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BenQ Joybee GP1 review

Verdict:

The low price and amazing portability of the GP1 make it the best mini projector to date, but it's still far from perfect.

Review Date: 20 Oct 2009

Price when reviewed: £402

Supplier: http://www.misco.co.uk

Reviewed By: Barry de la Rosa

Our Rating 4 stars out of 5

BenQ's Joybee GP1 is tiny - it literally fits in your hand - and weighs just 640g. This DLP projector achieves this feat by replacing the usual lamp and colour wheel with coloured LEDs.

We've seen similar mini projectors before, such as Dell's M109S and LG's HS102, with the GP1 being similar to the latter. It's not as bright, but is smaller and lighter. Just as importantly, it has a smaller and lighter power supply, too. It's also about £100 cheaper. The GP1's fixed zoom ratio projects a 65in image at a range of 10ft, down to a 12?in image at 2ft.

As far as connections go, there's a proprietary port with a breakout cable supporting VGA, composite and stereo audio inputs. The GP1 has a native resolution of only 858x600 pixels, but it can accept an input resolution of up to 1,280x1,024. Such downscaling reduces image quality considerably, though - text became fuzzy and we lost most of the fine detail in pictures and movies - so you're better off limiting yourself to 800x600. It's also tricky to get an even focus across the whole image. Still, it does have wall colour and auto-keystone correction, which helps you set up quickly.

The GP1 contains a media player that can play movies straight from USB mass storage devices, but it's limited to MPEG1 and MJPEG formats. While there's a copy of ArcSoft MediaConverter 3 in the box, converting to these older formats is tedious and often produces files larger than the originals. As well as the USB input, there's a 3.5mm audio output that bypasses the 2W mono speaker.

Touch-sensitive controls on top of the GP1 let you navigate the comprehensive menu system, and these are duplicated on the credit-card-sized remote, which also has controls for the USB media player. Sadly, these lack feedback, making them fiddly to use, and the remote doesn't have backlit buttons either.

Picture quality falls far below that of a standard DLP projector, with images lacking both brightness and contrast, while turning up the brightness quickly results in a washed-out image. We preferred the Photo preset, which had the most accurate colours, but we still felt the image was too dark. Presentations look acceptable on the GP1, though you'll need a darkened room. Its colours seemed a bit artificial, and blues were hard to pin down, which might affect graphs.

Despite its fussy image controls and colours, we liked the GP1. It's ideal for travelling business people who don't rely on fine detail in their presentations, and with its optional iPod dock it's great for presenting short video clips, too. The GP1 is around £100 cheaper than the HS102 and it's more portable, but its poor colour accuracy and the media player's lack of format support both hold it back from a higher score.

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