Highly Recommended Award
Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.
The Casio XJ-F210WN, a newly announced 3500-lumen WXGA (1280x800) projector for business and education, will begin shipping this quarter at a recommended dealer price of $999.99.
The "WN" in the model number is Casio's designation for wireless networking. The F210WN handles wired networks out of the box, but it can also accommodate Casio's optional YW-40 USB wireless adapter for an extra $99.99. That small investment pays big dividends by extending the F210WN's connectivity to include wireless LANs, laptops, tablets, and smart phones after installing a Casio app called C-Assist.
The XJ-F210WN uses Casio's laser/LED/phosphor light engine which boasts a 20,000-hour life. If you used it 40 hours per week in an office or classroom, this projector would last almost ten years. The big advantage is that, assuming you run it anywhere near that long, the total cost of ownership should be considerably lower than for projectors using high pressure lamps that need replacement every few thousand hours.
With two HDMI ports along with VGA and USB inputs, the F210WN shows considerable versatility that will be appreciated by educators, businessmen, and road warriors alike. Its 8 lb. weight may be an issue for traveling to multiple venues, but that limitation is partially overcome by the variety of devices that can be connected directly and wirelessly to the F210WN.
The XJ-F210WN does an excellent job with data images. Text, spreadsheets, and even architectural drawings are displayed with crisp, well-defined alphanumerics. Small typefaces are still readable even at maximum keystone correction (±30°). The image is sharply focused from corner-to-corner, and there are no visible noise artifacts. The picture shows more dynamic pop when contrast is increased and brightness is reduced. Fine lines are never blurred, and the focus and zoom controls are positive with no overshoot.
Video images are clear, sharp, and noise free. Color balance is excellent in the preset modes, but color saturation is a bit low and results in a somewhat flat look for most video images. This may not be a serious issue for classroom and boardroom settings, but the F210WN will probably not be your first choice for dedicated movie viewing.
In Theater mode, flesh tones are excellent with good shadow and highlight definition thanks to an improved contrast specification (20,000:1) over previous version of the laser/LED illumination combo. Photos looked especially good using the Natural color mode preset. The F210WN exhibits the DLP rainbow effects that some viewers are sensitive to, so if you are planning to do a lot of video viewing a demo is probably worth it to see if these artifacts are a problem for you.
The two brightest operating modes are Normal and Bright. When in either of those settings with an HDMI source, you only have controls for brightness, contrast, and color balance which is Casio's name for color temperature. There are three color balance options: warm, normal, and cold. Each does what you'd expect . . . warm emphasizes red and cold emphasizes blue. The Normal and Bright modes emphasize green to the point that it is clearly visible, so you might want to avoid them when a greenish bias is not desired.
In that case you can opt for one of the seven Light Control settings that can do a better job of color balancing. The F210WN offers four color mode choices: Standard, Graphics, Theater, and Natural, and while they each have their particular color and brightness biases, they offer a quick way to get a good image on the screen. Graphics mode is particularly effective for data presentations, and Natural mode brings out the best color accuracy for photo presentations, although, as with video images, color saturation could have been better.
Illumination System. Casio has been developing its laser/LED/phosphor illumination engine for several years, and the latest version is a much better performer than its predecessors. It still sports a 20,000-hour life, but its contrast is higher and its color accuracy is better.
Total Cost of Ownership. Projectors using mercury vapor lamps must replace those lamps every few thousand hours at costs that can range up to $200 or more. In heavy usage, that cost can add up fast, but that is not a problem with Casio's laser/LED design. In addition, the XJ-F210WN has three separate internal chambers for the light source, power, and optical sections which reduces the impact of dust and allows the F210WN to operate air filter free . . . another cost saver.
Brightness Adjustment. The F210WN has an extremely versatile brightness control system that derives from the nature of the light engine. High pressure lamps cannot be adjusted with the variable precision exhibited by the F210WN. In addition to the usual Bright and Normal settings which correspond to normal and Eco settings in other projectors, there is a menu category called Light Control dedicated to lowering the image brightness in seven steps, each with a corresponding decrease in fan noise. For example, at brightness level 5, fan noise is almost inaudible and image brightness is still nearly 2,000 lumens. This gives you wide-ranging ability to match brightness and fan noise to your projection environment.
Wireless Operation. Most projectors offer some form of wired LAN operation, but few in this price range offer wireless operation. Although it is a $99 option, Casio's WY-40 wireless presentation adapter offers compatibility with multiple presentation disciplines including all sorts of portable devices. In addition, up to four computers can be connected simultaneously for collaboration sessions.
Internal Memory. For those times when hauling a computer along is not convenient, you can store up to 2GB of files in the F210WN's internal memory. File types supported are image (JPEG, PNG, GIF and BMP, movie (AVI, MOV, and MP4), presentation (ECA and PtG), and .pdf (PDF ver 1.4). File sizes are limited, and Powerpoint files must first be converted using EZ-Converter FA which is available on the Casio Web site.
Menus and Remote Control. The F201WN's on-screen menu system has eleven levels, but each level is easy to navigate. Unfortunately, the menu sits in the middle of the screen and it cannot be resized or moved, so adjustments are partially hidden. The remote control is clean and functional with direct control of keystone correction, volume, digital zoom, and seven other functions that also appear in the menu itself.
