BenQ Joybee GP2 WXGA DLP Projector
  • Performance
  • 4.5
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
Price
$699 MSRP Discontinued

The relatively new class of mini-projectors (~200-300 lumen output) has always lacked something that their smaller relatives, the pico projectors, have offered as a standard feature: battery operation. While the new BenQ Joybee GP2 mini doesn't supply a battery as a standard feature, for the first time it is available as an option. And since there is a little more real estate to play with in a mini-projector, the GP2 battery is no slouch with its operational range of 1 or 3 hours depending on the GP2's brightness setting (200 or 100 lumens, respectively).

Another first is the embedded Apple docking connector on the top of the GP2. It accepts Apple iPods (Touch and Nano) and 3GS/4 iPhones. Just slide your iPod or iPhone onto the connector, and your Apple device sits at a comfortable angle for making selections. As an added convenience, the GP2 has a complete set of Apple device control keys on its remote control.

At 200 ANSI lumens with a native 1280x800 DLP chip and a street price of under $550, the 1 ¼ pound Joybee GP2 has a broader mix of features than any of its competitors. It is a versatile projector that serves both small business meetings and personal entertainment activities.

The Viewing Experience

When you first open the box, the GP2 may not knock you over with its styling. It is basically square from every viewing angle, and since it flares slightly outward as it rises from its base, it is a non-traditional design to say the least. But that impression quickly fades when you see how many devices the GP2 can accommodate.

Since it uses LEDs for illumination, the GP2 fires up quickly and presents its home screen where various sources can be selected for viewing. There is no source selection key on the remote control, so when a source change is needed, the home screen is the only place to do so. Fortunately, the GP2's menu system is intuitive and well defined, so this minor inconvenience is soon forgotten.

Ambient light is an issue for any 200-lumen projector, and the GP2 is no exception. In a normally lit room, keeping the image size down to about a 50" diagonal assures a bright enough image for a small group. But if you can control ambient light, you can take advantage of the GP2's relatively short throw and put up an 80" image from just eight feet away.

Once the GP2 is up and running, you will find the image quality excellent for data presentations with good saturation and crispness. Video images in the preset modes are not quite spot on, but going to User mode solves that limitation by increasing contrast and decreasing brightness. One of four color temperatures can be selected to complete the image tuning. With those adjustments made, the video image is very good with excellent flesh tones, well-defined highlights, and good black levels though slightly muddy shadow rendering.

Another impressive item is the GP2s's low fan noise. It is much quieter that its competitors, and with its pair of 2-watt speakers cranked up, you will be almost unaware of the fan noise. If you are sensitive to the fan noise, you can always switch to Eco mode where the fan noise is nearly undetectable with any modest audio content.

Key Features

Connectivity - Virtually all pico and mini-projectors use small connectors to save precious space. The GP2 follows suit and supplies adapters and cables that expand to full-size connectors. Its mini-sized connectors are located on the right side of the projector, and adapters and cables are supplied that provide full-sized VGA, HDMI digital, composite video, and USB connections. There is also an SD connector on the rear of the projector. Note that the adapter cables are short (typically 15"), so you will have to keep the GP2 close to its source unless you want to carry additional longer cables.

Optional Battery Operation - Even though the battery is an extra cost option ($99), its purchase may be worth it if you do not want the clutter of a power brick and cable. The battery snaps onto the bottom of the GP2 and roughly doubles the size and weight of the projector. The battery automatically charges whenever the power brick is plugged into the GP2. Full charging time is a hefty three hours, but for the convenience of power cable free operation, it may be worth the wait.

File Transfers and Internal Memory Windows users can utilize the GP2's file streaming capability to transfer files from a PC to the projector's internal memory. Once a driver is loaded into the computer and a USB connection is made, data, video, and audio files may be transferred to the 1.3 GB internal memory and replayed later without the computer connected.

Apple Compatibility Several projectors in its class can interface via cables to Apple iPods and iPhones, but the GP2's built-in Apple docking connector makes it extremely easy. It is really a case of plug-and-play, and the playback keys on the remote control prevent disturbing the projector to make selections of tracks or control play/pause functions on the iPhone or iPod itself. An added benefit is that the dock charges the Apple devices connected to it.

Presets - The GP2 has four preset modes (Bright, Standard, Cinema, and Game) and one User mode. The presets look good for data presentations, but they need a little tweaking for video content. Fortunately, there is a User mode where image adjustments can be made, and a few minutes of work with contrast, brightness, and color temperature settings is worthwhile.

Menu Selection and Navigation- Some small projectors come with no remote control and force you to make selections on a built-in control panel. The GP2 supplies a remote that makes adjustments a breeze. There is a built-in touch-sensitive control panel on top of the GP2 in case you misplace the remote, but with the remote in hand, there is no need to deal with the control panel. In fact, the controls on top of the projector are very sensitive, so care must be taken not to make an inadvertent selection.

