Optoma Pico Projector - Physical Tour
7/2/2009 - Art Feierman
Cute certainly comes to mind (with, perhaps a touch of funky). I'm not exactly sure what it reminds me of, maybe a small "contemporary" music box, or ??? No matter, being cute normally isn't a deciding factor in buying a projector (we can only hope).
The GP1 is all white except for the top, which is shiny black.
Let's start in the front. The Joybee GP1 has a recessed fixed lens (no zoom), an vent, and an infra-red sensor for the included small remote control.
Moving to the top, you'll find a recessed area just behind the lens with the focus control. In the center, in a large circle, is the control panel, which is touch sensitive, rather than having buttons to press.
Looking from the front, on the back of the left side, is the receptacle for the power supply.
The back of the GP1 has three items of interest. There's the CEA socket for the provided multi-function cable, a stereo mini plug for audio out, a USB input, and the speaker
Moving to the bottom of the Joybee GP1, you'll find a screw thread for using a tripod. There are three small, non adjustable "feet" for three-point, stable footing.
BenQ GP1 Control Panel
The control panel of the GP1 is fully functional. The power switch is dead center - just touch it to power up. (Touch twice to power down). Surrounding the power switch are four navigational arrow keys (in a round configuration). To the lower left (looking from the back), is the Menu/Exit button. In the lower right the "button" selects your color mode, and when you are navigating the menus, it doubles as an Enter button.
In the front left, there's a Blank button to mute the video, and the front right button is the Source select. The Up and Down arrows double as manual keystone correction controls when not in menu navigation mode.
All in all, the GP1's control panel is pretty comparable to ones found on most larger business or home theater projectors.
BenQ GP1 Inputs (and outputs)
I mentioned inputs only briefly above. Basically, there is a single CEA connector input which allows you to hook up a wide range of inputs. The single provided cable has an HD15 (standard computer input) connector, as well as three color coded RCA jacks for a composite video signal and matching left and right audio.
the GP1 projector is also capable of working with high quality component video sources. To feed it component video from a device like a DVD (or Blu-ray DVD) player, cable/satellite box, game machine, etc., you'll need to have a component video cable that has the usual 3 RCA jacks (color coded Red, Green, Blue), on the source side, and an HD15 (female) connector on the Joybee GP1 end, to plug into their multi-function cable. Such cables are readily available - if not at Radio Shack then certainly online.
Because it is a single multi-function cable, you can have either component video or computer, plus a composite source hooked up at the same time. There's no way to hook up (at the same time) both component video and the usual analog computer source (that's no different than most business projectors).
In addition to the multi-function CEA connector (seen bottom center in the image above), there's that stereo mini jack previously mentioned (below the protruding USB flash drive, for outputting sound to an external device like a stereo system, or for that matter a pair of headphones or ear buds. (You'll need a typical adaptor for some.) I should note that the way to input audio is from those two audio input connectors on the multi-function cable. You can bring in the audio for the composite video source, the component video source, or audio accompanying the computer. Audio can also be input through the USB.
Finally, and with much fanfare, is the BenQ Joybee GP1 projector's USB input.
BenQ is heavily touting this feature. Here's why:
You can just plug in a USB thumb drive (memory, or disk) and view photos and video clips directly without having to lug around a source. The Joybee GP1 projector supports the following formats through the USB input:
Photos: JPEG, GIF, BMP, TIFF
Videos: MPEG4, MJPEG
Audio: MPEG-1 Layer 2, PCM
Now that's a not a wide selection of video formats, but not to fear, on the provided CD that has the manual on it, there is ArcSoft's MediaConverter software, which should expand your options. The GP1 had no problem with the movie file I shot with a point and shoot camera.
Wow! Menus just like a "big" projector. The GP1 has most of the typical adjustments found on business projectors, and also allows you to save settings. You will find all the usual suspects, including color mode selection, brightness, contrast, color saturation, tint, sharpness, color temp and other settings, as seen in this photo of the main picture menu.
In addition, you'll find other typical settings like the ability to move the menus to different locations on the screen, timers for auto power down function, and blank screen. Of course you can select sources from the menus as well. Other niceties include a high altitude mode (faster fan speed), aspect ratio (auto or manual selection), and a lot more.
There's even a Presentation Timer. For those of you who don't do presentations, that allows the projector to show the time a "slide" is in the screen, to help presenters time their presentations, and the time they spend on each slide. That's a very nice touch, that many folks who use the GP1 for presentations, will appreciate.
And here's a shocker: the BenQ GP1 has the full four projector postions available. You can not only use it the typical way - on a table top or tripod, in front of the screen, but also it can be ceiling mounted, and it can be used "table top" or ceiling mounted with a rear projection screen as well.
The rear screen abilities at first, had me intrigued, as a proper rear screen setup is barely affected by ambient light. Then, however, I remembered the lens'es relative long throw. Normally in rear screen setups, you want an ultra-short throw lens, so the area behind the screen doesn't have to be really deep. I'm sure there may be some applications for rear screen, but, in reality, few will need it.
When you use the USB reader, you get a separate set of menus to control viewing. You can select between Photo and Movie, as well as setup. Once you select, say, photo, you'll get a screen showing folders on the left, and individual images inside the selected photo, on the right side. You can select and view a single photo, or run a slideshow.
The BenQ offers various transitions, as well as timing controls (i.e. change slides every 5, 10, 15... seconds).
If you look to the image above, showing the file management, you can see a "thumbnail image" of the highlighted file. Selecting "Select" on the remote control will result that image appearing full frame. Take a close look at the thumbnail image. You'll see the full size version in the Image Quality section of this review.
BenQ Joybee GP1 Remote Control
The GP1 comes with a very nice credit card sized remote control. The buttons, of course, are small, but they have a decent feel, much better than some credit card remotes with those soft "bubble" buttons. The layout is decently done, although the arrow keys could be better positioned. I repeatedly had trouble finding the left arrow button in the dark.
Along with all the basic navigation features, source selection, etc., you'll also find a Blank screen feature, Freeze feature, a digital zoom feature, Source, an Auto setup, Menu, and color Mode.
On the lower half of the GP1 remote control, there are what looks like DVD controls. They are there for navigating your slide shows, etc.
BenQ GP1 Lens Throw
The lens is fixed - no zoom. The ratio of the lens itself is 1.92:1 - that is, the distance from the screen is 1.92 times the width of the projected image. To project a 40 inch wide image this BenQ projector needs to be placed 1.92 x 40 inches from the surface you are projecting on. In this example, 77 inches back. Just as an aside, the throw on the GP1 is almost identical to the Optoma Pico we reviewed a couple of months ago.
GP1 Lens Shift
There is no adjustable lens shift - not that anyone would expect it on a product like this one. The BenQ GP1, however, does have fixed lens offset, similar to the amount found on most business projectors. That translates to: If you set it up the Joybee with the projector about even with the bottom of your screen, you should get a very rectangular image without needed to engage keystone correction. And on that note, the projector does offer automatic keystone correction, which can be turned off from the menus.