Highly Recommended Award
Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.
While other manufacturers of portable projectors tend to focus on length and width, Casio focuses on depth. Their XJ-S32, a 2300-lumen XGA DLP projector, is only 1.7 inches tall and weighs four pounds. Its unique super thin design makes it easy to stuff in a briefcase or laptop bag. For an educator or administrator on the move, this portability is priceless. With a 2.0:1 zoom lens and three-year warranty, there is a lot to like about Casio's slim portable - not the least of which is its $799 price.
Highly portable. The XJ-S32 is one of the slimmest projectors available, at 1.7" in height. Making the projector long and wide instead of deep means that it is much easier to fit the XJ-S32 inside a laptop bag, a briefcase, or any other small luggage. It even comes with a sturdy foam sleeve to protect it while in transit.
It's not just small, it is light also. The XJ-S32 weighs a hair under 4 pounds, which is less than many laptop computers. With this tiny form factor and a light laptop, you can carry a complete classroom presentation setup that weighs less than ten pounds. In fact, if you have a netbook with VGA output, you could end up with a complete set under five pounds.
Placement flexibility. The XJ-S32 has one very unique feature for a small classroom projector - a 2.0:1 powered zoom lens. This allows you to project a 100" diagonal image from 9' 3" to 18' 5", which is no small feat in a projector of this size. The long powered zoom lens makes the XJ-S32 truly ideal for multiple classroom use, especially for a guest lecturer or college professor - setting up and taking down the projector requires a minimum of hassle.
High lumen output. Despite its diminutive size, the XJ-S32 packs quite a punch. We measured 1705 ANSI lumens in Presentation mode on our test sample, out of a specification of 2300. In a small classroom with the lights dimmed, 1700 lumens is enough to put a brilliant, dynamic picture on the screen. If there is a significant amount of ambient light, or you need a very large screen size, you may wish to look at a brighter but less portable projector.
Presentation mode emphasizes white above color, and so the result is an image that looks great with black and white content and not so great with color photographs or web pages. For these types of content, one should consider using Standard mode at 1693 lumens or Theater mode at 576 lumens for better color balance and saturation.
One of the downsides of having such a versatile 2.0:1 zoom lens is that lumen output drops off significantly when using the telephoto end of the lens. In Presentation mode, we measured a drop from 1705 lumens to 958 lumens, or 44%. If using the projector in a room with ambient light, you may want to avoid the telephoto end of the zoom, and keep the projector as close to the screen as possible.
Three-year warranty. Casio includes a three-year warranty as standard on the XJ-S32, as well as 180 days on the lamp. This is about the best warranty you'll see on a projector in this class, and 180 days is twice as long as most manufacturers offer on their lamps. This protects the buyer against premature lamp failure, which can be intensely frustrating as well as costly.
Security. The XJ-S32 has a Kensington lock point, so you can chain your projector to something immobile if you are forced to leave it unattended for an extended period. It also has a password function on startup, which will shut the projector down if the incorrect password is input. This dual approach of physical security and deterrence works well to keep projectors safe.
Zoom Memory. While it sounds fancy, "zoom memory" simply means that the projector remembers its zoom and focus settings between the time you shut it down and the next time you start it up. In fact, every projector with a powered zoom lens has zoom memory. What makes the XJ-S32 special is not the presence of zoom memory, but the ability to turn it off.
Think about it. If you are traveling with your projector, even if only to different classrooms in the same building, you may find yourself changing zoom and focus settings several times a day. In these cases, the previous zoom and focus settings are a hindrance, not a help. You must take extra time to figure out where in the focal range you were, then adjust for your new environment. To this end, the XJ-S32 has an option to disable zoom memory, which brings the projector back to its default zoom and focus settings between operations. For the traveling presenter, this seemingly small feature is an excellent time saver.
Connectivity. The connection panel on the XJ-S32 is a little sparse - it consists of a 1/8" audio input which will also handle composite video, a VGA port, and a combination port for data. On the one hand, this gives you the simplicity of a one-port solution - bring a VGA cable and possibly an adapter and you're golden. On the other hand, it can be frustrating having to convert every input connection to VGA, and it means you can only have one source attached at one time. While this is less of an issue on a portable projector, it is still worth noting.
Remote. The XJ-S32 has a credit card style remote which is thin and compact. These remotes tend to have small "tic-tac" buttons spaced very tightly, and this one is no exception. The tiny labels make finding any specific function rather difficult, and the remote itself is easy to misplace.
Average lamp life. While the XJ-S32 is impressive in so many ways, it has only average lamp life - 2,000 hours. This is less than other models boasting 3,000 or 4,000 hour lamp life ratings. So it is worth bearing in mind that the replacement lamp is $399, or half the cost of the projector itself. If your intended usage calls for putting many hours on the unit, total cost of ownership including lamp replacement should be considered carefully.
Poor speaker. The XJ-S32 has a one-watt mono speaker, which is the bare minimum expected in this class of projector. In any serious presentation, including those made in the classroom, the speaker will not be loud enough to reach your entire audience. It is better in these cases to either use the speakers on your laptop or use whatever other speakers are available in the room - or forego the sound entirely.
The Casio XJ-S32 is a different kind of mobile projector. Its light weight is familiar, but its slim form factor is something entirely different from the rest of the portable offerings available. This small form factor, combined with its 2.0:1 zoom lens, makes it ideal for educators who need to travel, even if they only travel from room to room. While it has only average lamp life and poor sound capabilities, the Casio XJ-S32 is a great choice for those who want to put an image on screen without being forced to pack an extra bag.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Casio XJ-S32 projector page.