Review: BenQ’s GS2 wireless portable LED projector for outdoor family entertainment
If you want to bring the cinema into your home or garden - and just lately, that’s been our only option - then a projector could be a good investment.
But where do you start? Before diving into talk of lumens, casting and ports, let’s remember what really matters when you’re buying a projector.
First and foremost, you’ll want a good picture: a clear, high definition display that is simple to set up, and one that doesn’t suffer from lag or latency that interfere with your entertainment.
You’ll also want a projector that connects easily to whatever devices and services you have - whether it’s mirroring a laptop display or beaming Netflix on to your living room wall.
And then you’ll want good sound options: a usable built-in speaker, and straightforward connection to more powerful external speakers.
BenQ’s new wireless portable LED projector, GS2, certainly promises to tick all these boxes, while offering much more besides, including being splash-proof and drop-proof, which makes it ideal for outdoor entertainment.
It comes in a neat little bag and is simple to set up. Just connect it to your wifi using the supplied wireless dongle and you can get going in minutes.
There is a 15° tilt hinge, meaning you can easily project the display at the perfect angle on to a projection screen or wall. What’s more, it autofocuses with reliable accuracy - no fiddling around required there - and there’s keystone correction.
It’s also simple enough to cast a laptop display, meaning you can play a movie via a Blu-ray drive, or send Disney+ on to your screen.
Alternatively, you might prefer to use the embedded Aptoide TV app to watch Youtube, Netflix, Amazon Prime and other streaming services - no other device is then required.
You can cast from a mobile or tablet too, using Airplay or Chromecast to view videos, photos, web pages and music apps like Spotify. It’s worth noting that subscription-based streaming platforms, like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, do not allow mirroring from certain mobile devices, so the Aptoide TV app is the best option there. Or you could play straight from a USB stick.
Once you’ve picked your content of choice, sit back and enjoy the view. And what a view.
The GS2 offers 720p (1280 x 720 pixels) resolution, 1.07 billion colours (yes, we counted…), and a contrast ratio of 100,000:1. In practice, this means good detail writ large - you can comfortably watch a display a couple of metres wide if your screen or wall is big enough. The throw ratio is 1.3:1 - so from about nine feet (2.8m), you can project a 100in image.
In terms of brightness, it offers 500 ANSI lumens. This isn’t the brightest out there by any means - BenQ’s high-end TK850 projector offers a whopping 3,000 ANSI lumens, but that kind of brightness is really only needed for outdoor daytime displays. The brightness on offer from the GS2 is ideal for typical home viewing and is perfect at night-time, and its LumiExpert technology automatically senses the ambient light to optimise the brightness without straining your eyes.
The LED light source has an expected life of between 20,000 and 30,000 hours, so go ahead and watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy (you’ll need to plug it in by the time you get to The Two Towers - battery life is three hours).
Another feature we liked was the eye-protection sensor, which automatically turns off the light source if children peer at it - never a good idea to try with a projector of course. And there’s also a parental timer to draw a line under the children’s viewing.
With a ‘unibody structure’ and rubber surface design, the GS2 is intended to be robust. You can allegedly drop it from 0.5 metres. We didn’t test that… but it’s good to know.
IPX2-certified, it is protected from light drizzle or spilled water, and it is dust-resistant.
All this makes it an ideal garden, camping or family holiday projector, but it’s worth thinking about how you’ll connect it when outside.
You might have a strong enough wifi signal to prevent any stuttering during an outdoor projection - and GS2 has both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz channels, with the latter offering the smoothest connection.
But if not, you have other options. You can connect GS2 to a laptop via an HDMI for example, or use the USB-C port to connect to mobiles or laptops that support DisplayPort. There’s also a USB-A cable to read multimedia files on a USB flash drive.
You could also create a wifi hotspot using your mobile and connect via that if you have a decent signal, or even use the GS2 as a wifi hotspot to stream videos or pictures from your phone.
