The cute-looking BenQ Joybee GP1 looks like a shrunken down version of a traditional projector. It doesn't quite hit the handheld territory of the pico models we've reviewed lately, but weighs a mere 640g. Updated, 11 April 2011

The BenQ Joybee GP1 can be tripod mounted or placed on a desk or shelf, and includes adjustable feet to get your image just right. It didn't quite provide the display size of the other projectors in our test, but offered an adequate 70in, tweaked with the analogue focus control that was a little fiddly but did the job.

At 100 ANSI lumens the BenQ Joybee GP1 projector didn't fare too badly in our daylight conditions, but it's more of a lights-off than a lights-on kind of device. Atop the projector sits a set of touch buttons that illuminate for easy viewing, but are hit-and-miss in terms of sensitivity. The main menu is also a little tricky to navigate at first.

With a VGA and composite input cable, as well as a USB slot and reader, the Joybee GP1 can handle a range of media and provides the best speaker of all the projectors on test, catering for very loud sounds without distortion. A separate iPod dock connector is also available to widen your connection opportunities, but was not provided with our sample.

Some of our videos refused to play on the BenQ Joybee GP1 via USB, claiming a lack of compatibility, so we had to resort to the VGA connection to play them from a computer, negating some of the device's portable traits. Sadly, the BenQ doesn't include a built-in battery either, further limiting its portability. The supplied power brick and cable, while a decent length, are pretty hefty and don't fit in the provided case.

Automatic keystone adjustment is very impressive on the BenQ Joybee GP1, immediately catering for odd angles, and you can also set the colour of the wall you are projecting to so the image can be adjusted accordingly - both very handy touches.

Projector reviews

BenQ Joybee GP1: A micro rather than pico projector

Part of BenQ's Joybee range of portable products, the GP1 is more of a micro than a pico projector - although the official name for the format is 'palm projector'

Unlike the smaller models, there's no battery power option with the BenQ Joybee GP1. This unit is mains only, and is powered by a hefty brick. So some of the more social applications of the pico units, such as displaying your video wares at parties, restaurants and trade shows, just aren't going to be practical.

On the plus side, it puts out 100 ANSI lumens, which makes it far brighter than the truly pocket-sized alternatives. It also makes it possible to double the displayed image size - 1.5m to 2m is a very practical image width, making this a realistic choice for business use.

With a native resolution of 858x600, the BenQ Joybee GP1 can show 720p HD video without interpolation. As with other professional models, there are panel buttons and a remote for setting up and controlling the unit. You'll need this, because there are two input sources. For live projection there's a CEA30 socket. Since you probably don't have a CEA30 video source this comes with an adaptor, which offers a set of combined VGA D-sub, composite and audio connectors at the business end.

You can also buy an optional docking cradle for use with an iPhone or iPod. For pre-recorded video playback, there's a USB socket too. Load up a standard USB memory stick with the content of your choice, plug it in here, and you're ready to display it to the world - although it would have been good to see a memory card option too.

Even with just 100 ANSI lumens the projector is completely convincing in overcast daylight, and looks very good indeed in subdued light. It struggles with ambient sunlight, but then so do many larger professional models.

Next page: Our expert verdict >>

BenQ Joybee GP1: Specs

  • VGA (858 x 600) native resolution
  • VGA (640 x 480) to SXGA (1280 x 1024) supported
  • 100 ANSI lumens
  • 2000:1 contrast ratio
  • Analog RGB: D-sub 15 pin x 1 (through CEA 30pin)
  • Component Video: D-sub 15 pin x 1 (through CEA 30pin / shared with Analog RGB)
  • Composite Video: RCA x 1 (through CEA 30pin)
  • USB Reader: USB Type A L/R Audio: RCA x 1 (through CEA 30pin)
  • 0.64 kg
  • 54 x 136 x 120 mm
  • VGA (858 x 600) native resolution
  • VGA (640 x 480) to SXGA (1280 x 1024) supported
  • 100 ANSI lumens
  • 2000:1 contrast ratio
  • Analog RGB: D-sub 15 pin x 1 (through CEA 30pin)
  • Component Video: D-sub 15 pin x 1 (through CEA 30pin / shared with Analog RGB)
  • Composite Video: RCA x 1 (through CEA 30pin)
  • USB Reader: USB Type A L/R Audio: RCA x 1 (through CEA 30pin)
  • 0.64 kg
  • 54 x 136 x 120 mm

OUR VERDICT

Ultimately, the Joybee GP1 aims to be a personal, portable projector and its LED projection does look great at close quarters. For the price, however, it simply doesn't match up to the performance of smaller models we've tested.

Find the best price