Consumers are very particular when it comes to watching television, playing games, or using their PC. Quality has to meet cost, but recognizable branding is also important. Casio is a name you’re familiar with due to the array of products they deliver to consumers. With their hands in so many technological cookie jars, you might expect that quality would suffer because of it. With the XJ-A236 projector though, Casio has reached a unique level of consumer satisfaction. Though a little pricey, the options engineered into the device transform the projector from a simple viewing medium to a tool, useful for a variety of projects.
It’s small, that is certain. Less than two inches tall, and with dimensions just barely larger than a standard piece of paper, you’ll have no problem finding a place to use it. With the leveling knobs and ‘kick-stand’ used for raising the angle located covertly on and in the device, the design allows for an almost minimalist look. Minimalist is certainly not a description of the overall device, though. First, the Casio projector attaches to your device via VGA, HDMI, USB, RS232 or even WiFi. Yes, you can connect to a wireless network via 802.11 b/g/n, but getting it to connect may be a chore. During tests, each attempted connection to a home wireless network failed. Whether that’s related to operator error or something within the projector itself is not entirely clear. Audio leaves a bit to be desired, powered by a tiny 1-watt speaker. In general design terms, the speaker doesn’t add weight or size to the projector, which may be precisely why it’s included. A projector already so cognizant of its size would benefit from a larger, more voluptuous audio system, regardless of the added heft. Volume options are included that allow fine tuning, but an output to surround sound is far more desirable. It’s to be noted though that the speaker, regardless of size, is there; something that many projectors are lacking.
On the software end there are features implemented that help make this quite easy to setup and use. Quick and easy is a theme visited often, but coupled with options that help you “go green,” users with an eye on the environment can enjoy the device guilt-free. First, many of the options are set to automatically adjust themselves to whatever your surroundings are. Color and brightness adjust themselves and are delivered in beautiful 1080p HD. For users looking to get the best possible picture though, adjusting the settings is a must. While auto-adjustments are an easy fix, sometimes the whites can come through a bit too bright, washing out the other colors. Which is odd, considering the contrast ratio comes in at 1800:1, certainly a good number, but not quite reaching the desired plateau of 2000:1 or higher that a lot of high-end projectors have. To see the contrast ratio paired with brightness of 2,500 lumens, quite impressive for such a small piece of hardware, seems an odd coupling. Contrast ratio, responsible for bright whites and dark blacks, is considered “good”, while the lumens, the overall brightness of the image, is wonderful.
Keystone correction is another impressive implement, allowing users to be offset from the surface the image is projected on by about 30 degrees. Instead of a lopsided image, you’ll see the XJ-A246 auto-correct itself and give an even, uniform image. This option is perfect for smaller dorm rooms or apartments that don’t have massive space and need the project to sit out of the way. Of course, you could always mount it to the ceiling, as that compatibility is also included. This Casio projector is also low-power, meaning it uses less to operate. It operates between 130w and 270w depending on whether you’ve activated Eco mode, and less than 1w when in standby. The bulb gets around 20,000 hours of use before it needs changing, resulting in less waste and less added cost for owners.
The impressive zoom options, bright color, ideal size and weight (about 5 lbs), the Casio XJ-A246 is ideal for smaller spaces. It doesn’t get overly hot, so risk of injury is low, the picture is beautiful once the image is adjusted, and the multiple inputs allow for uses ranging from gaming to presentations or projects, to simple movie-watching. An MSRP around $1,299.99 does seem a bit much for this device though. If your intent is to remain mobile, taking the projector with you for extended use, than the price is ideal; if you’re looking for a projector to remain stationary in your home, you may have better luck finding something that offers fewer options at less cost.