BenQ has a large portfolio of projectors for users to choose from. Be it a state of the art, high-end projector for the home theatre enthusiast or those looking to tread the affordable 4K projector space, BenQ has a bunch of options to choose from. However, what we have today is a portable projector from BenQ. The device has a compact form factor, a 720p resolution and is IPX2 splashproof for outdoor use. Is this a good option for those looking to carry their entertainment on the go? Read on to find out.
Weight: 1.6 Kgs
Display resolution: 1280 x 720p
Brightness: 500 Lumens
Screen Size: 30 to 100 inches (100-inches from approximately 9 feet)
Input: HDMI, USB-C and USB Type-A.
Audio Out: 3.5mm
Built-in speakers: 2 X 2W
Built-in battery life: up to 3 hours (company claims)
Wireless casting from a phone: Yes
Price: Rs. 59,990
Starting with the build and design, while the projector is small, it isn't the smallest we’ve seen. It won't fit in your pocket and comes with a nice travelling bag to house the projector and its accessories. The projector is extremely well built and can withstand a drop of 0.5M. While we wouldn't recommend testing it, it's nice to know that the device can withstand the occasional accidental drop. It is also IPX2 splashproof so if you are using this on an outdoor picnic, you have some time to pack it up if it starts raining.
Speaking of the build, the projector has a unibody structure and a soft rubber finish all around. The rubber finish is smooth to the touch and does not have any texture. I wish it had a texture at least on the sides to help with gripping the device, but that's just me. You may prefer the smooth finish all around. The lens is in a protective housing in the front.
The base of the projector has a stand that can tilt the device up to 15 degrees and it also has a port where you can mount the projector onto a tripod. The top of the projector has the power button, LED indicators for the battery level, IR receiver, directional buttons and an OK button along with back, home and menu buttons. The buttons are nice and clicky and seamlessly blend into the design of the projector. The buttons are quite responsive, although there were occasions where they didn’t register an input. These were far and few but consistent enough to warrant a mention. The back of the device has an exhaust vent and two 2W speakers.
Speaking of the connectivity options, all the ports are neatly hidden under a flap on the left side of the projector. There is a slot for the wireless dongle, a 3.5mm port, HDMI port (HDCP1.4), USB-C port for an external display and a USB Type-A port. The USB Type-A port provides power to a device like the Fire TV stick (more on this in the performance section). While the device is IPX2 splashproof, the fact that the port flap is loft open when external devices are connected can be an Achilles heel for the device in outdoor use, in case it starts raining.
Last but not least we have the power port which is at the back below the exhaust vents. The power port is magnetic just like Apple’s MagSafe port on the older MacBook Airs. This is good as some accidental walks across the power line will not send the projector into a spiral.
Overall, the projector is very well built. Looking at it from the side, it reminds me of a good old CRT TV. The travelling bag it comes with has enough room to store a Fire TV Stick along with the device and the compartments in the carrying case are nice for space management and accessories.
The BenQ GS2 comes with a remote control that is compact and houses all the essential functions. You have the power button and the ‘focus’ button up top. Quickly accessing the focus is a convenient addition. If you move the projector and need to check the focus, you can do so without delving into the projector's settings. You also have the standard directional buttons, back, home, menu and volume controls for the projector. The remote is simple and ergonomic. The only downside is that you need to point it at the IR receiver of the projector for it to work.
To test the projector, we hooked up a Fire TV stick to the device. Since the projector can output at 720p, the Fire TV Stick Lite (review) should get the job done, but we have the 4K Fire TV Stick on hand and used that on this device. Since portability is a USP of the device, we used the USB port to see how long the device would last while juicing the Fire TV Stick. In our test, the battery lasted a little over 3 hours with the picture preset set to 'Cinema' and the 'Light Mode' set to 'Battery Mode'.
We ran a bunch of content on the device from different streaming services. The short answer is that the projector doesn't stand toe to toe with its larger home theatre brethren, which is obvious. But what it offers is a compelling performance for those looking for a projector on the go with some small caveats.
