Between electricity and the needed replacement lamps, most budget projectors consume roughly one-third their initial cost each year it’s in service. That adds up to a lot of money for every projector in a school, except for Casio’s EcoLite XJ-V1, which not only will never need a new lamp but uses less power than conventional projectors.
Instead of a traditional high-pressure lamp, the XJ-V1 is built around Casio’s sixth-generation of solid-state illumination engine that is based on three elements: red LEDs create red light while a blue laser assembly creates blue light directly. In addition, the blue laser light is also aimed at a phosphor disk that coverts it into green light. An optical condenser combines the three color beams and reflects it off of a Digital Light Processing (DLP) imaging chip and onto the projector’s output lens.
Because it is based on solid state LEDs and lasers, the XJ-V1’s lighting engine is rated to last 20,000 hours of use, roughly five-times that of a traditional lamp. For most uses, it means that it will never have to be replaced, compared to most projectors, which will need to have the lamp replaced every year or two for anywhere between $75 and $350.
It's a power miser, as well. The projector uses just 121-watts when in use, or roughly one-half that of a traditional projector. When it’s idle, the XJ-V1 uses 0.1 watts, which adds up to estimated annual operating expenses of $24 if it’s used for 10 hours every school day and idle the rest of the time. That’s roughly one-fifth that of just about any conventional projector.
That may not sound like much, but compared to a conventional projector that uses $200 lamps, the XJ-V1 should start paying for itself after about two years of typical school use. After that it’s gravy that reduces any school’s expenses.
The XJ-V1 should fit right into the classroom with adjustable feet for tabletop use as well as four mounting points for setting it up on a ceiling. Setting it up is quick and easy. While it has vertical keystone correction, like other entry-level projectors, it lacks horizontal keystone control or lens shifting. As a result, you need to have the projector directly in front of the screen.
It has a 1.1X optical zoom lens and delivers XGA resolution, which is a disappointment in an age where HD is filtering into classroom projectors and 4K resolution is becoming old hat with large LCD displays. It can create usable images from 2.5-feet to as large as 25-feet, work with a variety of input resolutions and can create an 8-foot image when it’s set up about 10-feet from the screen.
While it has the basic ports (HDMI, VGA and audio), the XJ-V1 is one of the only projectors in its class that does without a speaker, but worked fine with an external speaker. Still, it’s a quick starter that’s able to put an image up on its screen in less than 5 seconds and shut itself off in less than a second. When it gets warmed up, the XJ-V1 puts 2,677 lumens on screen, slightly off its 2,700 lumen specification. Still, it’s more than bright enough for most classroom uses and can used on a sunny day with the shades up and the lights on. On the downside, its fan is very loud, but the case never gets more than warm to the touch.
Its $700 price tag may seem high but the XJ-V1 comes with a three-year general warranty as well as five-years of coverage for the illumination engine. In other words, the longer you use it, the more you’ll save.
+ 3-/5-year warranty
+ Low operating expenses
+ Lifetime illumination engine
+ Quick on and off
- XGA resolution
- No speaker