Casio M255 WXGA DLP Projector
  • Performance
  • 4
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
Price
$1,699 MSRP Discontinued

One definition of success is when performance exceeds expectation, and when I got my hands on the new 3,000-lumen WXGA resolution Casio XJ-M255, my expectations were high since this projector embodies the latest version of Casio's proprietary laser/LED light engine. By definition, then, a successful evaluation of this DLP projector would require more than just a good image and some nifty bells and whistles. To add some anticipation to the mix, this was the first time I had seen Casio's laser/LED light engine since I last saw it in their XJ-A250 which came up well short of its brightness rating and didn't do well in the image quality department.

At first glance, this $1,499 8.6-pound projector looks like it might be a good candidate for a cart or ceiling mount since it's a bit heavy to lug around. However, it was clearly designed with multimedia in mind, and its wide variety of input modes and wireless capability makes it a natural for collaborative sessions where multiple PCs may be connected simultaneously. I had two wireless laptops displaying together on a split screen, and the XJ-M255 can handle four at a time. So, even though mobility isn't its strongest suit, the XJ-M255 is nevertheless a good candidate for road warrior applications where everything from mobile phones to iPads and laptops are in play.

I connected everything but the kitchen sink to the XJ-M255 including HDMI digital sources and USB memory sticks. In each case, the images were on the mark for color balance and saturation, and the 5-watt speaker was a nice improvement over the previous 1-watt speaker in the XJ-A250V. However, like its predecessor, the XJ-M255 fell short of its brightness specification by nearly 25% preceded by a gradual decrease in brightness during its warm-up phase. The decrease is less than it used to be (9% vs. 15%), but it is still surprising to see. Once the projector has been operating for fifteen minutes, the light output is stable . . . well below its rating, but stable.

A classroom could definitely get some extended use out of the XJ-M255 as it is solidly put together with low maintenance costs if the laser/LED light engine meets its intended 20,000-hour life. But its versatility suggests that it moves easily among the widely varying environments found in conference rooms and boardrooms, so I would expect professional presenters to find a lot to like in this projector.

Key Features

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.

Shortcomings

Brightness Our XJ-M255 test sample got closer to its rated brightness than the XJ-A250V did, but it still fell short with only 2,225 ANSI lumens in its brightest mode (Bright setting). It actually is brighter when you first turn it on (2,400 lumens), but it slips to the 2,225 lumen level over the first fifteen minutes of operation and remains there for the duration. Many projectors do not meet their brightness ratings, but few miss it by 25%.

The ANSI lumen performance of the XJ-M255 is as follows: Bright - 2225, Normal - 1710, Eco (Manual) and Standard - 1470, Graphics - 850, Theater - 810, Blackboard - 935, and Game - 1200. In Eco (Auto) mode, the light sensor can reduce image brightness from 1470 lumens to a minimum of 910 lumens in four steps. Brightness uniformity was 83%.

Preset Availability Like its predecessor, the XJ-M255 only allows you to select preset modes (Standard, Graphics, Theater, Blackboard, and Game) when you have set the light engine to Eco mode. This means that in the projector's brightest modes (Bright and Normal), you are limited to only brightness, contrast, and one of three color temperature settings for computer and HDMI signals.

Menu Placement Unlike most projectors, the on-screen menu cannot be moved around the image nor can its transparency be altered. It is squarely in the middle of the image, and it blocks a sizable portion of the image when making basic adjustments such as contrast, brightness, and color temperature.

Summary

Casio's new XJ-M255 is a good example of the maxim "you can't judge a book by its cover." It is not compact nor is it light, and first impressions seem to destine it for a fixed mounting. But when you examine its capabilities and ignore the minor inconvenience of toting it around, it morphs into a real contender for multiple presentation environments... including the wireless variety that many road warriors face nowadays. If you deal with collaborative meetings or have colleagues who want to put their latest smartphone photos up for review, you will need to use a projector with all sorts of input versatility.

The XJ-M255 misses its brightness specification by a pretty wide margin, but it still has enough output to be useful in low to moderate ambient light. Its unique laser/LED illumination system eliminates the traditional replacement of mercury vapor lamps, and this light engine is designed to last for about 20,000 hours so it should still be working a decade after you purchase it under the most aggressive usage. Despite its lower-than-predicted brightness, the image quality of the XJ-M255 is excellent especially if you can use the presets available in Eco mode.

At $1,499 and 8.6 pounds, the XJ-M255 is neither the least expensive nor the lightest 1280x800 projector on the market, but it is solidly built, and it handles more presentation environments than many competing projectors. Considering the lumen shortfall, we cannot give the XJ-M255 five stars in the Performance or Value categories, since there are quite a few competing units with comparable lumen output and the same weight and resolution that are priced well under $1,000. Though the light source is rated for 20,000 hours, the long run savings on replacement lamps is factored into the premium price. However, the XJ-M255 does merit our highest rating for Features and Ease of Use. It is a solid contender where versatility is a key requirement. And if you do have a heavy usage application and plan to put more than 10,000 hours on your projector before upgrading it, the 20,000 hour light engine could definitely contribute to lower cost of operation in the long run.

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Casio XJ-M255 projector page.

Comments (6) Post a Comment
William Dakota Posted Nov 15, 2011 10:22 AM PST
This review contradicts your email to me stating the picture isn't bright enough for a 30 foot wide picture. 3000 lumens is pretty bright isn't it? The laser LED may only run six years? Well, that is good enough for me.
iaw4 Posted Dec 18, 2011 11:55 AM PST
how about the heat output of the light engine? is it much cooler than a standard setup? can I sit next to the exhaust and not hear or feel anything?
Stunko Posted Dec 24, 2011 9:01 AM PST
@ iaw4: No, there is no such thing that you sdescribe. There will be HEAT GENERATION and HEAT DISSIPATTION out of this red laser + LED light engine PJ as well. If not, you would quickly fry the internal organs, qand you would not want that, correct? The XJ-A series is actually pretty loud for fan exhaust, this XJ-M series model is much less so.

@ William Dakota: I am now covering a 24.5-foot wide 2.2:1 aspect ratio gray screen out of a 7000 ANSI lumen projector. You will never be able to cover a 30-ft width out of a 3000 or 2500 ANSI lumen PJ, not even close to it.
Ricardo Posted Aug 29, 2012 3:30 AM PST
We know that you guys have to be polite in order to review these equipment BUT, would you buy it?

For 1500,00 we could buy 2 extra lamps and a similar (lamped) more serius projector, right?

I really want Cassio to outperfom its competitors but the way you described it, it seems like an amateur job.
jamie griffiths Posted Dec 17, 2012 8:43 AM PST
How about the wireless function? How was that? Is it only for menu control? Or can you wirelessly control playback of a loaded USB stick for instance? thanks for any info.
Kal Gill Posted Aug 11, 2014 12:31 PM PST
I'm thinking about purchasing the XJ-M256, there are no reviews on this yet anywhere, can you comment on this projector, also can you recommend any with same level of features for business presentations, like wifi, hdmi, vga, multi screen etc. Thanks

Kal Gill

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