With our student getting ready to return home it was time to setup the den upstairs. The timing couldn’t have been better because BenQ got in touch and asked us if we’d like to add one of their portable projectors to the Automated Home.
What Is It?
Described as the ‘World’s First 2.1CH Audio Portable Projector’, the GV30 is an all-in-one projector with sound, approximately 12cm x 20cm x 2cm and weighing in at 1.6 kg. It uses a DLP chip to produce its native 720p image (1280 x 720) and can handle up to a 4K UHD input (3840 x 2160).
With brightness rated at 300 ANSI Lumens, you need a dark room to get the most from the GV30. BenQ quote the lifetime of the LED light source as 20,000 in normal mode. To put that in real world terms, if you used the projector for 5 hours a day, 6 days a week, it should last for over 12 years.
The noise levels of the cooling fan are very low so not to interfere with the action and the top mounted buttons allow for easy control of the unit. There are 3 speakers on-board, a 4 watt unit for each of the left and right channels, plus a third 8 watt woofer for some lower frequencies. That means this one box portable solution provides a 2.1 channel setup.
The speakers create a sound that’s a step above many flat screen TVs and it’s plenty loud. There’s also a 3.5mm audio-out jack if you want to feed the sound into an external system. With onboard Bluetooth you can also send you music from your phone etc and use it as a Bluetooth Speaker.
As part of the setup process you use a little guitar-pick shaped tool to prise the case apart and install the BenQ QS01 Android TV Dongle on the internal HDMI. The cover snaps back on giving a clean look without anything sticking out of the unit.
There’s a second HDMI on the side (1.4b/HDCP1.4) if you want to use your own streaming stick or other device. The USB-C socket can be used as a DisplayPort input too.
The circular shaped projector then sits onto a magnetic base, allowing it to rotate to the desired angle. Removing the magnetic base reveals a useful tripod socket, making it even easier to mount if you have one to hand.
At the Movies
Once the blinds are closed the picture comes to life, along with the wow-factor that a large projected image brings. We’re projecting the image onto a plain painted wall, which works really well without any special paints or a ‘proper’ screen.
There’s no zoom function on the GV30 so the image size is determined by how far away you position it from your wall. The BenQ recommend an image between 30″ and 120″, and with its 135° projection angle, you can site it almost anywhere. On a coffee table, a shelf, or even on the floor. Anyone that’s used a portable projector before will probably recognise the scenario where you are looking for a stack of books, just the right height, but this simple but clever swivel base means it’s easy to adjust. In our room the best picture size / quality was obtained by putting the unit behind the sofa which gave us the 118″ diagonal in the photo above.
There’s auto-focus and a Vertical Keystone feature that straightens those trapezoid’s into rectangles automatically (+/- 40°) and there are 6 picture modes – Bright, Cinema, Day Time, Living Room, Sports and Game with an input lag of 51 ms ([email protected]).
Streaming Media, Local Files
One of the best things about the BenQ GV30 is that built in Android TV, along with the wireless streaming that the onboard Wi-Fi brings (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2.4G and 5G).
You can cast from your mobile device to the projector, or play from Android apps directly. To install Netflix first you’ll need to grab the “Apps Manager” from the Google Play store. Next, open the apps manager and find and install “Aptoide” and use it to download “Netflix”.
The built-in battery means you’ll be tempted to take your movies on the go, or even try it outdoors or maybe even on a camping trip. You can play your own media plugging a memory stick into the USB-C port if you are off grid too. In testing we got around 2 hours use on battery power. The projector comes with a really nice carry case too which holds the included remote control and power lead.
We’ve tried a few portable projectors over the years and this one is a step above. While it costs a bit more than someone of the cheaper options around, in our opinion it’s well worth the extra.
The portable GV30 feels well built and has the benefits of that built-in Android TV and the flexibility that the onboard battery power provides too.
It has already provided hours of entertainment and has quickly become a permanent fixture in our den. Once you’ve watched a movie on a big screen it’s hard to go back to a normal TV!