Projectors are a great alternative to televisions for big-screen entertainment, providing larger viewable pictures for less money. The only major cons are that they usually need a darkened room and require occasional but expensive lamp replacements. LED gets around this with lamps that last up to 30,000 hours - that’s continuous use, so probably a lifetime in the real world. LED also allows projectors to be smaller and lighter. However, as full-size home cinema LED projectors tend to cost upwards of £10,000 (the Vivitek H9080FD is one of the ‘cheapest’ models), they’re not really an option for the average consumer.
At the other end of the scale we have pocket-sized Pico projectors like the Vivitek Qumi Q2, but those compromise by offering sub-HD resolutions and low maximum brightness. Mini projectors are a good compromise, with HD ready resolutions, decent brightness, and without overly slimming your wallet. In the mini projector market, BenQ’s quirkily named Joybee GP2 entrant looks like it could be top of its class, just like the award-winning BenQ GP1 before it.
We’re still talking about a stylish little box that’s smaller than five stacked CD cases and weighs a mere 565grams. Despite its diminutive size, however, the DLP GP2 can throw a 1,280 x 800 resolution image of up to 160” (and yes, we tested this and it was usable)! Other specs include a 2,400:1 contrast ratio and maximum brightness of 200 lumens. The GP2 also has every connection under the sun including HDMI and USB, can act as an output from any laptop using DisplayLink over USB (see the review of the VillageTronic ViBook for more info), has a remote, built-in iPod dock and speakers, and even offers an optional battery pack for superb mobility. Suffice to say we’re pretty excited.
First let’s talk design. BenQ seems fond of a two-tone black and white glossy finish, which we also saw on the GP1. While we would prefer variations on a single colour, it’s reasonably attractive. The advantage of using white casing is that it doesn’t show up fingerprints the way piano black does, but unfortunately the projector’s touch controls are located on the black top. Still, if you use the included remote, the GP2 should remain visibly smudge-free.
The GP2’s shape is also attractive, with smooth curves that lie comfortably in the hand. It doesn’t look as premium as ViewSonic’s recent PLED-W500 LED mini projector, but it's less than half the weight and significantly smaller. Of course it’s not the projector you should be looking at but rather the image it produces, which we’ll check out later on. The BenQ’s build quality is good, with sturdy plastics used throughout, and there’s a metal screw-thread in its base for tripod mounting.