BenQ GV30 Review
Versatile and fun to use, just don’t expect cutting edge video performance
The GV30 offers a contemporary spin on the portable projector. Its slick, rugged form is designed to be hauled from room to room, or even to be taken outside for al-fresco viewing – and with Android TV built-in, it’s tailor-made for streaming services.
- Compact, rugged design
- Built-in Android TV
- 2.5-hour battery life
- Doesn’t deliver a true black
- Limited overall brightness
- Not Full HD
- Smart platformAndroid TV support
- Claimed brightness300 ANSI lumens or brightness
The BenQ GV30 is a family-friendly portable projector for streaming services and non-critical viewing. Compact pico projectors aren’t new, but early samples often lacked the wireless functionality embraced here, often requiring that they be tethered to much larger source components.
But with a bundled Android TV dongle here, you can enjoy your boxset bingeing anywhere in the house, or even outside on the decking – weather permitting, of course. Everything you need is built-in: source, sound and power. So how does the BenQ GV30 perform? Let’s find out…
- UKRRP: £529
- USARRP: $599
- EuropeRRP: €599
- AustraliaRRP: AU$999
The BenQ GV30 is available now, priced at a competitive £499. It costs the same as BenQ’s cube-shaped GS2, another ultra-portable that offers streaming apps albeit from the Aptoide TV smart platform.
The GV30 is also comparable in price to the stationary, powered Full HD projectors often favoured by gamers.
- Integrated carry hand
- Punchy sound system
- Google TV HDMI stick
The GV30 may be compact, but it’s big on style. BenQ has come up with a look that’s fresh and futuristic, as well as practical.
With grilles on both sides, the all-white puck-shaped projector sits in a curvy cradle, secured by magnets. The mustard-coloured carry handle helps you to lug it around.
Rugged by design, the GV30 is said to be drop-proof up to 0.7m, which should provide some peace of mind when it’s wheeled out for a kids party.
One of the grille covers disguises the projector’s audio system, while the other covers the HDMI input for the supplied Google HDMI stick. To put this in place requires you to pop off the cover. BenQ bundles a little orange plectrum to do the job, but it’s actually very tight; too much pressure could damage the cover, so take care.
Having the projector effectively sitting free in its pedestal bowl allows you to easily adjust the angle of projection. There’s a latitude of 135 degrees.
Up top are physical controls for volume, Bluetooth and power, but the GV30 comes with a simple remote control, too. A neat carry case for storage and travel is also included.
- Google TV dongle…
- …but no Netflix or BBC iPlayer apps
The supplied Google Android TV dongle is key to the operation of the GV30. It allows users to stream leading apps, as well as Chromecast content directly from a smartphone.
Helpfully, there’s also an HDMI (v1.4) input for local sources. This could be used to hook up a pay TV box, disc player or games console. While it’s unlikely that competitive gamers would opt for a GV30, most casual players will be happy with its super-sized images, even with an input lag of 51ms (1080/60).
The Android 9 interface will be familiar to those who have used the Google TV platform before. It’s like an Android TV, without linear TV content.
However, this dongle doesn’t provide extensive access to the Google Play Store, and available apps are actually quite limited. At the time of writing, there’s no Netflix or BBC iPlayer, for example. If these are important to you, check availability before you buy. What you get is Prime Video, which comes with a dedicated button on the remote control, as well as Disney+, ITV Hub, Apple TV+, StarzPlay and YouTube.
The GV30 requires a fair distance to cast an image, since it isn’t a short-throw design. Around 2m will get you a 65-inch picture; you can edge it larger, but the image begins to suffer if pushed too far.
Set up is a doddle. It will autofocus, and there’s auto vertical keystone correction, if you need it.
- 720p HD Ready resolution
- Limited brightness
- High operating noise
Dim the lights, pull the curtains…and the GV30 looks pretty good. Like all pico projectors, the image isn’t particularly bright at 300 ANSI lumens, but when you weigh things in its favour, it’s easy to be swept along by its giant-sized images.
Limitations include a black level that isn’t particularly pronounced, and contrast – which BenQ quotes at 100,000:1 – is a little flat.
Try to watch something dark and moody, and shadow detail and texture is lost in a sea of grey. It’s a different story when the source material is colour-rich. The GV30 does a great job with bright primaries, which look uniformly solid and noise-free. Animations and brightly lit scenes make the most of the projector’s power output. Pixar looks good; The Walking Dead less so.
At the heart of the GV30 is a 0.23-inch DMD (digital micromirror device), and it’s notable mainly for the sharpness of its imagery. The projector may only be a 720p model, but detail holds up remarkably well at scale.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is just how crisp the GV30’s pictures can look; 720p it may be, but HD sources appear reassuringly sharp, and the main Google UI is deliciously crisp.
The sound system on the GV30 goes some way to compensate for the projector’s inherently high operating noise (we don’t begrudge the wee fella trying to keep cool). Developed by BenQ audio offshoot treVolo, it’s a punchy little performer.
The projector avoids the common pitfall of thin sound, thanks to a dedicated 8W woofer that complements two 4W drivers. You’ll need to whack up the volume, but it doesn’t stress out and distort.
Should you buy it?
You want a go-anywhere portable big-screen experience Its compact pill-shaped form factor is easy to cart around, thanks to that handy carry handle and 2.5 battery life…
You want the very best picture performance for your cash Offering just a 720p resolution, this isn’t a projector for AV fanatics. The same money will buy you a better-performing non-portable HD model. Convenience is (literally) the watch word here…
The GV30 is family-centric reinvention of the portable projector that works well for impromptu screening parties, sporting weekends and everyday gaming. We love its compact, funky design and inventive practicality (the pedestal bowl is a case in point).
It clearly isn’t a performance model, but that doesn’t dent our enthusiasm. The GV30 is just as good for glamping, as it is for a kids sleepover. Consider it an all-round entertainer.
How we test
We test every projector we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.
Tested for more than a week
Tested with real world use
Tested with (HD/SD) and video streams
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The GV30 can only go up to 720p and doesn’t support HDR.