Casio has once again enhanced its impressive family of Super Slim low-profile projectors, this time with its new XJ-SC215. While this $1,499 projector looks the same as previous models from the outside, there's a number of improvements that merit serious consideration. Most importantly, the SC215's ability to reproduce accurate colors makes this model stand out from other DLP projectors, and put it on a par with LCD projectors.
As per usual, the new addition to this family of XGA-resolution DLP projectors is visually identical to the previous models, theCasio XJ-S57and XJ-S47. Its table-hugging shape (only 1.7 inches high) slides easily into almost any laptop carrying case. With its tiny credit card-size remote and two cables, the traveling weight is only 4.7 pounds.
Remote Control and Ports
The remote control is quite small--no larger than a short stack of credit cards. It's not big enough to accommodate a laser pointer, nor does it have any mouse-emulation buttons that might help you navigate through a PowerPoint slideshow on your laptop. But it does have features rarely seen on other projector remotes; we particularly liked the power-focusing buttons that enabled us to stand near the image and adjust the focus remotely, ensuring that it was as sharp as possible.
The XJ-SC215's USB connector lets you project slideshows of JPEG files stored on a USB Flash memory drive, without the need of a laptop. In practice, however, such presentations lack any animations or transitions, have a surprisingly low resolution, and reveal a noticeable level of jaggies and dithering--not quite up to par for a business presentation. (You can also purchase the optional $99 YW-2L adapter, which lets you wirelessly connect up to four PCs to the projector.)
Of course, all the real improvements for this model are on the inside. At 2500 ANSI lumens, the SC215 is not quite as bright as its sibling, the 3000-lumen S57, but it excels in another area: The SC in its name refers to Super Color, and rendering color accurately--long an Achilles' heel for DLP projectors--is an area where Casio hopes to steal some thunder from LCD-based projectors.
On our lab tests, the SC215 images were a joy to watch. Individual pixels were quite sharp, with only the barest hint of halos and magenta fringes. True to its Super Color name, yellows were almost as lively as on many LCD projectors, and reds were remarkably saturated.
The most striking feature of these Casio models becomes apparent as soon as you power them up: The image size is huge, approximately 52 inches in diagonal at a standard distance of 5 feet from the screen. And if it is too large, a simple pair of buttons on the tiny remote control enables you to adjust the image size to half its maximum--a tremendous optical zooming range that gives presenters great flexibility in where they might place these models. In fact, that latter point is complemented by the Casio's generously long 10-foot AC cable.
This model did particularly well on our HDTV tests. Its large image size meant that even a 16:9 aspect-ratio image could be large enough to impress. And its high contrast ratio ensured that there were no distracting gray areas above and below the image. The projector also kept up very well with fast action sequences, and the shimmering normally seen in certain mid-level colors was practically unnoticeable.
On our benchmark tests, we were disappointed at first; the brightness was not nearly what was advertised. But when we switched the Casio from the default Standard color mode to the Presentation mode, we measured a brightness of 2409 lumens, just shy of the 2500-lumen rating. Its measure of 502:1 on a checkerboard test was, of course, well below the traditionally inflated advertised contrast ratio but is quite respectable when compared with those of similar projectors. The cooling-fan noise was noticeable but not irritating, and it was much quieter in low-power mode, which dropped the brightness by 23 percent. Cooldown time was a decent 61 seconds.
The Casio XJ-SC215 is best suited for people who need the best possible color accuracy in a DLP projector, such as photographers, interior designers, architects, and illustrators. Our advice, however, is to opt for the XJ-SC210, which lacks the USB connector but sells for $200 less. And if you'd rather not splurge for color accuracy or USB connectivity, take a look at the XJ-S42, which is brighter and costs $400 less.