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Casio XJ-A147 Projector Review

Performance
4.5
Features
Ease of Use
Value
Intended Use:
Mobile Presentation
Casio XJ-A147 Projector Casio XJ-A147
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Street Price: $1,110
MSRP:$1,109
Contrast:1,800:1
Lumens:2500
Weight: 5.0 lbs
Resolution:1024x768
Aspect Ratio:4:3
Technology:DLP
Lens:2x powered
Lens Shift:No
Lamp Life:20,000 Hrs
20,000 (eco)
Lamp Cost:n/a
Warranty:3 year
Connectors:  Composite, VGA In, HDMI, Audio Out, Audio In, Wireless Networking, USB, RS232
Video Formats:  480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p/60, 576i, 576p
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Casio XJ-A147
XGA Hybrid Presentation Projector

Marc Davidson, November 25, 2014
ProjectorCentral.com

The Casio XJ-A147 is Casio's latest iteration of its light-weight, high-end, 1024x768 projector. It's rated at 2500 lumens, measured close to that in my tests, and is built around Casio's hybrid LED-laser light source paired with a DLP chip. What makes it the high-end model for its resolution in Casio's Slim Series is that it can read files from USB memory keys as well as show images from mobile devices by Wi-Fi, so you don't need to carry a computer with you.

The hybrid light source is central to all of Casio's projectors, boasting ecological benefits, including being mercury-free, and helping keep running costs down. Its meant to last the life of the projector, with a rated 20,000-hour lifetime, eliminating the need for replacement lamps.

It's also designed to save on electricity. With two non-Eco modes and five levels of Eco mode, you can choose just as much brightness, and use just as much power, as you need. Even better, Casio says that the XJ-A147's fifth-generation version of its light source uses less electricity for any given brightness than earlier versions, lowering running costs even more.

Widely priced at $1109.99, with education pricing available, the XJ-A147 is expensive compared with models using traditional lamps. But if you add the cost of replacement lamps for competing projectors plus the additional electricity costs, the total cost of ownership is a lot closer, and could even be in the XJ-A147's favor. The savings in running cost helps make the XJ-A147 a more than reasonable choice.

The Viewing Experience

As expected for a data projector, the XJ-A147 does better with data images than video, the key issue being rainbow (red-green-blue flashes), which are always a potential problem for DLP projectors. With static images, like business graphics, I saw the artifacts only in images that tend to bring them out, and infrequently enough that it's unlikely anyone will be bothered by them. With video, they showed less often than with some projectors, but often enough that anyone who sees them easily is likely to find them annoying in at least some scenes.

Good data image quality. Colors in data images were nicely saturated in my tests in all combinations of predefined modes and brightness settings. However some colors varied noticeably with different settings. Blue and red were a little dark with the brightest mode, for example, and yellow was vibrant with some settings but mustard colored with others.

Very much on the plus side, the projector did a great job with color balance. The brightest shades in the brightest setting showed a tint, but that's true for most projectors. In all other settings, grays were suitably neutral for all shades from black to white.

The XJ-A147 also did an excellent job with detail, which is more important for most data images. White text on black, for example, was crisp and readable at sizes as small as 9 points, and black text on white was easily readable at 7 points. The image was also all but rock solid even with an analog connection when showing patterned fills, which can bring out annoying pixel jitter and dynamic moire on some projectors.

Video quality suitable for short sessions. Video quality is necessarily limited by the 1024x768 resolution, but is best described as watchable. The XJ-A147 did well on shadow detail and showed only a hint of posterization on clips that tend to cause the problem. However, colors were a little washed out; skin tones were barely within the realm of acceptable; and in clips with the camera panning across the scene, I saw more obvious judder than with most projectors. Factor in the rainbow artifacts showing often enough to be bothersome for people who see them easily, and it's best to limit video with XJ-A147 to a few minutes at a time.

Setup

Good connectivity. The back panel offers only a limited set of connectors:

  • 1 HDMI
  • 1 VGA IN (for RGB or component)
  • 1 USB A (for the included Wi-Fi Dongle or for reading files from a USB key)
  • 1 Micro USB B (for Direct USB Display and for uploading a logo)
  • 1 Mini Plug AV port (for the supplied adaptor for composite video and stereo input; settable for stereo output.)

