Ultra-short throw. Long-lasting light source. Can project 3D content. Good data image quality. Standard Ethernet.
Pricey. Significant rainbow effect in video.
- Bottom Line
The Casio XJ-UT351WN is a hybrid laser/LED data projector with a very short throw distance, good data image quality, and long lamp life.
By Tony Hoffman
The XJ-UT351WN ($1,799.99), Casio's latest WXGA ultra-short-throw data projector, can project a large image when placed close to a screen. Although it's priced on the high side, it uses Casio's hybrid LED/laser projection technology, so its light source will likely never need replacing. Data-image quality is a strong point, being nearly as good as the Epson PowerLite 585W WXGA 3LCD Projector. Unlike that Editors' Choice model, which delivers above-average video quality for a data projector, the XJ-UT351WN's video is rife with potentially distracting rainbow artifacts. But should you need an ultra-short-throw network projector with a strong set of connection choices exclusively (or nearly so) for PowerPoint and other data presentations, the XJ-UT351WN is a worth considering.
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Design and Features
The XJ-UT351WN's light source is rated at 3,500 lumens—brighter than its 3,100-lumen predecessor, the Casio XJ-UT310WN—and has WXGA (1,280-by-800) native resolution. Casio's LED/laser light engine produces red light with LEDs, blue with lasers, and green by shining blue laser light on a phosphor. The projector's optical system directs the red, green, and blue light to the DLP chip, and out the front lens. The light source is rated at 20,000 hours, meaning that it should effectively last the lifetime of the projector. This means, over the long run, you could end up saving money compared with buying a less expensive projector with a light source that needs to be replaced. Another benefit is that unlike many conventional lamps, the XJ-UT351WN's light source is mercury-free.
The all-white XJ-UT351WN measures 6 by 16.5 by 13.1 inches (HWD) and weighs 13.2 pounds, making it best for permanent installation, either on a low table near the screen, or attached above the screen to a wall mount, which you can pick up through third-party vendors. Some similar ultra-short-throw projectors, including the Epson 585W and the BenQ MW855UST, include a wall mount and related hardware.
As an ultra-short-throw model, light emerges from a window near the back of the projector and fans upward to fill the screen (or downward if it's in a ceiling mount.) One thing to note is that ultra-short-throw projectors require very flat screens, because any ripples may cause distortion in the image.
Ports and Connectivity
The ports are on the side of the projector, near the focus lever. As if to encourage the XJ-UT351WN's placement upside-down in a ceiling mount, all the lettering to identify the ports is printed upside-down from how you would expect it when the projector is placed on a table with the image projecting upward. (Note that in the image below, the panel is rotated 180 degrees for easy reading.)
The XJ-UT351WN has a generous set of connections, including two HDMI ports, two VGA-in ports (which double as component video), a VGA-out port for connecting to an external monitor, and one S-Video port. It includes RCA jacks for composite video and stereo audio, plus four small (2.5mm) audio jacks: one for a microphone, two audio-in, and one audio-out. It has an Ethernet port, plus a USB Type A port for connecting a USB thumb drive or an optional Wi-Fi adapter. There's also a micro-USB type B port, but only for use in displaying a school or company logo when the projector is warming up.
Data Image Quality
I did still and video image testing under theater-dark conditions, with the image filling my test screen (approximately 80 inches diagonal) with the front of the projector less than a foot away from the screen. I tested the projector with it set on a small table aligned with the bottom of the screen. The addition of a fair amount of ambient light did not adversely affect image quality.
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Data image quality, as tested using the DisplayMate suite of projector tests, was solid, and should be suitable for typical business and classroom presentations. Black type on white was readable down to 7.5 points, while white type on black was readable at 9 points. Color balance was good, with only a hint of green in some grayscale images. Colors looked reasonably true, although some reds and blues were a bit on the dull side. (This is not unusual for DLP projectors, which often suffer from lower color brightness than white brightness).
I saw rainbow artifacts—little red-green-blue rainbow-like flashes, particularly in brighter areas against dark backgrounds—in several images. This rainbow effect, which I often see in single-chip DLP-based projectors, is more apparent with the XJ-UT351WN than with an average data projector. Still, rainbow artifacts are seldom a significant issue in data presentations, and you should be fine unless your presentation has white or light-colored text or illustrations on a black or other dark background.
Video and Audio
Rainbow artifacts were apparent in video as well, and those who are even mildly sensitive to the effect would likely find themselves distracted. In some scenes, colors—particularly reds and blues—looked a bit muted. I also noticed more digital noise (graininess) than usual. The rainbow effect, though, is easily the most serious issue, and it effectively limits the use of video to short clips as part of a presentation. Audio from the single 16-watt speaker is loud, and should fill a small to midsize room. Sound quality is reasonably good.
An ultra-short-throw data projector, the Casio XJ-UT351WN can cast a large image when placed very close to the screen, making it a good choice for tight spaces. It's also bright, and has powerful enough audio to be good for use in up to midsize rooms. While it's on the pricey side, its long-lasting light source may never need replacing, so in the long run you could save money over buying a projector that uses conventional lamps. The XJ-UT351WN is a good choice for a business or school looking for a projector that can display crisp text and detailed presentations. An excess of rainbow artifacts make it a poor choice for showing video longer than very short clips, but it's a good projector should your needs be restricted to PowerPoint and other data presentations.
As Analyst for printers, scanners, and projectors, Tony Hoffman tests and reviews these products and provides news coverage for these categories. Tony has worked at PC Magazine since 2004, first as a Staff Editor, then as Reviews Editor, and more recently as Managing Editor for the printers, scanners, and projectors team. In addition to editing, Tony has written articles on digital photography and reviews of digital cameras, PCs, and iPhone apps Prior to joining the PCMag team, Tony worked for 17 years in magazine and journal… More »
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