As a media player, the Joybee GP2 can handle a large number of file types either from a USB stick, SD card, or the 2GB of internal memory. The OSD is nice and colourful, and mostly attractive. It can be a bit clunky and slow to load on occasion, and folder navigation isn’t made easy by the lack of folder names in the default picture view, but overall it’s certainly usable.
Music playback is extensive, with support for MP3, MP2, APE, FLAC, OGG and WAV. Pictures, meanwhile, can be appreciated in JPG, BMP or PNG format, though it’s worth noting that – bizarrely – the GP2 crashed several times when trying to access our image library folder.
Like so many small projectors recently, the GP2 can also display Microsoft Office documents and PDFs for those rare business presentations where you absolutely can’t carry the laptop in (only use this functionality if you can’t avoid it, as it’s a slow and awkward process compared to viewing these files on a laptop).
So far, so good, and we were hoping the GP2 would be as accomplished as the best in its class. Alas, this dream was shattered the moment we tried playing an HD MKV video file. BenQ’s beastie wouldn’t recognise it, claiming the video was “damaged”. We tried various high-def MKVs (which work fine on other projectors), but the GP2 would have none of it. This is a real shame, as standard definition of every variety and even 1080p Xvid and MOV material played without a hitch, so BenQ’s latest obviously has some untapped prowess here.
Kids will love the GP2 – just make sure they don’t sit in front of the throw trajectory.
Overall, the GP2’s media talents are decent if not quite on par with the best of the rest, but its many connections and USB streaming pretty much make up for this (ViewSonic’s PLED-W500 would be superior here if only it had an audio output).
What matters more is image quality, so how does BenQ’s latest hold up? Like most small LED DLP projectors we’ve looked at recently, the answer is ‘quite well’ – though it’s not the most impressive performance we’ve seen.
Colours are vibrant and, though the default is oversaturated on all of the picture presets (or “Modes” as BenQ calls them), they can be customised to be more accurate. The ‘User’ preset is the only one you can modify and thus the only one you’ll want to use for movies and other serious entertainment, though the others tend to be fine for things like presentations or YouTube videos. One immediate niggle is that you can’t alter picture quality settings when in the menus or while streaming over USB, though at least you can switch between presets/modes.
Unfortunately, though blacks were nice and deep (as one would expect from DLP) there was just a tad of crush on the more subtle shadow details, and the GP2 couldn’t quite bring out the darkest shades of our greyscale test. You also need to remember that you’ll want to sit a few metres away to avoid seeing pixel structure, though this is a criticism of all HD Ready projectors and can even affect Full HD models. Bearing this in mind, the picture was nice and crisp, even at its maximum usable throw distance.
If this all sounds a little mixed, it’s worth remembering that the GP2 still gives a vibrant and enjoyable picture, and that it should satisfy all but the most demanding users. It also has the advantage over LCD displays of perfect viewing angles and of course size plus price (just think how much a 120” TV would cost)! However, the ViewSonic did edge this smaller projector out in overall image quality, and was less temperamental about its setup too.