BenQ GS1 Portable LED Projector

More than once while testing this bit of kit, I thought to myself "If only I could show someone from 50 years ago this little gadget." That's how remarkable this BenQ GS1 is... it's quite hard to believe that there is so much functionality packed into such a small footprint.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself... firstly, let me introduce you properly. The BenQ GS1 is a tiny (less than 1 kg and fits in the palm of your hand) battery powered projector. More than just a bog standard projector, it's got Android installed, USB ports and a memory card slot and has speakers built in. That means you can load up movies onto a USB stick or memory card and play them directly from the projector. No need to hook up a phone/tablet/computer or speakers.

Now, I can hear what some of you are already thinking - why would you want to take a projector on a camping trip, isn't it about getting away from it all? While I hear you, and cable/battery/technology free camping is definitely my preferred mode of operation, a little gadget like this offers up so many opportunities for entertaining kids and adults alike (movie in the woods anyone?!?). Even if you've used the iPad as a babysitter once, just think how much better this would be!

And it's definitely made for use in the great outdoors... apart from the battery (which should last for up to 3 hours on a lower brightness setting according to BenQ - we found battery life to be closer to 2 hours on the brightest setting), it has a rubberised cover that is splash proof and drop proof. Some technical titbits... it has a short throw lens, so you can get a 60cm picture from around 1m away. Which means you could even use it inside a tent or campervan/caravan! It also has auto-keystone, which works well 90% of the time and means you don't have to constantly adjust the picture when moving the projector and/or changing the angle of the surface on to which you're projecting (think being able to easily move it from projecting on to the outside of your van/caravan to the inside of a tent without having to stop to adjust a hundred settings).

One concern I had when reading through the specs was that 700 lumens didn't seem very bright compared to other projectors (albeit mains powered) offering 2,500 lumens and more. In testing it seemed just as bright, but the numbers don't lie? As such, I ran some fairly unscientific tests comparing the GS1 to my existing 2,500 lumen mains powered projector. Surely the mains-powered projector was much brighter? As it turns out, no. Because the GS1 can create large picture from a much shorter distance, it actually performs just as well (if not marginally better) than the big, powerful mains projector. If you don't believe me, photos don't lie! I’m reliably informed that LED lamps are around twice as bright as regular lamps, which would explain why the numbers can be so confusing. One last comment on the lamp is that LED lamps last significantly longer than traditional lamps, so you can expect to get up to 30,000 hours of use out of the GS1… to put it in perspective, that’s around 15,000 movies (or every Eastenders episode ever aired, 12 times over, whichever takes your fancy).

So, is it worth buying? I won't lie, at £549 RRP this isn't an unconsidered purchase that you can buy to leave in your camping box and use a few times a year. However, if you don't already have a projector at home, this is more than capable of performing double duty as a home and camping projector. We've never watched as many movies in our house as we have since testing the GS1. We also use it on the deck for outdoor cinema evenings and even in the campervan. All of those things (except the campervan movies maybe!) are possible with a regular projector, but the GS1 being so small and battery powered makes it far easier (and therefore more likely to happen!).

So, all in all, if you've got the budget and are looking for a little portable entertainment love in your life, then yes, it's highly recommended!