There are lots of reasons to get a projector for your dorm room. Obviously, it's cool to play movies, TV, and video games on a big screen. Believe me, the ladies will love watching Steel Magnolias and seeing Tom Skerritt's lovable face larger than life. Also, a projector is great for parties - we've projected movies, music videos, and other cool visuals on the wall with the sound off and it's always a hit.
When we received a request to review the Joybee GP1 Mini Projector, we jumped at the chance, as we spent both junior and senior year of college enjoying having a projector in our dorm, and then in our off campus house.
It all started junior year, when one of our roommates brought home a rented projector and screen over the weekend that he needed for a presentation. After spending nearly every hour that weekend watching movies in awe of the size and quality we never turned back. We immediately turned to eBay, but there are a number of problems with projectors that are within the college budget.
First, most of the worthwhile projectors you'll find in this price range are used so the lamp will have quite a few hours of use on it, and lamps are insanely expensive to replace. Second, the technology is old so the hardware is large, runs hot, won't have a lot of video connectivity options, and likely won't be very bright. We ended up with a decent projector, but it took a long time to warm up, and if you didn't have it positioned perfectly the image looked warped.
Luckily, the BenQ Joybee GP1 has come to the rescue! It's small, lightweight, extremely bright, comes loaded with input options, and solves a number of problems that plague lower cost projectors.
Just to be fully transparent, we should say that BenQ was kind enough to send us a projector to review, but we were prepared to be harsh as our previous experience with a low cost projector was laughable (it was essentially a toy from Target that was barely bright in absolute darkness and was returned almost immediately).
However, the Joybee exceeded our expectations in every category and we highly recommend it for your dorm. For our review, we'll focus on why it's great for a college student.
The first advantage of buying the Joybee is that it's new. You can get all the benefits of owning a new product without the outrageous price tag. At $499 dollars, it's very reasonable on a college budget, especially if you split it with roommates. Also, with a new product you get new technology. Our favorite feature in the Joybee is its ability to automatically adjust the keystone of the projected picture to try and project a perfect rectangle regardless of the angle you are projecting from. This by far the most annoying part of the our older projector. If you don't have the perfect angle the picture is distorted. The Joybee solves the problem effortlessly.
The GP1 is really small. We were blown away when we took it out of the box. It's barely over a pound and about the size of an external hard drive. A small external hard drive. This makes it portable, and easy to take down and put back up if you don't have a good spot to leave it set up all the time. As you can see from our pictures, we mounted it on a camera tripod. The geniuses at BenQ outfitted the little guy with a tripod mount, and we think this is a great place to put it as you can make lots of small adjustments to get the picture just right. Also, if you ever need to make a presentation in a room without a projector you can just drop the Joybee in your computer bag.
The Joybee is also the world's first LED-based projector, with an extremely bright lamp boasting 20,000 hours of life (typical projector lamps last around two to four thousand hours). Given that dorm rooms don't always have the greatest conditions for projections (bad or missing shades, too much ambient light, etc.) having a bright picture is extremely important. BenQ says the maximum projection size is 80" (diagonal). That's pretty big, but we've found that it can get bigger. It might not be optimum brightness or clarity, but it still looks impressive and for a movie quality might be less important than for a slide presentation.
In addition to standard monitor and composite video inputs, the GP1 can project video and image files off of a USB drive. If they're in the right format (the manual describes how to compress them correctly), you just plug your drive into the back and it will play through a slideshow or a movie. This is great for a party or a presentation because you don't have to mess with plugging your computer in and risk it getting stolen or stepped on.
After playing with the Joybee GP1 Mini Projector for a little while, we very highly recommend it for college students looking for a low cost, high quality dorm room projection experience. Its size makes it perfect for small spaces and its brightness, and its keystone and color correction features make it ideal for less than ideal projecting conditions. If we had to find some flaws, we'd say it would be great if it could project in HD with an HDMI input, and it would be great if you could add a battery pack for even more portability. But, for the price it's pretty spectacular, and these features might just be too much to ask for.
If you're as excited as us about the Joybee, you can pre-order one now at BenQ.
Finally, so you can get pumped about what it will be like when it arrives, here's a sweet unboxing video from SlashGear:
And here's a video by BenQ showing all that the Joybee can do: