In between chunky, Full HD home theatre-projectors and tiny, pocket sized Pico projectors is a new, growing category – the palmtop projector. These projectors incorporate features of the other two mentioned categories – good image quality coupled with easy portability, and they find a fit both in the home and the office. BenQ, a leading brand in projectors has launched the Joybee GP2 palmtop projector. Successor to the highly popular and award winning Joybee GP1, this palmtop brings better resolution, an iPod/Phone dock and an array of connectivity ports.
Although looks aren't the primary focus for most projectors, the Joybee GP2 delights with its sophisticated, sleek look. Weighing in at about 1.2 pounds (approximately half a kg), it's extremely portable. The projector even ships with a cute little case to prevent it from getting scratched. The glossy black top is prone to smudges but that doesn't take the attention away from the control area in the centre. Arranged in a circle, the Joybee GP2's controls are touch-sensitive and LED backlit. It also comes with an additional battery for continuous use up to 3 hours, although this would add to the weight. The battery pack snaps on underneath the projector via a port on the underside.
The USP of this projector is definitely the plethora of connectivity options. Apart from the iPod/iPhone dock on the top, there's also an SD card slot at the rear. Turn it to the side and you'll find a full-sized USB port (it can play files directly off a USB drive, a Micro HDMI slot (the projector ships with a handy Micro HDMI to HDMI connector) and a Mini USB slot (which lets you hook up your laptop or PC to it). There's also a provision to add Composite via an included cable. There are 3.5mm jacks for audio in and out, in addition to the 2 watt stereo speakers built in to the projector. Another handy feature: the Joybee GP2 has 2GB of internal memory.
At the bottom of the projector is a metal screw-in to attach a tripod. And if you're not looking for some heavy angling, the Joybee GP2 has a tiny screw-out stand which allows you to adjust its tilt and height.
The Joybee GP2 requires no setting up, and within seconds of connecting the power cable, you'll see a BenQ screen projected on to whichever surface you're using with a detailed menu. A focus ring on the side allows you to adjust the sharpness of the image. The menu is easy to navigate around using the touch controls on top. Their touch sensitivity isn't great but it's perfectly fine for the job. The projector also ships with a small, palm-sized remote which covers all the controls.
The native resolution of the projector is WXGA (1,280x800 pixels) which is pretty good for something its size. Using a DLP chip, the projector uses an LED lamp with lamplife estimated at 20,000 hours (which is virtually a lifetime). Using eco mode would extend that to 30,000 hours.
At native resolution, the Joybee GP2 can project a maximum screen size of 160-inches. The 1.13 short throw ratio means you can project 44-inches at a 1-metre distance, useful for offices or small living rooms. I played back a few videos via a USB drive and through an iPod touch. Videos and images were for the most part sharp and clear and I didn't notice any rainbow effect (where you see multicoloured lines when there's a fast moving object or you turn away suddenly), which are common on Pico projectors.
The projector features a contrast ratio of 2400:1 and a brightness of 200 ANSI lumens. In some of the videos I played back, the flesh tones took on a pinkish hue, which bled on to some of the whites. The brightness wasn't really great, and projected images dimmed visibly when ambient light entered the room, something I didn't face even in the Pico projectors like Acer K11 and 3M MP180. It's not really an ideal source for watching movies, but it can suffice to entertain a small bunch. The 2-watt speakers are surprisingly loud enough to fill a room, but if you really want to enjoy a movie I would suggest hooking up to more powerful external speakers.
Apart from supporting various video, music and picture formats, you can also project documents using the Joybee GP2.
A small but obvious issue with the projector is the audible hum it produces when it's plugged in, which can cause a fair bit of disturbance in a quiet room.
If it's stellar image quality you're looking for, the Joybee GP2 isn't the projector for you. But as far as portability, aesthetics and connectivity go, it wins hands down.
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