October 3, 2011
Image Quality Casio has really improved the image performance of its laser/LED light engine. Earlier models had random green and red stripe effects and color balance was poor. The XJ-M255 has put those issues to rest with very well balanced images that are spot on in flesh tones and have appropriate presence once brightness is reduced and contrast increased a bit. Composite and S-video have some controls available that HDMI and computer images do not (sharpness, saturation, and tint) so adjusting a composite image gives you some fine adjustments that can really optimize the result. That said, the digital and computer images look very good when their appropriate presets (Theater or Graphic) are selected. Dynamic range is a little restricted by the on/off contrast ratio of 1800:1, but highlights and shadows are rendered well enough to see details in each.
The color presets do a very good job of changing color balance depending on the particular preset purpose. For instance, the Theater preset adds just enough warmth to the image to produce flesh tones that are very realistic while the Graphics preset boosts brightness and contrast for text and numbers that pop off the screen. The XJ-M255's 1280x800 native resolution allows you to display bigger spreadsheets and text documents, but 16:9 format movies have minimal black bars at the top and bottom of the image.
The XJ-M255's optical system is well designed. The focus control is smooth and produces edge-to-edge sharpness that lower quality lenses cannot match. The zoom lens has a larger than usual range of 1.5:1 which gives you a considerable amount of flexibility when it comes to placing the projector in a room. For example, a 100" diagonal picture can be obtained from a throw range of 9.5 to 13.75 feet. Brightness is compromised by 15% at full telephoto, so keeping close to the wide-angle setting is desirable since overall brightness is already lower than rated.
Input Versatility Virtually every input format is accommodated by the XJ-M255: computers, composite video, component video, S-video, HDMI digital, and the audio associated with the analog video sources. There is also an RS-232 connector for LAN control and monitoring, and a USB connector for memory sticks and other storage devices that contain JPEG, ECA/PtG, or AVI formatted content, including PowerPoint files that have been converted to PtG format. To help with file conversion, EZ Converter FA and ArcSoft MediaConverter 3 are supplied on a CD-ROM.
However, the real standout is the XJ-M255's wireless capability. A wireless adapter is supplied with the projector along with Wireless Connection 3 software to set up wireless laptops and other wireless devices. Install the software on multiple laptops and you can have as many as four computer outputs simultaneously viewable on a split screen. If you purchase AWIND's Mobi-Show product, you can display files from your smart phones or tablet computers including iPhones and iPads. The XJ-M255 is truly a multimedia projector.
Light Engine Life Casio has taken the lead in moving away from traditional mercury-vapor lamps by combining a blue laser, a reflective green phosphor element, and a red LED. These individual RGB sources are sequentially focused on the DLP chip to generate shades of color. Unfortunately, the refresh rate is limited by the LED, and the result is that some viewers may see occasional "rainbow" artifacts, especially in full-motion video. On the upside, this combination is rated to last about 20,000 hours. However, if the light engine fails, the projector must be returned to your dealer or the factory for repair.
Auto Brightness Mode The XJ-M255 has a sensor mounted on the top of the case that can change picture brightness depending on the ambient light level when you have selected Eco (Auto) mode. As ambient light diminishes, image brightness decreases in four steps, ending at about 60% of normal Eco mode brightness. As ambient light changes, image brightness tracks it, but if you prefer to avoid this variability, you can simply select Eco (Manual) mode and the sensor is disabled.
Warranty Casio offers a robust 3-year warranty on the XJ-M255, and it offers a blended time/usage combo on the laser/LED light
engine . . . three years or 6,000 hours, whichever occurs first. Usage of 6,000 hours amounts to about 8 hours per workday for three years, so in most cases you will hit the 3-year limit before you do the 6,000-hour one.