and little on data images.
Like its predecessors, the XJ-A146 exhibits a 10% decrease in brightness during its initial fifteen minutes of use. However, once the brightness level stabilizes, it comes close to its rating with 2,110 lumens at its brightest setting. Data images are sharp and noise free, but they lack color saturation. Since saturation control is only available for composite video, the only option is to fiddle with color balance controls, and they have only minor impact on saturation.
Video images are good although the 1,800:1 contrast rating makes it problematic to render distinct highlight and shadow detail. Like data images, video lacks saturation although flesh tones are well balanced. The XJ-A146's one-watt speaker is adequate for a small audience if operating in Eco mode, but in Normal or Bright mode, fan noise is a distraction for those seated within six feet of the projector.