In a departure from most multimedia projectors, the Optoma TX542 has a sharp-looking gloss black case. Its lens is offset to the right side of the projector when facing it. The front panel is angled back so the top of the lens housing, which consists of the focus ring, is fully exposed. Just behind the lens in a recess in the top of the projector is a zoom adjustment ring. There is an IR receiving eye just to the left of the lens. To the left of that is a heat exhaust vent. There is one front height adjustment screw foot in the center. There is no push-button release like most projectors have. Height adjustments are made by screwing the foot in or out. There are two screw feet in the rear, one in each corner, for adjusting the rear height.
On top of the projector, right in the center, toward the rear, is a control panel with the most oft-used functions, which includes indicators for power on, lamp status and temperature (if overheating). There are buttons for Power, Keystone correction (which also serve as menu navigation Up/Down buttons), Menu, Navigation (Up, Down, Left, Right and Enter) and Help. The Left/Right menu navigation buttons also function as Source and Re-sync respectively.
On the left side (again facing the front of the projector), toward the rear, is the intake vent. Access to the lamp is on the bottom of the projector. While this necessitates removal of the projector if it’s ceiling mounted, it is unlikely that a projector this portable would be installed in a fixed location, making this less of an issue.
Moving to the rear panel, we see a nice array of inputs, including an HDMI input. Starting at the top left, there is a LAN jack for a network connection. Below that is the power cord jack. Moving across the top from left to right, there is a USB jack that, when connected to a computer, enables the projector’s remote to act as a mouse. This is followed by an HDMI input, two VGA inputs (that can also serve as a component video input) and a VGA output. Continuing on, there’s an RS-232C input for computer control of the projector and inputs for S-video and composite video. These are followed by individual audio input jacks for VGA 1, VGA 2 and one for S-video and composite video combined. There is also an audio output jack, 12 volt output (to trigger an electric projection screen) as well as a Kensington lock and security bar.
Optoma TX542 Setup and Menu
Setup of the TX542 is fairly straightforward. As with most DLP projectors, especially those in the TX542’s class, zoom range is limited. If you’re not using the projector on a movable cart, you’ll need to consult the user guide to find out how far the projector needs to be from your particular screen. Once you’re within the TX542’s zoom range, the three screw adjustment feet (one in the center front, two in the rear corners) make it easy to line up and square up the TX542 with the screen.
Bringing up the menu, the user can select the desired display mode and make the usual adjustments (contrast, brightness, color and tint) to the picture. There is also a choice of three different color temperatures. Unlike many multimedia projectors in this price range, the TX542 offers grayscale calibration adjustments for red, green and blue. While this is not something that’s usually needed for the projector’s intended use, it’s still nice to have if presenting images with dark scenes that may look too red (for example) or whites that look too blue or green. There are also adjustments available for the projector’s secondary (cyan, magenta and yellow) colors, though these affect the projector’s full grayscale range from white to black. This level of control is unusual for business/education projectors, and is a welcome feature of the TX542. Brilliant color can also be adjusted in a range from 0 to 10. However, we would recommend that brilliant color is left at its default setting of 10 (Classroom is the only display mode that uses a lower (5) brilliant color setting), as lower levels reduce the lumen output greatly.
Optoma TX542 Remote Control
The TX542’s remote control is a small, black remote with charcoal gray buttons. Buttons are appropriately grouped and cover all the important functions without accessing them through the menu. The one oddity is that the buttons that are used when the remote is used as a PC mouse (which are the most prominent buttons on the remote) have no other function. One would normally expect them to control menu navigation, but that’s done with other buttons that have dual functions. This can be somewhat confusing to the first time user.
In addition to the mouse navigational and left/right click buttons, there are buttons for image re-sync and freeze, AV mute, individual input switching, digital zoom and keystone correction. There are also buttons to control the volume of the projector’s 5-watt per channel built-in speakers
The buttons are not backlit or even glow-in-the-dark, but that is standard for multimedia projectors, where backlighting can often be distracting. One nice touch that we’re seeing on more multimedia projector remotes these days in the inclusion of a laser pointer. However, the laser pointer buttons is right next to the Power button, requiring the presenter to be careful.