BenQ GP10 £399
14th Nov 2013 | 10:16
Compact, short-throw DLP LED projector with innovative iOS integration
BenQ's GP10 is designed for small places.
Able to project a 40-inch image from just a metre away, it's a solution for two scenarios; presentations in small rooms, offices and boardrooms, and for watching movies at home. Wherever it's used, the GP10 is very clearly designed to be placed in front of the viewer rather than behind.
It's the travelling business types that will get the most out of the GP10: at 1.5kg it's among the smallest around, measuring 62x220x177mm, and it ships with a padded briefcase-style bag with a shoulder strap and compartments for cables.
Although the GP10 is designed to attract home cinema-makers on a budget, at its heart it's a data projector. That's obvious from the rear connections panel, which holds an old-fashioned RGB D-sub 15-pin port for attaching a laptop as well as HDMI and a down-and-dirty composite video input.
That should cover most of the bases, though it's also got an SD Card slot and both a standard USB and mini USB slot. There are basic single 3.5mm audio jacks routing audio both in and out, too.
The latter is by dint of the GP10's built-in amplifier and stereo 3W speakers on the GP10's front. With smaller, portable projector's such as the GP10 there are always trade-offs to be made, and here it's with brightness.
The GP10 manages just 500 Lumens, which pretty much restricts it to being used in a near-blackout. However, unlike many beamers this small, the GP10 does achieve a HD resolution: its 1280x800 pixel resolution just about qualifies as HD-ready, and it will happily downscale Full HD 1080p video – perhaps from a Blu-ray player or games console – through its HDMI input. Also available from BenQ is a tailor-made detachable DVD player, which slots to the GP10's undercarriage.
That short-throw skill (throw ratio is 1.2) makes set-up easy, with reasonably sharp 65-inch image achieved from 90cm, though any bigger and the visible resolution quickly reduces (though theoretically the GP10 can project a 240-inch image). An automatic keystone feature helps out a lot with image placement, as does a retractable foot on the GP10's bottom.
The GP10 uses a simple, animated carousel-based user interface that's there only to scroll through (and initialise) its inputs and connectivity options, though it's fairly slow on the uptake. One option is USB/Wireless Streaming, the latter of which requires a WiFi dongle. There is one in the box, and it creates a WiFi network that allows hook-up of an iPhone or iPad running the free GP10 QPresenter app for iOS.
It's truly excellent; it doesn't mirror the screen, but instead projects documents – including Apple's Pages, Keynote and Numbers documents as well as all Microsoft Office-flavours – though photos are what it loves most of all. Accessing an iOS device's photo stream, it allows not only rapidly swiped slideshows, but virtual doodling on the image in real-time. This opens the way to some interesting interactive possibilities and, as a bonus, a copy of the altered image is saved in the app.
There's also a wireless display feature for pairing a laptop; the GP10 creates its own WiFi network and hosts the EZ QPresenter software itself, though the EZWifiMac software we downloaded via Safari (Chrome was of no use) failed to produce EZ Qpresenter.
USB playback of digital files is far better. In our test the GP10's software managed to read all manner of PowerPoint, Word, Excel and PDF, and much more besides. That same software – divvied-up into Music.Video/Photos – supports MP3, MP2, AAC, OGG, WAV and WMA music, MKV, AVI, MP4, MPEG-2, MOV and WMV video, and JPEG and BMP photos. Photos are treated especially well, with a 4x6 display of thumbnails and a preview pane.
These same files can also be played by this same software from an SD card, by running a USB cable to the GP10 from a laptop or from the GP10's own 1.66GB of usable flash storage, the latter added to via USB. The other video inputs take images direct.
Watched in a room in daylight but with windows partially covered, the GP10's 16:10-shaped images are impressive. Vivid colours dominate and images, graphics and text all appear sharp with well defined edges. With Looper playing from Lovefilm we did notice a lack of shadow detail and contrast as well as slightly rosy skin tones, but there's no sign of any motion judder nor much rainbow effect, which normally we're susceptible to.
Sound from the built-in 3W speakers SRS surround sound is fine for presentations and reasonably good for dialogue-heavy movies, but it's too loud; it goes up only in about five steps between mute and deafness, which makes it a poor choice for video games. Considering its likely position on a coffee table in front of the viewer, a headphones slot would be nice.
The GP10 is great value. Connectivity options abound, and we particularly like the awesome iOS app, media player software and the simple carousel-based user interface.
The file support is massive, and not just for presentations and word processed files; all common filetypes for movies, photos and music and supported – and many rare formats, too. Easy to set-up and operate, we were impressed by the GP10's solid picture quality, while sound wasn't bad either.
The lack of working laptop screen mirroring software for a Mac is a shame, as is the no-show for an Android app. During our test the GP10 ran at an average of 49 decibels, peaking at 61 decibels.
Though the user interface is simple, the remote control it's operated by is thin, too long and slow – it can take up to a second for commands to be received and acted upon by the G10. Fine for watching a movie, but not for skipping from file to file during a presentation.
It's not the finest projector around, but we'd judge the GP10 as a great-value choice for life in an office and occasional trips home. Versatile images and surprisingly loud speakers make this an everyman small projector as at home on a coffee table for the odd movie as for a presentation on-the-go.
We particularly like how files can be played from a SD card or USB stick, and though the Mac software to bring wireless laptop mirroring is troublesome and there's no Android app, the iOS app's integration and real-time photo slideshows – complete with live doodling – is exquisite. If you're on a tight budget and after an all-rounder with something special, BenQ's GP10 makes a great choice.