BenQ’s JoyBee GP1 is another entry into the fast-growing and wonderfully gadgety world of pocket projectors. It’s capable of producing 80in pictures from a body that’s about as portable as a hardbook book – and that’s just the start of a surprisingly long list of attractions.
For instance, with its genuinely tiny dimensions, light weight, glossy finish and striking black-and-white colour scheme, it’s the most attractive of the practical pocket projectors we’ve seen to date (we don’t count Optoma’s gorgeous but utterly impractical PK101).
The GP1 also scores major points thanks to the amount of sources it can play. Not that this is immediately apparent from the projector’s exterior. For the only connections visible are a USB port, a headphone jack, and a weird little slot that looks like an Apple iPod docking slot, but isn’t.
It turns out that this is actually for a proprietary BenQ cable, supplied with the projector, that can take in composite video, stereo audio and VGA feeds.
What’s more, although the slim port isn’t an iPod jack, you can actually hook your iPod up to the projector for audio and video playback via a proprietary optional (£30) docking station.
It’s the GP1’s USB port that really opens the playback floodgates, though, as it’s capable of playing virtually every video format under the sun, including DivX and XviD.
Suits will also welcome the fact that if you export a Powerpoint presentation as a series of still images, you can run a presentation from the projector directly, using the USB input, without needing your PC.
Both home and business users, meanwhile, will appreciate how easy the GP1 is to set up, with a light-touch focus wheel on the projector’s top, simple keystone adjustment and well-designed onscreen menus.
The remote control is perhaps too small for comfort and rather short on buttons, and – as with all pocket projectors so far – there’s no optical zoom. But it’s still about as ‘plug and play’ as a projector could get.
Although the GP1’s picture performance isn’t quite as strong as that of Samsung’s P400B pocket projector rival, it’s still better than expected given how much smaller BenQ’s offering is.
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For instance, despite a mere 100 lumens quoted light output, it’s possible for you to watch a genuinely punchy 60in image in a dark room. You might find that you need to reduce this to around 40in if there’s much ambient light, but that’s not bad for a pocket projector.
Clean and colourful
Colours are reasonably rich, too, and a tight lid is kept on video noise, with only some sporadic moiré noise over patches of very fine detail to complain about.
Black levels, meanwhile, are decent – not as profound as those of the Samsung, but good enough to show dark scenes with reasonable conviction and detail.
The GP1’s pictures aren’t, however, as sharp as we’d like – a function, perhaps, of whatever processing is required to convert incoming signals to the projector’s unusual 858x600 native resolution.
Not so super sonics
Colours sometimes look a bit over-cooked as well, especially where skin tones are concerned, and the sound produced by the built-in 2W speakers is only adequate. But, again, ‘adequate’ is actually pretty good by pocket projector standards.
There are a few little practical shortcomings to wrap up with, too. The carry bag supplied with the GP1 isn’t really thick enough to provide much protection against knocks, there’s no lens cover (though the lens is very recessed), and the cooling fans kick out quite a racket for such a little machine.