Why aren’t we all using projectors instead of TVs?
Surely the prospect of a giant display at a reasonable price is a no-brainer?
You still need some pretty specific requirements for the room you put a projector in. In fact, you probably need to build the entire room around the projector, just to make sure it’s in exactly the right place. Oh, and it has to be dark. Super dark. Probably best to just watch at night.
Other than that, the perfect solution.
BenQ has other ideas…
The BenQ GV30 might get the prize for the cutest-looking device I’ve reviewed all year. It’s a portable projector but it doesn’t really look like a projector at all. If it was completely round it’d be about the size and shape of a small cake tin on its edge.
The circular speaker grilles on each side and the leather carry-loop on the top give it the appearance of a bluetooth speaker – which you can use it for – but we’ll get to that soon enough. An attractive carry-case is included with plenty of room for the GV30, its power supply and any other cables you might want to bring with you.
There’s a rather cunning magnetic stand for the GV30 to sit in, enabling you to point it at any angle, depending on what you’re wanting to project onto. You’ll also find a standard photographic mounting screw socket on the base so you can set the GV30 up on a stand or flip it upside down and suspend it from the ceiling.
As you can tell already, this is an incredibly versatile wee gadget and we haven’t even switched it on yet.
Before we do, there’s a slightly fiddly bit of setting up which is a very odd process I’ve encountered with previous BenQ projectors; connecting and installing the separate QS01 Android TV dongle. I still don’t understand why this isn’t simply built into the projector itself but for some unknown reason, you’re required to prize the left-hand speaker grille off with a special tool, (included) plug the dongle in, clip it in place and reattach the side panel. So weird.
You can then fire the GV30 up, sign into your Google account and any of the pre-installed apps and download any others – like TVNZ+, ThreeNow, Disney+ or Neon. Unfortunately – and again I don’t really have a good explanation for it – you can’t install Netflix or Apple TV+. This is made all the more strange by the fact that you can both Chromecast and AirPlay to the GV30. What’s weirder still is you don’t seem to be able to cast directly from either the Netflix or AppleTV+ apps – although you can from browser windows streaming that content. Hey, don’t stress about it too much – you can always just plug in an external streaming device like an Amazon Fire TV Stick or Chromecast with Google TV.
That’s because there’s a full-sized HDMI port, as well as a USB-C slot. So it’s a cinch to use the GV30 as an external monitor for your PC, laptop or console too. That’s right folks, have massive gaming display, will travel.
Other than the unexplained app limitation, the GV30’s only other major shortfall is display resolution – at just 720P you might miss the crystal clarity offered by increasingly more available 4K devices – especially if you’re using the projector to beam an image over 60-inches in size or bigger.
However, you might also find the benefits far outweigh those minor drawbacks. As I’ve discovered with other BenQ projectors, the GV30’s ability to auto-focus and auto-keystone is pretty much magical. This is what makes it so easy to take anywhere and project onto anything; walls, ceilings, sheets, curtains – as long as the ambient light conditions aren’t too glaring, this projector is good to go. Despite clocking in at the low end of the HD scale, the picture is still bright, clear and colorful.
And truly portable – the fully charged battery will last for up to 150 minutes of video viewing and almost twice as long if you’re using the GV30 as a bluetooth speaker.
So why would you use a projector as a bluetooth speaker? Because that’s how good the sound is on this thing. Not only does it get reasonably loud but there’s plenty of bass. This makes both parties and blockbuster movies sound way better than I was expecting.
For a little machine, it’s jam-packed with settings you can tweak to maximize your viewing experience – there are different presets for gaming or movies and if you’re not satisfied with the Auto-Focus and Vertical Keystone function, you can of course take manual control.
Speaking of which, the remote is pretty user-friendly, with plenty of practical shortcuts for instant access to things like input selection, projector settings and a dedicated button for Prime Video. You can also use your phone as a remote if you prefer (which might be a good idea if you’re out and about with the projector; one less thing to lose!)
The GV30 may not be the projector to replace your TV forever but if you’re somewhere your TV can’t go (so, basically anywhere other than the room it’s in) this is a very easy way to access big-screen entertainment with virtually no setup at all.