At 5.1 pounds and 1.6" by 11.7" by 8.3" (HWD), the XJ-A147 is small and light enough to carry easily, particularly with the soft carrying case Casio ships with it.

For most of my tests, I used a 98" diagonal image, with the lens at its full wide angle setting and the projector 108" from the screen. The lens is actually inside the projector behind a small window, with buttons both on the remote and the control panel on the projector for adjusting the motorized focus and 2x zoom.

With the XJ-A147 sitting on a flat surface, the lens offset puts the bottom of the image at the midline of the lens. If you need to adjust the image position, you can use the drop-down foot in front to move it up or the two screw-on feet at the back corners to move it down or adjust roll. You can then square off the image if you like with the vertical keystone control, although this can introduce artifacts, as with any digital keystone correction.

Key Features

Eco friendly. The XJ-A147's eco-friendly features, start with its light source. In addition to being mercury free, its 20,000-hour lifetime should eliminate both the need for replacement lamps and the carbon costs for shipping them.

The seven brightness settings--with two non-Eco and five Eco modes--will let you adjust the projector's brightness to the lowest level you need for the ambient light and screen size. This can make a significant difference in power use. I measured the two non-Eco modes at 144 and 121 watts and the Eco modes at a range of 110 to 70 watts. You can also set the projector to turn itself off after 5 to 30 minutes without input.

Excellent warranty. The warranty varies with the level of use, but for up to ten hours of use per day five days per week, the length is three years for the projector and three years or 6000 hours for the light source.

Test Results

Acceptably bright image with wide brightness range. With five Eco levels and five predefined modes for each, the XJ-A147 offers 25 choices of Eco settings that can affect brightness, plus two non-Eco settings, giving you a wide range of brightness levels. With the brightest Eco setting, for example, the least bright predefined mode was only 65% as bright as the brightest mode. In my tests, the non-Eco settings came in at 2305 and 1727 lumens, and the five Eco settings at a range of 1025 to 1549 lumens with the brightest predefined mode.

As with most DLP projectors, color brightness was lower on my tests than white brightness. The difference is most significant with Eco off, and explains why blue and red looked a little dark with the brightest setting. With Eco on, however, I measured the color brightness at roughly 90% of the white brightness with the Standard preset. That's not enough to notice a brightness difference between full color images and screens with a white background.

In any case, the XJ-A147 was easily bright enough in my tests for a 98" diagonal image to stand up to a moderate level of ambient light, and the range of settings offers lots of flexibility for adjusting the brightness for lower light levels and smaller screen sizes.

Note too that the fan noise drops noticeably with each step down the brightness ladder. The two non-Eco modes are loud enough so they could easily be distracting if you're near the projector. The Eco levels vary from whisper quiet at the lowest brightness level to potentially distracting at the highest, if you're sensitive to fan noise.

Good brightness uniformity. Brightness uniformity, at a measured 82%, varies just enough to see a touch of difference between the center and sides with a solid white screen. Break up the image with text or graphics, however, and the difference simply isn't visible.

Limitations

No predefined color presets for the brightest modes. With no predefined modes for the non-Eco settings, the only way to adjust color is manually.

Rainbow artifacts. As already mentioned, anyone who sees rainbow artifacts easily will likely see them often enough with video to find them bothersome.

No 3D. Unlike most DLP projectors, the XJ-A147 does not support 3D.

Minimal sound system. The 1-watt mono speaker sounds tinny, and offers barely enough volume for a small conference room. If you need sound, plan on getting an external audio system.

Conclusion

If the resolution you need is 1024x768, the XJ-A147 is well worth a look. It delivers near-excellent quality for data images, it's small and light enough to serve as a traveling companion, and it handles video well enough for short clips, which is more than some data projectors can manage. It will also be of particular interest if you're concerned with ecological benefits like the mercury-free light source. As long as you're comfortable with paying a high initial price to get the benefits of a low running cost, the XJ-A147 can be a good fit, and even a potentially attractive one, as a small, light projector suitable for a small to mid-size room.


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