BenQ GV30 Projector Reviewed

Not so long ago – wait, it was over a year? Wowser! – I reviewed the BenQ GS2 portable projector. It was a mix of excellent – if a touch expensive – hardware with terrible software. Mired, as it was, by an absolutely miserable, ancient version of Android.

BenQ, whether they listened to me or not, have fixed that with their GV30. A not-battery-power but none the less portable 720 projector in the same ilk as the GS2. The GV30 uses an internal HDMI dongle (A feature that I loved in the w2700i) ensuring you have at least a glimmer of a hope of upgrading the Android system if the projector outlasts it.

And the GV30 doesn’t stop impressing there- the bold design is built around the large internal speaker and ends up being more than a little evocative of a DVD Handycam. It screams “lifestyle” and “family” and isn’t at all meant to be taken seriously as a home cinema projector, but is excellent for keeping the kids distracted with cartoons, watching the odd movie over dinner, or firing up a SNES emulator with Bluetooth controllers for some classic gaming.

The design is smart, too, and not just flashy. The rounded bottom of the GV30 fits into a little puck-like base allowing the projector to be tilted through quite a range without the excruciating frustration of spinning little screw-in feet to get the right angle. This is great for projecting up from the floor onto a large wall, or even up to the ceiling without doing so much as tilting the projector in its base. Clever!

If the stand really doesn’t tickle your fancy then there’s a 1/4″ standard tripod thread in the bottom and the projector will happily sit on any camera tripod you happen to have handy. This is great for sticking it up high to avoid items on a table casting shadows. It’s also theoretically possible to wall mount, although I wouldn’t trust it to a cheap ball-head mount.

The remote works well and is easy enough to pair, and there’s Bluetooth too- gamepads like the 8bitdo n30 pro work beautifully giving control over the main UI and – of course – the joy of wonderful wonderful emulators.

The USB-C port works for DisplayPort which is handy for modern, USB-C equipped laptops which might even output a video signal over their charge cables if you’re lucky. It took a couple of false stars to get my Star Lite working, but sure enough it displayed a picture through its LONG supplied cable. 45W of Power Delivery will keep a modest laptop (like my Star Lite) charged but is a little underwhelming for most 13″ laptops you’re likely to want to hook USB-C to USB-C to this thing. Still… pretty impressive!

Alongside USB-C comes a regular HDMI port which you’ll easily hook a games console and most other doodads too. You probably wont use it much, though, since the built-in Android smarts will play all the media you could ever need.

It did not, however, seem to work for hooking up a controller. I suspect using it for USB devices might be hit or miss- or mostly miss. This is a plug and play family projector and if you’re eyeing that port for anything fancier you might be disappointed.

The carrying case blows the GS2’s out of the water and is a necessary touch for a portable projector, but it’s nice that they’ve really put thought into the look and feel. It’s solid, a fetching combo of grey and yellow and matches the accent of the projector’s carrying handle.

It’s just a 720p projector, though. That’s the resolution sold to us as “HD Ready” many, many years ago and feels a little lackluster by modern standards. That said for kids, family photos and casual watching it turns out to be more than enough and even though I’m spoiled from testing 4K, laser, short-throw projector marvels I didn’t find it off-putting.

The 2.1 speakers are pretty decent. Albeit I remain – even with my lack of directional hearing – convinced that putting speakers in projectors is a bit silly, since it makes the audio come from behind you rather than… y’know… from the people doing the talking or the action on screen. In practice this hasn’t bothered anyone actually watching it, and most definitely doesn’t phase my two year old. It’s a good compromise for portability.

Overall at £530 I think the GV30 is reasonable, if a little out of my budget since it’s very much a lifestyle luxury and not a necessity nor a replacement for a decent 4K TV at home. I’d probably buy one if it were £399. I can dream! Bravo to BenQ for ticking all the boxes and making something I’m sad to wave goodbye to.

I realise now that I’d somehow managed to miss mentioning the battery in this review- the GV30 has an internal battery good for a claimed 2.5 hours. I never tested it. In fact I didn’t even realise there was a battery until I boxed it up to return to BenQ. The charger is so compact that it never really bothered me.

Use it as a temporary TV for your kids bedroom or kitchen, something to break out during family get-togethers, a way to project a huge fireplace on your wall at Christmas and all the other things you need a screen for that don’t warrant hauling around a whole TV.