BenQ GV1 Portable Projector Review
Portable projectors are an interesting product. They’re not quite there for full blown cinema entertainment in your living room, and they’re certainly able to cast a bigger image than your mobile phone. So what are they for? Well, a number of things. You can use them to show off your holiday snaps to your family, you can stick them in the garden during your evening bbq event and watch the football, or you can take it to the office to go through that important slideshow you’ve just made. Which is why we wanted to check one out for ourselves. BenQ reached out to us and asked us to take a look at their new GV1 Portable Projector, and we jumped at the chance. Here’s what we thought
The unit is relatively small, standing at 80mm x 155mm x 80mm thought is a little on the heavier side at 708g. It comes with a carrying case, which will protect it from scratches when inside a backpack or luggage. On top you will find four buttons including the power button. You’ve got a volume source selector too. The annoying thing is the fact there’s no way of navigating the menus without the remote, so wherever you take the projector, the remote must go with it. On the side you’ve got the focusing ring which is extremely sensitive, and it took a little bit of time for me to focus the image properly.
On the back you can find an input for power and a USB Type-C port. The USB port is for connecting video devices to the projector for a hard wired connection. Take note though that the device will require a USB Type-C connection and will need to support DisplayPort 1.1 in order for the projector to detect it. BenQ really missed a trick here by not including a HDMI port for more universal devices to be plugged in.
The portable projector is capable of throwing out a 854 x 480 pixel image, or 480p for short. This is low, especially for a 2019 product. I would have liked to have seen at least a minimum of 720p as a native resolution although the projector can handle resolutions up to 1920 x 1080. Saying that though, it is still relatively crisp, especially when the source video resolution is a lot higher than the native ability of the projector.
I found the the BenQ GV1 worked best when sitting around a meter to a meter and a half from a wall. This threw out an image of around 30 – 35 inches. Not too bad for something this size. The projector can produce images of up to 100″, but quality is severely reduced. The projector can hit a maximum brightness of 200 ANSI Lumens when plugged into a power source which isn’t bad, but is far from the brightest projectors on the market. To get the most out of the 10,000:1 contrast ratio, you should really be using it in a very dimly lit room, if not in darkness.
Colour unfortunately though is a little dull. It’s a shame, as the size of the projector could work well as some kind of unit you would take on holiday with you to stick in your hotel room and watch movies at night, or to show off your holiday snaps once you’re back home with your family. It doesn’t help that you would probably throw the image onto a standard wall. It’s not big enough to warrant having some kind of projector screen. I must also state it would probably work best on some kind of white wall too.
The head of the projector can tilt back up to 15-degrees, which is great if you’re wanting to throw an image so the centre line is above the projector’s eyesight. What more, there’s keystone adjustments, of which correct up to a 40-degree throw. It skews the image so it keeps its perfect 16:9 aspect ratio.
Once you’ve gone through the initial clunky setup, having keyed in your WiFi details, only to be struck with an update, to then have to key in your details again, you will find two ways this projector can be used. The first is by using apps that can be installed onto the device itself, and secondly, by casting your mobile device to the projector. Casting works exactly like it would on a television. It mirrors your phone screen through the projector.
On board you will be able to find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor backed up with 1GB RAM memory. There’s 8GB of flash memory too which isn’t much, but is plenty enough for your apps. Speaking off apps, you will find you can install things like YouTube for Android, Netflix, Plex and a bunch of others that you have probably never heard of. And for the most part, the apps work fine when installed on the projector. However, when I cast my Google Pixel 3, apps like Netflix didn’t show an image and instead used the projector as an external speaker instead. Also, when on the on-board Netflix app, navigating the menus was a little complicated and I couldn’t access things like the subtitles menu when watching a show.
In terms of media playback through the apps though, it’s a solid experience. It has a dual-band network ability meaning you can hook it up to a 5GHz bandwidth to give you a clearer signal between your router and the GV1. It also has built in speakers too, so if you are watching Netflix, sound will come from the unit. The 5w speaker is okay, but they do lack bass but that was expected with such a small unit.
The BenQ GV1 portable projector is a nice idea, and executed fairly well. Quality is fine as long as the projection isn’t too big and the inclusion of a built in speaker makes it a nice all round package. However, the issues with casting from my phone is something that’s a little frustrating. Blocking apps like Netflix and the like. The last thing is the reliance on the remote control. Having to bring that along with you where the projector goes is a tad frustrating as it’s very small, and could easily be lost if taken on holiday, and when you can’t find it, you’re screwed.