Projector Reviews

BenQ Joybee GP1 – Review Summary

BenQ Joybee: Bottom Line

After my initial skepticism of the value of a small portable projector with only 100 rated lumens, I finally figured out what the appeal would be. While the GP1 LED projector can be used as a small business projector for small screen presentations – say up to 60 inch diagonal, or even 80 inches (with the lights off), that’s not going to be the primary draw of this mini projector. This is a projector for folks that want to do some “PC free” work, and more importantly, for people who have several portable devices that they would like to project from, be it a digital camera, camcorder, MP3 player, portable game machine (i.e. Sony PSP), and even your favorite backup hard drive. And let’s not forget hooking it up to the Apple iPods and iPhones. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the cable I needed to make my iPhone work with it, but based on my working with the other portable devices, I can see people using the GP1 projector with the iPhone, iTouch, and iPods, to view photos, video clips and YouTube videos. I plan to pick up a cable at the Apple store, and after hooking it up to my iPhone, add to this review.

The BenQ Joybee GP1 projector is fun to play with. Once I got it out of my testing room, and started playing content from all my portable devices, I really had a blast with it. OK, it’s not, by any means, exceptional in terms of color accuracy, but it does the job! And, it’s easy to use.

My point is, the GP1 is definitely reasonably bright. It seems birghter looking than the early 20 pound (110 lumen) portable projectors of the previous decade, that got the whole projector industry rolling.

Very cool! And, to further explore the GP1, I just got BenQ’s permission to hang on to this projector for another month, so I can take it with us on a family vacation to NYC. I’m going to have my daughter use the software provided to download a movie to a flash drive, plus use it to view the pictures and movie clips we take each day (Including those pictures I take with my dSLR, and those taken with my iPhone.

While this class of projector is new, and future models will no doubt be a bit brighter, and further down the road, higher resolution, the GP1 passes muster. Many folks will really like it. It’s a very interesting, and rather impressive compromise between portability and sheer horsepower, and one that many of the portable device crowd should really like. I certainly didn’t expect that the Joybee GP1 would earn a Hot Product award when I first discussed reviewing it. In fact, it wasn’t until last night, when I threw every portable device I could think of at it, that I was convinced. Bottom line: The BenQ Joybee GP1 is deserving of our Hot Product award, and so it has been awarded it.

Not a bad achievement, for a projector I wasn’t even sure I wanted to review!

BenQ Joybee Projector: Pros

The photo above is from a standard DVD version of the film A Clear and Present Danger.

  • Very portable, a large “palm sized” projector
  • Straight forward to use
  • Bright enough to be seriously viable. It can fill a 40 or 50 inch screen even with some ambient light, and can be pushed to about 80 inches diagonal in a darkened room. It’s not brilliant, but it is a whole world better than pico projectors or older mini-projectors like the Mitsubishi PK20
  • Good selection of inputs, through USB, and multifunction cable, including analog computer, composite video, component video and USB (all but the last, handled though the provided multi-function cable)
  • SVGA resolution 800×600 (actually 858×500), higher than most previous mini-projectors which were typically VGA (640×480)
  • Reasonable color performance (even though not remotely in the league of a home theater projector, or a 3LCD business projector)
  • All considered, the built in 2 watt speaker isn’t bad at all
  • Modes measured between 70 and 113 lumens but thanks to 3 LED technology, the BenQ seemed to be about twice as bright as I would have expected from a 100 watt “traditional” projector (not that there are any of those, anymore)
  • Good menu system, with lots of controls
  • Small remote, but reasonably laid out, and has controls for running slide shows, etc.
  • Included software can convert file types to work, and be run as a slideshow, or view many formats like jpeg, mjpeg, mpeg4, etc. directly from your devices
  • It really works – with portable game machines (that have outputs), digital cameras and camcorders, flash drives, and portable hard drives, portable game machines (equipped with the ability to output, such as the Sony PSP
  • One year warranty – that’s about as long as one might expect for a product like this

BenQ Joybee Projector: Cons

  • Colors tend to be oversaturated, reds a dark but intense, not particularly color accurate. Yellows are a mustardy greenish yellow (not to different from many larger, portable business DLP projectors)
  • No separate color controls which would allow improved color accuracy
  • Limited brightness as a portable business projector
  • Lacks an HDMI input (reasonable, all considered, as many portable business projectors still lack them as well, and HDMI is fairly rare on portable devices
  • No battery operation option
  • The matching power brick is fairly large, and heavy too.
  • Sound quality is very basic – yet at least comparable to the speakers on most laptops
  • IPod/iPhone special cable not included (readily available from Apple store for $49), or you can order the BenQ iPhone dock ($69), (not yet available at the time of this review)
  • Documentation – yes there’s a printed quick setup guide that is helpful, but the full manual is only on CD-ROM, and that can be a nuisance for a projector touting “PC free” operation

BenQ Joybee GP1 Projector: Typical Capabilities (for this type of projector)

  • Fixed lens – no zoom
  • Physical size
  • Weight
  • Comes with small soft carry case