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BenQ GP1

Good things. Small packages. You know the rest. BenQ’s latest mini LED (Light Emitting Diodes) projector is diminutive, lamp-less, and costs from just £383/$690. The 640g projector is also compatible with most mass storage devices, including phones, cameras and PDAs, making it a multi-talented gadget. Forget the GP1’s measurements (136×54x120mm), this mobile presentation device can deliver images up to 80 inches in 4:3 native format – with 16:9 as a selectable option – and has a 2W speaker and headphone jack, making it terrific for around the home.

Mini LED technology
The headline news from CES this year was all about pico projectors – 10 lumen-class projectors that can act as standalone projectors or can be embedded into mobile phones, PMPs and other CE devices. But behind the scenes, the next wave of projection products started to poke their little heads. LED-based ultraportable projectors with over 1000 ANSI lumens of light output are starting to enter the market at competitive prices. This is big news as it means this class of projector can compete in the mainstream ultraportable projector market where lamp-based projectors now dominate.

Solid-state LED offers advantages over lamp products including better colour gamut (reds, greens and blues are pulsed directly to the optics without going through the spinning and chopping of a regular projector’s colour wheel), much longer lifetime (up to 60,000-hour lifespan with no LED replacement compared to the 2000 or so hours of viewing you may get out of today’s projectors), instant on, ruggedness, lower power consumption and the possibility to create real battery-powered projectors. So far, we have seen 50-lumen models (Dell), 100-lumen models (Acer), and 150-lumen models (Samsung and LG). 200-lumen models will follow soon. For example, Innoswell has reached 180 lumens using LEDs from Luminus Devices and 3LCD panels. Plus, the number of products and suppliers will increase.

Features
Housed in a cool-looking glossy white enclosure with an eye-catching black top, BenQ’s GP1 isn’t about boring corporate presentations. The palm-sized projector is designed to keep you entertained wherever you go. All you have to do is plug it into the supplied power brick, hook up your personal media device, and this mini projector delivers impressive images up to 80 inches in size at a native resolution of 858×600 (720p HD video without interpolation supported), 100 ANSI lumens and 2000:1 contrast ratio. Unlike some smaller pico models there’s no battery power option with the GP1, which is a real shame in terms of portability.

The GP1 is powered by BenQ’s latest 3LED Technology, which utilises RGB LEDs as the projection light source instead of traditional projection lamps. Now you can enjoy vivid picture quality without worrying about issues such as decrease in brightness, colour fading, or lamp replacements. The unit isn’t the most versatile in terms of connections. It includes – via the CEA 30-pin adapter – D-Sub, composite and USB inputs, along with PC audio output. Sadly there are no DVI, component or HDMI connections, nor are there any memory card slots.

A detachable iPod/iPhone docking station is available as an optional extra (around £10), but Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Ethernet are noticeably missing. What the GP1 lacks in terms of connectivity it makes up for in ease of use. It has auto play modes, auto keystone, auto search, and wall colour correction, making setting up the projector a breeze without the need for a PC. The 15-80-inch image in 4:3 native format (16:9 selectable) is adjustable with digital zoom and preset picture PC and A/V modes.

Compared to the average 55-80% NTSC of most projectors, the GP1 noticeably performs with bold, deeply saturated hues across a broad colour gamut. Black levels are also faithfully reproduced thanks to DLP, but details in dark areas can get a little lost. 100 ANSI lumens won’t set the world ablaze, and it means the projector struggles with a bright room, but then so do many larger models. In a subdued or dark room, the GP1 is probably good enough. One significant feature absent from the GP1 is a zoom. To make the image larger or small you have to physically move the projector, which may require a tripod.

Conclusion
BenQ’s GP1 is a joy to use. It is compact and light, and setting it up takes only a few seconds using either the on-board controls or the supplied remote control. Designed for the home – the GP1’s brightness levels just aren’t good enough for presenting in the daytime – the projector displays a crisp image that contradicts its compact dimensions. It even comes with its own carrying case and a 2GB USB flash drive. And with a 20,000-hour rated lamp life it’s easier on the pocket compared to a regular projector. At 60W power consumption, the same amount of power in a well-lit room, the projector is also easy on your electricity bill. If you’re after a tiny projector that’s well equipped and performs suitably well without breaking the bank, the GP1 is a good choice.

Reviewed by Christian Harris

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Christian Harris is editor and publisher of BCW. Christian has over 20 years’ publishing experience and in that time has contributed to most major IT magazines and Web sites in the UK. He launched BCW in 2009 as he felt there was a need for honest and personal commentary on a wide range of business computing issues. Christian has a BA (Hons) in Publishing from the London College of Communication.