Jul 01 2016

Casio Ecolite XJ-V2 DLP Projector Review

LED brightness in almost any lighting condition makes this projector a bold accessory in K–12 learning spaces.

The Casio EcoLite XJ-V2 DLP Projector seems designed from the ground up for challenging classroom environments. Instead of a fragile bulb, the XJ-V2 uses a laser-LED hybrid technology to project its image. This exclusive Casio LampFree technology does not burn nearly as hot, is ready almost instantly, and is designed to last up to 20,000 hours.

The XJ-V2 is a modest six pounds and has manual focus and zoom controls as well as an adjustable front support for controlling projection height. Setup took less than five minutes out of the box. It was booted and ready to go, at full brightness, in less than five seconds. Likewise, there is no cool-down procedure that needs to be followed to power it off. It can be attached to a computer using either an HDMI or a VGA cable.

To increase classroom ruggedness, the lens is partially recessed into the frame of the unit, making it less likely to get smudged with fingerprints. The XJ-V2 also is designed with three internal blocks for the light source, power and optical components, keeping dust well away from more vulnerable projection elements.

For most of our testing, we set the projector six feet from a screen and were able to create a 55-inch display. Using a light meter, we found that the center of the projected image was 2,250 lumens with a white background. At the corners of the display, it dropped off to 2,175 lumens, but because the human eye can’t discern differences of less than 100 lumens, images always appeared perfectly homogeneous. That is more than enough lumens to show images, even if the room can’t be completely darkened.

DisplayMate visual benchmarks showed that the XJ-V2 is extremely accurate when projecting colors. Various hues were easily distinguished, even when displayed on a very fine 256-step matrix with subtle changes among them. Tests with moving images along a grid also revealed no registration errors, making the XJ-V2 a perfect movie projector as well. Finally, we were unable to induce any moiré effects, even with grey backgrounds, so there should be no swirly optical illusions created by the projector regardless of what type of images are shown.

The XJ-V2 has rather simple controls, yet is able to accurately display both still images and movies without error. For a sub-$800 unit, that is very impressive. The accuracy and ruggedness would make the XJ-V2 a perfect learning tool for any classroom.

Big Movie on Campus

As amazing as modern computerized projectors are, they are subject to both technical limitations as well as the laws of physics. On the technical side, the bulbs on the old projectors tended to lose power in stages over time. Generally, after 10 hours they would lose some of their raw power, experience another drop-off at 200 hours, and then remain mostly stable till the bulbs blew. In terms of physics-based problems, the farther you moved a projector away from a screen, the bigger you could make the picture, but the weaker the light became.

The Casio Ecolite XJ-V2 DLP projector uses a special Casio LampFree technology where the projection element is made up of a hybrid laser and LED device, so there is no traditional bulb. While this grants up to 20,000 hours of use, we wanted to see if there were any power drop-off points that we could find with a few weeks of use. Second, while all of our testing in the main article featured 60-inch images, we wanted to see how well the XJ-V2 would perform with a 100-inch display for much larger classrooms.

Obviously, we didn’t have two years to work on this review to get us to the 20,000-hour mark, but we tested the XJ-V2 over a period of about two weeks. While the projector’s laser-LED device can last for years, it does need to be powered down at least once every 24 hours, according to the technical manual. As such, we ran it in 10-hour stretches. At the end of our test period, we had clocked in 140 hours of use.

Rerunning all the testing from the print article at a distance of six feet revealed absolutely no change in the raw lumen power. It was still able to throw up 2,250 lumens in the center of the 60-inch display, just as it did right out of the box. If the Casio LampFree technology does experience a drop-off in display power, it happens sometime after the 140-hour mark.

While the XJ-V2 seems to avoid the problems of other projectors in terms of longevity, it could not totally escape the laws of physics. Moving the projector back so that it was 10.5 feet from the screen allowed us to create a huge, 100-inch image along the diagonal. As expected, the raw lumens dropped off somewhat. At 10 feet, the lumen count was 1,130 in the center of the screen. Anything above 1,000 is still quite good, meaning that you don’t have to be in a totally darkened room to see the 100-inch output.

In all, the XJ-V2 did an amazing job with both our mini-longevity test and with the much larger screen. That long life and versatility should increase even further the value of the Casio Ecolite XJ-V2 DLP projector for educational environments even further.


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