Review Price £449.95
BenQ Joybee GP2 - Connectivity, Controls, Remote and Bag
It’s difficult to know where to begin with the GP2’s connectivity, since there’s so much of it. At the projector’s rear you’ll find a full-size SDHC card slot – a far more flexible alternative to most mini and micro projectors’ MicroSDHC slots, though it is hidden behind a somewhat awkward flap. On the left is where you’ll find the majority of connections. These include HDMI for video, a proprietary port that offers VGA and composite through an included adapter, plus standard and micro USB.
The microUSB port doesn’t let you connect memory sticks to play content directly; that’s left to the full-size USB 2.0 port beside it. However, the smaller connector uses DisplayLink technology to allow it to accept input from any Windows computer with a USB port. It’s really as simple as plugging a USB cable into both devices and hey presto, your projector has all the options of a secondary monitor hooked up through HDMI. Even so, this functionality is not unique on a projector, as ViewSonic’s PLED-W500 shares this ability and it’s likely to be standard on other mini projectors this generation.
We’ll get onto the GP2’s media player talents through that USB 2.0 port in a moment, but first let’s continue with the other connections. Audio is catered for by 3.5mm line in and out jacks (sadly omissions on some rivals, the W500 in particular suffering from its lack of output), which makes external speaker systems or headphones an alternative to the projector’s poor inbuilt speakers.
Finally, up top we have the iPod/iPhone dock, which also charges your Apple device. That covers every base we can think of out of the box (barring component from your Wii, which requires an extra adapter), and it’s fair to say that BenQ’s pint-sized beast has more connectivity than many high-end monitors! Oh, and did we mention there’s an excellent full-colour manual showing how to hook up the GP2 to almost anything?
Getting to controls, those on the projector are touch-sensitive, fully backlit and laid out in a ring around a central OK ‘button’. They’re not quite as responsive as the better touch controls we’ve come across on various devices, but they’re perfectly usable.
Unfortunately its remote is where BenQ’s miniature marvel encounters its first hiccup. Stylish as super-slim ‘flat’ remotes are, they’re not particularly comfortable to hold, require cell batteries which can’t be replaced with rechargeables, invariably have horrible buttons, and are never backlit. This particular dinky model is no exception, and in the dark especially it’s a pain to use since all its buttons are the same shape and size. BenQ could really take a lesson from ViewSonic here.
Some of those buttons (pause, rewind and fast forward) will also only work for an iPod/iPhone, which is annoying. We do appreciate the “Blank” button though, which instantly turns the screen black and mutes the volume – handy for avoiding all kinds of embarrassing situations, we’re sure.
Before we get onto the GP2’s media talents, it’s also worth mentioning the carrying case you get with the projector. This is a lightly padded, felt affair with separate compartments for the device, its power/adapter cables and remote, and a Velcro system for holding it closed. It makes a nice inclusion - however, as with the remote, it’s again outclassed by the ViewSonic mini projector’s solid mesh-nylon case with magnetic flap, zippered compartment and sturdy carrying strap.