We have slowly transitioned to consuming multimedia on our handheld devices. But every now and then, we wish for a bigger screen especially when watching with friends. With the BenQ GV1, you get just that. But is it the all-round solution that you need?
Build and I/O
BenQ’s GV1 has a particularly nice build. The cylindrical look is apt for a projector like this and with its size and weight, it is easy to carry in a backpack. Out of the box, the carry case for the projector is also a huge plus point. If you want to place the projector permanently in a room, it also comes with a screw mount on the bottom.
The sides of the projector are bare, aside from a focus knob. This allows you to adjust the projector’s focus point, which is not easy to find. You often need to move the knob back and forth a few times before you find that the projector’s image is in focus.
All around the projector are perforations that are for cooling but also double as speakers. The top portion of the projector offers a 15-degree tilt, which allows you to adjust the orientation of the projector depending on preference. Because the GV1 is targeted for wireless use, there’s only a USB type-C port and a power port on the device.
The resolution of the BenQ GV1 is rated at 854 x 480 pixels but it’s capable of 1,920 x 1,080p output too at smaller distances. Therefore multimedia does not look the sharpest when being viewed. You also need to ensure that there is enough darkness around with the projector only having a 200 lumen brightness, which is even lower when the projector is not connected to the mains. At up to 100 inches, there is a visible deterioration in quality. However, it is nice to see that the projector comes with auto-keystone functionality, whereby the image is automatically adjusted for optimal viewing.
When it comes to consumption itself, it is a passable experience. Watching videos and movies on the big screen has a different wow factor. But using the projector without a wired connection comes with latency issues. Unfortunately, using the included USB-C to USB-C cable for a wired connection is also not possible without DisplayPort support. In this instance, BenQ could have bundled a Type-C USB to HDMI 2.0 out cable in the box to support a much larger proportion of computers.
As far as wireless casting from mobile devices goes, the experience is substandard. While the device does show up on a laptop, it is not picked up by any of the smartphones we have tested. Having updated the device on its latest firmware and with pairing mode on, we were still unsuccessful.
But Wi-Fi is not the only way you can connect with the GV1. A dedicated Bluetooth mode helps you save battery life and only play music. This effectively turns the device into a portable speaker. And aside from distortion at extremely loud volumes, the speaker quality is good.
The unique aspect about BenQ’s GV1 is that it is powered like an Android device. It is equipped with Android 7.1.2 and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 210 processor. The software experience is intuitive, especially with wireless control via the remote provided out of the box. But here too, there is a hint of lag every now and then with the 1GB of RAM being a bottleneck.
But this allows the device to take advantage of external applications. It comes with a dedicated application store called Aptitode, which has basics like YouTube, Twitch and Netflix among many others. You can even download games like any other Android device. This makes up slightly for the problems encountered when casting from your smartphone but again, the applications you download do not perform optimally, with hints of stutter and lag.
BenQ claims up to three hours of battery life for the GV1. And for the most part, around 2-3 hours is what I got. This is good enough for watching a movie before you have to charge it. On standby, the battery backup is also pretty good. However, if you plan on binge-watching a long series, just have the projector plugged in.
With the projector retailing for over Dh1,000, it is a hard buy. While it offers a great deal of functionality, much of it is plagued with issues. We think if you really need a portable projector, something like the Asus ZenBeam E1 is a more ideal choice. And for that reason, the BenQ GV1 is not a firm recommendation.