There’s a growing market for the new breed of mini projectors, judging by the rash of models being launched by most of the major players. Benq has recently released the ‘Joybee’ GP1: we don’t know why ‘Joybee’ and will just call it the GP1 in this review. It’s described as palm-sized and that gives a good feel for its dimensions of 136 x 120 x 54mm.
The glossy black and white case is conspicuous not just for its small size, but for the array of back-lit touch controls on its top and the lack of any conventional input sockets. Benq has chosen to provide a conversion cable to a thin, iPod-like proprietary socket in the back of the unit, instead.
The other end of the cable has an analogue VGA connector and Composite RCA sockets. There’s also a mini jack for stereo sound output, but it’s hard to see that getting a lot of use. The projector makes a little sound of its own, but it’s noticeably quieter than, for example, the Acer K10 pico-projector we reviewed recently.
This is another of those projectors using high-intensity LEDs for illumination, instead of a halogen lamp. The light source has an output of just 100 lumens, but also produces much less heat, because of the increased efficiency of the LED, which gives the lamp a typical service life of 20,000 hours, over six times as long as many halogen projectors.
The projector uses one of Texas Instruments’ DLP chips to handle the signal and manages to produce an image with a diagonal size of up to 60-inches or so in a darkened room, though rather less than that if the curtains aren’t drawn.
The image is sharp and can handle TV and video input without jittering, as well as Windows screens for PowerPoint, though there is some pink and blue fringing to white details and it’s not always easy to get the projector to show a neutral colour set. Benq does its best, by providing automatic compensation for coloured walls – clever idea – but it’s all too easy to get a pink hue with the default settings played on a white wall.
A nice touch is the ability to project stills or videos directly from a USB drive – there’s a socket on the back of the GP1 – without having a computer connected. A menu pops up on-screen and you can select the files to display with the remote.
Controls on the top of the projector lead to a well structured, easy-to-read menu system and the buttons are duplicated on the remote control, though without nearly such a good layout. Other accessories include a black block power supply, which adds to the projector’s bulk, and a padded carrying case, which only takes the projector, not the PSU or cables.