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Casio XJ-UT310WN LED Laser UST Projector Review - Summary

Posted on October 17, 2014 by Art Feierman
CASIO XJ-UT310WN ULTRA SHORT THROW PROJECTOR - SUMMARY:  Ultra Short Throw Design, LED / Laser Light Engine Benefits and Trade-offs, Picture Quality and Brightness

Ultra Short Throw Design

When they are practical to use in your environment,  ultra short throw  projectors offer some great advantages, and a disadvantage or two as well.

Special_InterestFirst of all, unlike projectors sitting 8 or 12 feet from the screen, a UST projector like this Casio won't blind the presenter if they move in front of the screen (which certainly happens a lot).  Being attacked by a very, very bright light is not pleasant, and it can be a major distraction to the teacher or presenter.  In addition, the speaker is not casting a shadow, blocking the light from the projector from reaching the screen.  Those are big advantages.

If the projector is going to be installed, there's also normally significant savings compared to  longer throw projectors.  The primary reason is that this Casio will mount to the wall, directly above the screen surface, rather than hang from the ceiling.  That means the install work takes place on just one wall, along with the screen.  No power and cables to run up to the ceiling.  There's an installation cost either way, but it definitely should be a good deal less with an ultra short throw projector.

Another benefit is sound, which normally comes from a rear facing speaker.  The entire audience is behind the projector so the sound is going where it needs to.

But, as I said, there are a couple of downsides as well.  The first one, is that UST projectors, including this Casio, tend to be significantly more expensive than longer throw projectors.

Another limitation is image size.  Because of the unique types of optics used in UST projectors, you normally don't get the ability to project to any size you want.  Sorry, no 15 foot image size with this projector.  Casio only states up to 110" diagonal.  Of course, that's plenty for classrooms, conference rooms, training rooms etc.  On the other hand, that won't cut it presenting to 300 people in a Marriott hotel ballroom.

Maintaining very good sharpness across the image, and a reasonably evenly illuminated screen are often challenges for UST projectors, but the Casio is pretty sharp, and the amount of roll-off to the corners is relatively minor compared to some other UST projectors.

Click Image to Enlarge

LED Laser - Hybrid Solid State Light Source

The name of the game is less hassle, and more consistent performance, thanks to a light engine that lasts up to 20,000 hours.  Please note, Casio does not specify at what power settings it should hit the 20,000 hour mark, so we tend to assume that would be in an eco mode, not maximum brightness.  Still, that's a far cry from the longest lamp life found for conventional lamp based projectors.  6000 hours in eco is about as good as they get, and 3000 to 4000 hours at full power is typical.

With a solid state light engine, if it lasts as long as the manufacturer's claim, that's typically going to be years and years past the point in time when the projector is obsolete.

And, since there are no lamps to change, that means no labor costs to change out lamps, and no cost of lamps.

That's important, because up front you are definitely paying a premium for the solid state light engines out there.  This projector is officially $1799.  I would say that a roughly similar UST projector that's lamp based is more likely to be about $500 less.

Well, depending on the cost of lamps (typically $199+), you can see how the Casio might save money in the long run, especially if a company or school has to dispatch someone to change out a lamp (yep, up on a ladder for a mounted projector).  A note for schools.  Lamp prices for the education market are typically less than for everyone else.  At least one major player offers most replacement lamps for education oriented projectors for only $99.

Still if the premium to get a solid state light engine powered projector is $400 to $750, you can see where it would result in long term savings if it's used a good deal.  Of course if used only 10 hours a week, even a 4000 hour lamp lasts 8 years.

Click Image to Enlarge

Picture Quality and Brightness

The most important thing to remember, is that we were unable to capture projected images from this LED / Laser projector with any degree of color accuracy.  That's a tech issue, unrelated to the projector.  Overall, color is respectable, but generally slightly undersaturated.  In brightest modes, yellows are way to strong, but then, with conventional projectors, it's usually yellowish greens that are way over the top.

The images here all appear within the other pages of this review, and are repeated here for the "just want to read the summary" crowd!

When it comes to color performance this Casio should be perfectly fine for most presentations that do not demand really accurate color.  I repeat some of the same images as on the Picture Quality page - one version the way the camera captured it, and the better quality one, photoshopped to show you far more closely what the projected image really looked like.

Great for normal presentations, usable for videos and photos, but overall, color could be better.  It should rival - do at least as well - as many DLP projectors, but I will give the color accuracy advantage - should you need it, to LCD projectors.

Brightness is not a problem.  The 3100 lumens can carry a 100" screen size in a fully lit room, and do a good job.  Of course you'll probably be using a less bright eco mode with better color, but as mentioned, 2000+ lumens is doable with some reasonably respectable color.  2000 lumens is a lot.  About a decade ago, 2000 lumens was the standard for rental and staging to project a 15 to 25 foot screen size in a hotel ballroom in front of up to 400 people!   Of course for those sized screens lights were definitely lowered.

This projector will tackle full room lighting on even a 100" diagonal screen, and do well.

Better Color Than These Photos

Vibrant Color

Despite camera shifting color to too much yellow, this image lets you know that the Casio's colors are capable.

Desktop backdrop

My picture of the day desktop really did look very good when projected, and without the extra yellow...

Good looking image

Even considering the camera shift, not bad!

Theater mode color before adjusting for Camera

The camera adding yellow still makes for a usable picture, but not an overly pleasing one

Photoshopped to remove camera shift

Definitely dramatically improved. This image is very close to the Casio's projected image (Theater mode). All considered, the projector's projection offers slightly better color than even this correction

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