It can be officially said that pico projectors have landed, and from the looks of things, they are here to stay, at least in the foreseeable future. There are several projectors in the market featuring this small form factor, but there is nothing that really can differentiate one from the other besides the slight design change and the branding. In the past we have seen the 3M 180, which had a different form factor and came with features, such as Wi-Fi as well as a screen allowing one to access the various options. BenQ, a major player in the projector segment, is addressing the competition by adding a unique feature to their recently unveiled pico projector, the Joybee GP2. The brand has added an iPod dock in this pocket projector and in the process giving it a unique selling proposition.

Overall glossy exterior

Overall glossy exterior

Design and Build Quality
When it comes to the design of the BenQ Joybee GP2, the projector can really stand out. It has a squarish design and covered in an all gloss finish. The design of this projector is good because it features a white body overall and only the top panel is finished in black. Due to the highly glossy surface, fingerprints can be easily visible on the black surface. This may take away the look of the device. An area of the projector, at the top features a textured design, which also adds to the style factor of the tablet.

The connectivity options are one of the main features of the projector, as it is absolutely littered with ports. The connectivity options located here include ports for USB, mini USB, PC/AV, mini HDMI, audio in, an SD card slot, a 3.5mm jack and of course the main feature of this projector, the iPod dock. Unlike most projectors where the ports are located at the rear, BenQ has fitted most of the options at the side apart from the SD card slot, which is located at the rear and the iPod dock, which is at the top.

Lamp located at the front

Lamp located at the front

The lamp of this DLP projector is featured at the front, while the focus ring is fitted at the side. The only issue we had with the projector when it comes to the way it is built is the quality of this focus ring. It feels rather cheap in comparison to the rest of the body. Vents are located on three sides of the projector and these help in its cooling. The controls for this projector are neat, too as the brand have added all touch sensitive buttons for navigating through the interface. Overall, the projector is designed well and featuring a minimalistic look, it can really complement any home. Another thing going for it is its size as it is light and can be easily carried around in the pouch that came along with the bundled up accessories. One can also add a the supplied cables in this bag as well for convenience and easy portability.

Features
The BenQ Joybee GP2 is loaded with neat features that can leave the competition biting dust. On paper, the projector features such a wide range of features, that one may feel that it is a full sized projector and not a palm sized one. The iPod dock that is featured on the top is the chief feature here and with this addition, very few projectors can match up to it in terms of specs. Though it features an iPod dock, which is a unique feature, this trait is not reserved to this model alone. There are only a few other pocket projectors in the market that feature this option and with this model, it is BenQ’s way of addressing this niche segment of pico projectors.

This projector is based on Texas Instruments’ DLP technology and by adding this technology one can expect smoother images and better ANSI contrast levels. This LED-based projector features a native WXGA resolution of 1280 x 800, while the maximum resolution supported is 1600 x 1200. The brand rates the brightness levels of the projector at 200 ANSI lumens and a contrast of 2400:1. The native aspect ratio featured here is 16:10, but one has the option to switch it to the conventional 16:9 aspect ratio that is used while watching HD movies. Since the projector uses LED technology, one can expect a lamp life of up to 30,000 hours. This will be significantly longer than the life of the projector as well.Connectors are featured at the side

Connectors are featured at the side

Like most pico projectors, there is no complicated set up process whatsoever. All one needs to do is connect an iPod, or any other storage drive, like an SD card, USB drive or connect it to a PC or Blu-ray player using the required cables with the ports. The interface is well designed and one can easily navigate through the menu without any hassles by using the remote control or the touch sensitive buttons.

The projector is compatible with resolutions up to 1080p when paired with a Blu-ray player. Though it does not output at this resolution, it does accept video inputs at full HD resolutions. It can support a variety of video containers, including AVI , MOV , MP4, FLV as well as MKV. The projector can also read a range of audio files, such as MP3, MP2, APE, FLAC, OGG, WAV and m4a. This allows one to listen to music on the two 2W speakers as well if not using the projector for viewing presentations or watching videos.

Performance
The performance was tested using a Blu-ray player, iPhone, iPod and PC. To start off this segment, the remote control performed well. However, one needs to point it at the sensor for the projector to respond. The projector does not get too hot, which is a good thing and the fan located inside does well to keep the projector's temperature in check. The Joybee GP2 does, however emit an odour when it is left on for too long, this may affect those who are sitting to close to it.

iPod dock on the top

iPod dock on the top

DisplayMate
While running the DisplayMate test, we noticed that for a pico projector, the brightness levels are good and greys and whites rendered well. Text is pronounced at the middle and bottom of the display, but at the top, the words start to smudge. In the intensity range check, we noticed that there was a slight cream tinge to the brightest white. Other than that the whites and greys rendered accurately. The blackness levels of the projector are not really good and the first five dark grey blocks could not be seen. Natural colours appeared a bit deep and  not accurate. Pink, by far wass the worst, with it appearing purple. The seams between the bars were not defined as well. In the pixel tracking test, we noticed that the projector could not render complex patterns. In the reverse video contrast check, we observed that greens appeared vibrant, while all the other colours looked dull. In the colour intensity range test, we observed that there was no colour bleeding visible and the seams in all the colour bars were visible.

Blu-ray playback
We connected our in house Philips Blu-ray player to the projector using a mini HDMI to HDMI cable and we ran our test disc. We observed that in ambient lighting the images can be made out, but only just about. Unlike some of the full sized projectors available in the market, this projector cannot be used to watch videos with dim lights on. The brightness levels are really good as compared to other pico projectors and we found that the overall performance was good, too. Rainbow effect that is a common flaw found on pico projectors was not visible to a very large extent with this model. Skin tones appear natural and all colours rendered well.

Touch sensitive controls at the top

Touch sensitive controls at the top

iPod Playback
Setting up the iPod to the GP2 is extremely easy and all one needs to do is lay it on the cradle. The video quality is as good as the Blu-ray playback and there were no issues faced. We found the sound levels of the speaker to be good, too and in a small to mid-sized room, it can be sufficient. However, one would want to pair it with an additional speaker set using an amplifier to get the most out of a home theatre system feel, which the GP2 aims to give.

USB Playback
We connected a 500GB NTFS drive to the GP2 and were pleased with the overall performance. The interface for the USB drive loaded quickly and there was no lag noticed. While scrolling through the different files, the GP2 responded well and it was very fluid overall. MKV files loaded quickly and the video quality was really good. As was the case with the playback of Blu-ray and iPod, skin tones appear natural and colours displayed well.

Unique USP for a pocket projector

Unique USP for a pocket projector

Verdict
The BenQ Joybee GP2 is priced in India at a MRP of INR39,167. This projector delivers a solid performance when placed in a dark room, when compared to other standard projectors. However, this was designed to be a portable projector and not a standard one. The feature list of it is extensive as one can connect virtually any form of external storage to it. This can be a great solution for those who travel often and need to display presentations or documents. The only thing lacking here is that it does not have an inbuilt battery. One would have to purchase it separately as an after market accessory, which would increase the cost factor to a greater extent. If one is looking out for a pico projector that features an iPod dock, then this surely should be on the list of options worth considering.

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