BenQ GP1 Joybee Mini-Projector

The Review

A couple of weeks ago I received the BenQ GP1 Joybee Mini-Projector to review. When I looked up the spec’s, I knew it was a small projector, but it also boasted things like 120 percent NTSC color gamut, 2,000:1 contrast ratio, and a 20,000-hour rated lamp life, so I was expecting at least a decent-sized box. When it showed up, I was surprised just how small the box was - like easily-carry-in-one-hand small. So I open it up to find the projector itself takes up about half of the box. This projector is smaller than a Mac mini (measuring in at 5.4 × 4.7 × 2.1 inches and weighing just 1.4lbs). I unpacked everything and laid it out on my desk. Here are my first impressions before even turning it on:
  • The projector itself is pretty sexy looking: a glossy white body with a glossy black top.
  • The lens is not covered, but quite recessed into the body, so, unless you’re trying to, it’ll be hard to scratch it.
  • The focus ring is also recessed into the body but it slides smoothly
  • The buttons on the top look “Apple iPod touch-wheel-esque”
  • The power brick is HUGE (larger than that of my laptop, printer, A/C unit, etc - it’s seriously almost half the size of the projector itself)
  • The remote control, while laid out well, is ridiculously ugly
  • The carrying case fits the projector nicely and would protect the projector inside my camera bag; unfortunately, there’s no place to pack the humongous power brick
  • There’s a standard tripod mount at the bottom of the projector - could be handy if there’s not a good place to set the projector down on


BenQ GP1 Joybee Mini-Projector with USB Stick


So those were my impressions before turning it on. Overall, it looked pretty decent, and as long as I could hide the remote and power brick, and find an easier way to pack it all up, I wouldn’t hesitate to carry it around with me in a camera bag (I’ll get to “why” down a couple more paragraphs). So I hooked it all up, and start playing around with it (typical guy thing - play around with it first and see if you can get it working without looking at the manual). Here are my thoughts after playing around with it for half-an-hour:
  • The sexy-looking glossy black and white body aren’t quite as sexy when they’re covered in finger-prints - this thing is a finger-print magnet
  • The iPod touch-wheel-esque touch-sensitive, blue-backlit buttons look awesome, but I found myself having to either press harder, press more than once, or press off-center to get them to work all the time
  • The projected image is WAY brighter than I was expecting - I projected the image about 6 feet away in the middle of the day, and had an acceptable image
  • One of the coolest things about this projector is that it has a USB port right on the back, so you can show photos or even watch movies straight from a USB stick - that’s slick
  • I browsed through some of their included photos (on a 2GB USB stick they provided), and watched a couple of short movies on there as well - again, the images and movies looked great (though the 2-watt speaker sounded about what you’d expect from a 2-watt speaker - it does have a headphone/audio out jack, so you can hook up external speakers or headphones if you want)
  • Automatic keystone correction works really well (keystone correction keeps the image level even if the projector is tilted up or down)
  • You can connect external devices through proprietary A/V port, with a combination VGA and composite cable for hooking up laptops, DVD players, etc (there’s also an optional iPod dock that should be available in the next week or so)
  • It’s compatible with jpeg, bmp, gif and tiff images, and avi, mov, and mpeg4 for videos. It’s maximum resolution is 858 × 600 (file resolution can be higher, but it will downscale them if needed)
  • When images are downscaled, they look a little fuzzy - especially up close - but if you’re standing more then 4 or 5 feet away from the projected image, it looks quite good
  • You can customize the slideshow settings for your photos: you can select transition time, automatic motion, transition effects, looping, etc

So that about covers the review and the specs of the GPQ Joybee Mini-Projector, but why would a photographer have a projector in his/her camera bag?


BenQ Gp1 Joybee Mini-Projector




Projector for Photographers?

As you know, we don’t take photographs for the sole purpose of taking the photograph (though that’s half the fun!). More often than not we take photographs in order to capture a moment in time and share it with others. This is where the projector comes in. Whether you’re a pro or you just take photos for fun, there are almost always times where you’ll have friends or family or clients crowded around your laptop, or even the LCD screen on the back of your camera, looking at your photographs. With a handy mini-projector like the BenQ GP1, you dump the photos to a USB stick, and you’ve got a huge display that dozens (if not hundreds) of people can watch and enjoy.

Imagine working a wedding, and during the reception you set up the projector to rotate through a bunch of photos you took during the ceremony. Imagine working any sort of event where you’re selling photos - by projecting some of your images up on a wall, you’ll get more attention, and that will result in more photo sales. And, of course, we all do some photography for pleasure. There’s no easier way to show your photographs to friends and family than to simply project them up on a wall. It’s so much easier than carrying around your laptop, or than having to burn a DVD or CD of your photographs (plus it’s WAY cooler to pull out a projector - there’s just something uber-cool about projecting your work on a big screen).


Conclusion

Looking at the BenQ GP1 Joybee Mini-Projector from a technology standpoint, it’s pretty cool. It’s super small, and for its size and price, it projects a really decent image. It’s not high-end, home-theatre quality, especially the speaker, but that’s not really what it’s meant for. When they release the iPod dock, it may be just perfect for a personal or SOHO projector. For the professional photographer, the BenQ GP1 is a sure-fire way to draw some more attention to your photographs in whatever situation you find yourself in, and with an MSRP of $500, it’ll pay for itself after a couple of uses. For the amateur photographer, if you can justify spending $500 on a non-essential piece of equipment, you’ll be the coolest amateur photographer in your camera club - who else can project their images 80” large, with a piece of equipment that easily fits in your camera bag?

While I haven’t had a chance to use some of the other mini-projectors in the same class as the GP1, I’ve used many high-end projectors, and for the price and specs, the BenQ GP1 Joybee Mini-Projector is a winner all around. For $500, the amateur photographer can obtain that “cool factor,” and the professional photographer can have the “attention magnet” that will bring in more sales and clients. If you’re an amateur photographer and can afford it, it’s a cool addition to your camera bag. If you’re a professional photographer, it will easily pay for itself after a couple of events and will help pad your wallet and your client base.

My rating is 4/5 cameras.