To begin with, the ideal size for the screen is under 50-inches. The sweet spot is 40 to 45-inches. Beyond that, you will be able to make out the jagged edges in content more prominently. Going larger has two disadvantages. The first is that the room needs to be pitch dark to enjoy content and the second is that 720p resolution is not meant to be experienced on 100-inches. At about 45-inches, you can get away with some bias lighting in the room and still enjoy the content on the screen.
The projector gives you a bunch of picture settings to choose from such as Bright, Vivid TV, Cinema, Camp Fire, Bed Time, Sports and User. While the Camp Fire preset, as the name suggests, allows for some bias lighting, those that want to enjoy good colour reproduction in the dark will stick to the Cinema preset. The Vivid preset elevates the brightness to 100% elevating the black levels and giving a lacklustre experience for the content that has details in shadows. The Cinema preset has good colours overall, but there is a loss of details in dark sequences. So, for example, if a character is wearing a black suit with some textured details on it, those details will be lost, along with any shadow details. However, the colours of the preset look good. So overall, considering what's on offer, the content has an enjoyable experience.
Switching between picture presets takes a minute and is not as snappy as say on your Smart TV. You also have the option to control the Colour Temperature with Norma, Warm and Cool being the three presets. I recommend leaving it on Normal or Warm based on the content you are consuming.
A good thing is that there is a picture preset for almost every condition you consume content in, be it outdoors, indoors or in either case with some lighting.
Considering the portability of the projector we hooked a portable gaming console - the Nintendo Switch to it. The gaming experience on the TV is acceptable. While the Switch is quite capable as a portable gaming device, those looking for a large screen experience can hook it up to this projector. One tip, if the image looks blurry, press the button next to the power button on the remote control (the autofocus button) and move the projector slightly back or forth. Once you see the crisp BenQ logo, you should be good to go. This is something we noticed when the in-game text wasn’t easily readable and checking the focus brought the text right back into focus.
There is also some input lag when gaming on this projector, but nothing that will hamper a fun evening of Mario Kart or Immortals Fenix Rising (review).
When it comes to audio, the projector has two 2W speakers, and their output is average. During a movie don't expect to hear the bangs and swishes in detail. If you watch a show like Young Sheldon or Our Planet, you can hear the conversations and voice narration quite clearly. But in a large open space, don't expect the projector to have immersive sound. For the most part, we connected a pair of Bluetooth headphones to the Fire TV Stick and that got the job done quite well. We’ve seen that most projectors, portable or not, don't pack a punch when it comes to sound, and the case is no different here.
If there is one place the BenQ GS2 feels like a mixed bag, it is with the UI. Let's start with the good stuff. The projector is extremely easy to set up, it is literally a plug and play device. It has autofocus which works extremely well adjusting the focus as you move the projector. It also has auto keystoning and adjusting the corners is also quite easy to get the best fit for the picture. Navigating the settings is also fairly easy with the most important settings front and centre.
But the UI is a mixed bag. To begin with, you can wirelessly cast content onto the device from your iOS or Android device and also from the PC. We tried this with an iPhone and while we could AirPlay our family photos and videos, some of the videos shot on the smartphone didn't have audio playback from the speakers of the projector. While YouTube content streamed flawlessly, we couldn't AirPlay content off Netflix at all. You also have access to the Aptoide App store on the device and once again, the Netflix app here refused to run. We’ve seen the Aptoide app store in the past on portable projectors. The experience has always been lacklustre. Considering the data leak of Aptoide App store users last year, we suggest you resort to an external device like the Fire TV Stick like we did to make the most of this projector. The projector has a USB port, but it failed to recognize my 2TB HDD which has movies and photos locally stored.
If you are in the market to pick up a projector, then the 60k price point is a good budget to have. You can get a very good 1080p home theatre projector and there are a few portable options as well to consider. What the BenQ GS2 has going for it is a good build, good battery life and overall good picture performance, considering the form factor and use case. However, the UI left us wanting more in terms of smart features and the audio output is nothing to write home about. If you are looking for a projector to carry with you for those bonfire nights or vacations into the hills (whenever life goes back to normal), then this one can be considered.
Good picture performance
Good battery life
Smart UI features left us wanting more
Aptoide App store is best avoided