So what of the sound? GS2 has dual two-watt chambers, and can operate as a Bluetooth speaker in its own right. This power might suffice for casual viewing, but for a better experience you’ll want to connect it up to a separate Bluetooth speaker or headphones.
If you haven’t got those, there’s a 3.5mm audio socket that can also be used to connect wired headphones or perhaps computer speakers, with the USB ports offering power for them if required.
Gamers will also enjoy the ability to connect their Nintendo Switch, Xbox or PlayStation up via HDMI.
And another neat touch is the ability to control the GS2 using your mobile phone instead of the supplied remote control by downloading the BenQ Smart Control app from Google Play or Apple’s App Store.
Retailing at £589, although we’ve seen it for £549.99 on eBuyer, BenQ’s GS2 is packed with features and connectivity. There are cheaper, more basic projectors out there, of course, and many that boast full HD 1080p resolution or louder speakers. But the GS2 offers great flexibility that will suit families wanting to move it around home and garden, and take it on holiday.
By offering a portable, splash-proof, drop-proof projector offering a quality viewing experience via a host of casting and connectivity options, BenQ has ensured this is a product that will get lots of use - and provide plenty of entertainment. Now, where’s the popcorn?
- Brightness: 500 ANSI Lumens
- Contrast Ratio (FOFO): 100,000:1
- Speaker: 2W Chamber x 2
- Projection system: DLP 3438
- Resolution: 720p (1280 x 720 pixels)
- Brightness: 500 ANSI Lumens
- Contrast ratio: (FOFO): 100,000:1
- Display colour: 1.07 Billion Colors
- Native aspect ratio: Native 16:9 (5 aspect ratio selectable)
- Light source: Osram Q8A LED
- Light source life (NArmal/Eco/SmartEco)*: 20,000/30,000 hrs (normal/eco)
- Throw ratio: 1.3 (35" @ 1m)
- Zoom ratio: Fixed
- Keystone adjustment: 1D, Vertical ± 40 degrees
- Projection offset: 100% ± 5%
- Speaker: 2W Chamber x2
- HDMI (1.4a) / HDCP (1.4) x1
- USB 2.0 (Type A) x1
- USB-C (with DisplayPort alternate mode and data transfer) x1
- Audio Out: x1 (3.5mm)
- Light Sensor
- 2Ghz / 5Ghz
- Bluetooth 4.0
- IPX2, parental timer, LumiExpert, wireless projection* (for iOS/macOS, for Android, for PC), 15° tilting lens, autofocus, auto keystone, 3-hour battery
- Resolution support: VGA(640 x 480) to Full HD(1920 x 1080)
- Horizontal frequency: 15~102KHz
- Vertical scan rate: 23~85Hz
- HDTV compatibility: 480i, 480p, 576i, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
- Video compatibility: NTSC / NTSC4.43 / PAL / M-PAL / N-PAL / PAL60 / SECAM / HDTV
- Typical power consumption: 65W / 42W / 30W (max / normal / eco)
- Standby power consumption: 0.5W max. at 100 ~ 240VAC
- Power supply: VAC 100 ~ 240 (50/60Hz)
Dimensions and weight
- 139mm width x 144mm height x 139mm depth
- NAise level (NArmal/EcoNAmic mode): 31/29 dBA
- Operating temperature: 0-40℃
- Power adaptorx1
- Plug set (depends on SKU)
- USB-C cable x1
- Carry bag
- Remote control w/battery (RC model name) x1 (RCI014)
- Power cable (by region) x1
- Quick start guide
- Warranty card (by region)
- Wireless USB dongle x1 WDR02U (detachable)
- Nine languages: English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, simplified Chinese, Spanish, traditional Chinese
* The wireless projection and Bluetooth features are supported by detachable BenQ Wireless Dongle, WDR02U.
* The performance of WLAN and Bluetooth might be disturbed by distance and obstacles.
* LED life results will vary depending on environmental conditions and usage.The actual product's features and specifications are subject to change without notice.
* The contrast is measured by full on full off standard.
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More by this authorPaul Brackley
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