Review: Casio XJ-A146 Projector

Seriously. This thing has a laser. A blue laser that makes. . . green light?  Color me confused, and intrigued.

Sporting Casio's unique "Hybrid" light source firing at a 1,024x768 DLP, the slim $1,399 XJ-A146 is intriguing on many levels. But can it work in a home theater?

We shall see.

First, I need to talk about that light source. Most projectors use UHP lamps, which are, effectively, really expensive and powerful light bulbs. They generate a lot of light for relatively little energy, but this isn't to say they're remotely efficient. They still generate a ton of heat. Worse, they're a wear part. As you use the projector (mostly as you turn it on and off), the bulb gets dimmer and dimmer, eventually failing completely and requiring a several-hundred-dollar replacement.

New on the scene is the LED as a light source. There are many benefits to LED, not least or those better color and much better longevity. The LEDs in the latest batch of LED-based projectors are rated for 30,000 hours (compared to the 3,000 or so for most UHP lamps). However, LEDs still aren't as bright as UHP lamps, and they're rather expensive.

Casio has gone a slightly different route - one I hadn't seen before - that's rather fascinating in its differentness. Instead of three LEDs (one for each primary color: red, green, and blue), it uses one LED (red) and one laser (blue). By using a laser they. . . 

Wait a second. I feel like I'm missing something.

Hey, where the hell is the green?

As if using lasers wasn't weird enough, the blue laser is also used to create the green light. It does this by firing at a green phosphor, which lights up when excited by the blue light. Seriously.

While undoubtedly cool and interesting, it's still a projector and we have to judge it as such.

Judging circuit activating. . .

Setup

Roughly the size of a thin phone book (remember those?), the XJ-A146 will fit just about anywhere. Like pretty much all small projectors, there's an upwards throw, so you'll need to mount it above or below your screen. There are two adjustable feet at the back and a lever-like foot at the front to help you get the angle right if you're placing it on a table. As for connections, you'll find a single HDMI, RGB-PC, and an analog A/V input. The XJ-A146 has a USB input, but according to Casio the $1,199 XJ-A141 is the same basic projector, just without USB. There wasn't a review sample available for the A141, otherwise I'd have picked that one.

The remote is about the size of the palm of my hand, and has buttons for seemingly every aspect of the projectors performance and feature. Shockingly, there are motorized zoom and focus controls. I've reviewed expensive "big" projectors that don't have this.

If you're planning on using the A146 as a portable projector, the magnetic lens cap is pretty trick.

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