Warranty. Casio warrants the F210WN for three years which is one of the longest warranty periods in the industry. It also warrants the illumination system for three years or 6,000 hours, whichever comes first. In all likelihood, you will reach the three year limit before you reach the hourly limit. Note that if you have an illumination failure, you will have to return the F210WN to your dealer or the factory for repair.
Brightness. The XJ-F210WN is rated at 3,500 ANSI lumens, and our test sample delivered 3,185 lumens in Bright mode, its brightest factory calibrated operating mode. Normal mode put up 2,700 lumens while the seven Light Control modes produced brightness readings that varied from 2,375 to 620 lumens.
Each preset mode had an impact on brightness, and the following lumen readings were made with Light Control set to its maximum setting of 7. Since there are seven levels of light control, there are too many permutations of lumen output potential to document here, so we list only those in full power and Light Control 7:
Brightness Uniformity. Brightness uniformity for the F210WN measured an outstanding 93%, which is as good as it gets in the world of commercial digital projectors.
Zoom Lens. The F210WN's 1.5:1 zoom lens offers moderate placement flexibility. A 120-inch diagonal can be projected from 11' to 16'2" from the screen, and its keystone correction range allows for some vertical misalignment although at the cost of some brightness. At its longest telephoto setting, the zoom lens decreases brightness by only 10%, so distance from the screen for a particular image size doesn't cause any significant brightness loss to worry about.
Input Lag. The Bodnar lag meter measured an input lag of 33 ms which makes it a good candidate for video gaming as long as color saturation is not a prime requirement.
Fan Noise. Since the illumination system of our test unit ran the gamut from just over 600 lumens to almost 3,200 lumens depending on brightness setting, the fan noise varied a great deal. In the lower levels of Light Control (5 or lower), the fan was almost inaudible. As brightness is increased the fan noise rises, and it becomes noticeable for small audiences at the Normal and Bright settings. When the high altitude setting was chosen (required over 5,000'), fan noise became very significant and would be prohibitive for low volume movie viewing.
Audio. The F210WN is equipped with a 16-watt mono speaker which is more than adequate for small- and medium-sized rooms. If external amplification is required, there are multiple audio jacks to accommodate external amplifiers.
The XJ-F210WN throws a 120" 16:10 format image from a near distance of about 11 feet to a far distance of about 16.3 feet. Use our Projection Calculator (preloaded with the F210WN's data) to determine throw distances for your desired screen size.
For a 120" diagonal image, the XJ-F210WN's lens centerline is just over 10" above the bottom of the screen image. So this projector throws the image somewhat lower than many of its competitors. This suggests a rear shelf or cart mounting. If placed on a conference table it will often need to be tilted upward and keystone corrected. If the F210WN is ceiling mounted, an extension tube will be required to get the image properly placed on the screen.
Lamp life and brightness. The 20,000 hour light engine is expected to lose brightness on a straight line to the point where it is 50% as bright at 20,000 hours as it was when new. High pressure lamps also degrade to 50% of the initial brightness by the end of their life, but they degrade more rapidly during the first 500 to 1000 hours, then more slowly for the balance of their life. A high pressure lamp with a 4000-hour life should be expected to degrade by 25% at the 750-hour point, while it would take the F210WN 10,000 hours to lose that same 25% degradation.
On the other hand, a high pressure lamp can be replaced periodically, restoring the projector to its full initial brightness. The LED-laser light engine cannot be replaced, so once it has diminished by 25% at the 10,000-hour mark, if there is a need to restore its initial brightness there is no option but to replace the projector.
The bottom line is that if you intend to run the F210WN for 10,000 or more hours in order to gain the benefits of low total cost of ownership over the long run, make sure that 50% to 75% of its initial lumen output is still sufficient light to handle the display requirements that will be expected of it during the later years of its operation.
Color Controls. Except for the usual three color temperature settings (Warm, Normal, and Cold), there is no way to adjust color balance for HDMI sources. Similarly, there is no way to change color saturation, and that is one area where the F210WN could use some improvement.
Preset Brightness. Since using presets require being in Light Control mode, none of the presets can achieve the brightness associated with the Normal and Bright modes. Level 7 of Light Control does deliver upwards of 2,400 lumens in Standard color mode, but for rooms with high ambient light, that may not be enough to overcome washout of the image.
Light Engine Warranty Limit. The 20,000 hour light engine has warranty coverage for three years or 6,000 hours, whichever comes first. If it is used 40 hours per week in a business or classroom, it will be out of warranty for most of its anticipated ten-year life.
Rainbow Artifacts. Like most DLP projectors, the F210WN exhibited rainbow artifacts in dark scenes with slow panning. However, it also had low level rainbow artifacts in more brightly lit scenes; this may be a result of the illumination system design rather than a DLP limitation.
No monitor loop-through. If you need this feature, look elsewhere.
No 3D. Many projectors offer 3D capability, but the F210WN is not among them.
The Casio XJ- F210WN makes significant headway in bringing laser/LED illumination to higher performance levels both in terms of brightness and color accuracy. As a networked data projector, the F210WN is a prime contender with a long-life illumination system and a vast array of compatible portable presentation sources. It is designed to give you an excellent long term return on investment for data display in the classroom or conference room with use into the range of 10,000 to 20,000 hours. If this is your objective, then give this one an audition at your earliest convenience.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Casio XJ-F210WN projector page.