The Home menu lets you select the source you desire and it also has a Settings option for projector adjustments such as Eco mode, auto keystone correction, etc. Sources that can be selected from the Home screen include: Computer, Composite Video, HDMI, USB (thumb drive or PC streaming mode), SD card, iPhone/iPad, and Internal Memory. This is as complete a source selection as we have seen on a projector in this class.

The remote has two sets of keys: the upper set for projector and menu selections, and the lower set for iPhone/iPod control. The icons are distinct and clearly marked, but be aware that the remote is about the size of a credit card, and it can inadvertently wander away in someone's pocket. Minimal layering makes menu navigation very easy.

Performance

Brightness and Uniformity -The GP2 is not the brightest projector in the mini class, but it is one of the few that meets its published brightness specification. In Bright mode, the GP2 put up 195 lumens, and the other presets performed as follows: Standard and Game - 145 lumens, Cinema - 130 lumens. Eco mode dropped brightness by 35%, but fan noise only dropped a little, so you might as well operate at full brightness unless you are trying to get the longest performance out of the optional battery.

Brightness uniformity was a stellar 86%, and there was no focus softness in the corners of the image. With a mostly white image, there was a slight background color variation (green to red) across the image from left to right, but it was unnoticeable in most circumstances.

Image Size and Offset - The GP2 has a throw ratio that puts up large images from relatively short distances from the screen. For example, in a small meeting room, the GP2 can put up a 50" diagonal from just five feet away. The centerline of the lens is aligned with the bottom of the image, so a tabletop mounting works well in this example.

Lamp Life - "Lamp life" is a misnomer since the GP2 utilizes LEDs for illumination of the DLP chip. Still, it is likely that the GP2 will be in the trash heap long before the LEDs reach their useful life of 20,000 hours (30,000 hours in Eco mode). Keep in mind that if the LEDs do fail for some reason, the projector must be returned to a dealer or the factory for repair or replacement.

Quick On/Off - LEDs have replaced the traditional mercury vapor lamp in the GP2, so there is no need for lamp warm-up and cool-down. About 10 seconds after you switch the GP2 on, you have a full brightness image, and shutdown is instantaneous.

Limitations

Audio Quality - Though 4 watts total is a higher output level than most of its competitors, the GP2's audio performance left something to be desired. At about half volume, the bass response got muddy and at slightly more volume, the treble response fell off and developed a bit of a buzz.

No Mac File Transfers - The GP2's file transfer function only works for certain Windows environments, so if you are a Mac user, you will not be able to access the GP2's internal memory.

Conclusion

The Joybee GP2 raises the bar in the mini-projector category with optional battery operation, a broad range of source connections, and Apple iPhone/iPod docking. It also has an ample internal memory for many applications. It is not the brightest or least expensive mini-projector, but it does redefine the word "versatility" in its class.

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our BenQ Joybee GP2 projector page.

Comments (4) Post a Comment
Stoly Posted May 1, 2012 8:34 PM PST
I noticed the joybee can do 120hz.

Does that make it 3d compatible?

Also I was considering getting a MW-512. Other than the obvious lumen output, how would both compare?
Bob Posted May 2, 2012 3:47 PM PST
The big differences are how easy it is to connect my iPhone and the short throw. My iPhone just drops in and works. With the battery it fits in my travel bag and doesn't cause a problem in security. The short throw makes it easy to watch a iTunes TV show on a hotel room wall right from my phone sitting on the table. The other thing I like is to preload a presentation into the projector and use it without a laptop. Both of those are hard to do with a traditional projector. [Note: this was written by a BenQ employee]
Guy Posted May 4, 2012 10:23 PM PST
I returned this projector for missing software features.

1) No ceiling mode. Even the instruction manual says to mount on the ceiling, it must be mounted upside down. Guess what, the image is also upside down.

2) No zoom. The short throw makes this impractical to place at the back of the room. The projected image is bigger than the wall, and you can't shrink it.

Essentially this projector is made for projecting from a table.
jill Posted Jun 25, 2013 9:30 AM PST
i love this little projector. the only problem i am having is the sound. NOT the built in speakers, but the audio out jack. i cant get it loud enough to do an outdoor movie with even a small crowd of friends. i have a 200 watt amplified speaker (that blasts my ipod, radio and other devices) but when i hook up this projector, the volume is wimpy. i've tried different movies to rule out the movie. i tried both a new bluray player and my iphone and ipod, and same results.

But when i watched a movie via iphone on gp2, BUT HOOKED THE AUDIO DIRECTLY TO SPEAKERS from iphone, the result was big big sound.

i don't get it.

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