BenQ GV30 portable smart projector review

If you’ve ever wanted a pop-up home cinema, maybe for a kids' party or al fresco cocktail evening – or perhaps you want one to stow in your luggage and take on a holiday staycation – BenQ’s portable GV30 could be the answer.

With a built-in mustard-coloured carry handle, and smart carry case, this compact LED model offers everything you need for instant entertainment out and about.

A 720p beamer, it has an integrated Google Android OS, 16W audio system and 2.5-hour battery life when it’s away from the wall. And its design is striking.

BenQ GV30 design and features
The GV30's all-white circular chassis is distinguished by grilles left and right, with top-mounted controls for volume, Bluetooth and power. One grille disguises the sound system, the other opens to reveal a cavity for the supplied Google HDMI dongle. (Popping this plastic cover off is no easy task. BenQ supplies an orange plectrum to help detach it, but it still requires an inordinate amount of force to set it free).

Build quality impresses and the PJ's rugged design is said to be 'drop-proof' up to 0.7m. Once assembled, the GV30 sits in a bowl-like pedestal, which allows you to easily alter the angle of its recessed projection lens, up to 135 degrees. Control, including automated vertical keystone correction and focus, comes via a matching remote zapper.

The GV30 is designed to stream Google apps, plus Chromecast content from your mobile, but there is the option of connecting a source via HDMI (v1.4). Most obviously this would be a games console, although with an input lag of 51ms (1080/60) this isn’t a projector for competitive gamers.

The Google Android 9 interface is much the same as what you might get from a smart TV, without the tuner affectations. The app choice is currently quite limited though, with Prime Video, Disney+, ITV Hub, Apple TV+, StarzPlay and YouTube the main attractions. Netflix and BBC iPlayer are currently AWOL.

BenQ GV30 picture performance
Like all Pico projectors, the GV30's image isn’t particularly bright – it's rated at 300 Lumens. This limits when and where it can effectively be used. As a consequence black level and contrast is cramped. Operating noise is quite high too.

Preternaturally dark sequences spell trouble. When Princess is thrown into the freight container by stormtroopers in the pre-title sequence of The Walking Dead episode 'Splinter' (Season 10, Disney+), it’s impossible to tell where the character ends and the shadows of her confinement begin. The picture is just a uniform smoosh of grey.

The more kaleidoscopic hues of Pixar’s Inside Out fare far better. The GV30 may lack black-level depth, but sunlit scenes and cheerful primaries look far more appealing. Colour fidelity is good, with reds deep and convincing, blues beautifully naturalistic. The multi-coloured memory spheres inside Riley’s head look particularly terrific. The message is clear: stay away from gloomy horror. The projector is based around a 0.23in Pico DMD. I did spot some rainbow fringing from the DLP engine, but generally this was a rarity.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is just how crisp the GV30’s images look. 720p it may be, but HD sources appear reassuringly sharp.

The sound system by TreVolo proves surprisingly rich too, although with 2 x 4W amplification, and another 8W dedicated to a woofer, you’ll probably need to run it at maximum volume in the average room. The good thing is it doesn’t obviously distort when cranked high.

Be aware the GV30 isn’t a short-throw model, requiring some distance to cast an image. Two metres will get you a 65in picture, which is about as big as you might want to push its resolution and LED light engine.

Overall, the GV30 is a fun solution for those that want to throw an impromptu cinema party. Performance may not warrant close scrutiny, but the form factor is fabulous.

HCC Verdict: 3/5

BenQ GV30

Price: £500

We say: An innovative, rugged design and accommodating Android OS give this 720p portable its appeal. But it's more fun than filmic.

BenQ GV30 specifications

3D: No 4K: No. 720p HDR: No CONNECTIONS: 2 x HDMI inputs; USB-C; 3.5mm audio output BRIGHTNESS (CLAIMED): 300 Lumens CONTRAST (claimed): 100,000:1 ZOOM: No DIMENSIONS:120(w) x 195.8(h) x 185(d)mm WEIGHT: 1.6kg

FEATURES: Pico LED light engine; 16W (claimed) built-in audio; 20,000-hour rated lamp life; 29dB rated fan noise; Bright, Cinema, Day Time, Game, Living Room and Sports picture presets; Android OS; Bluetooth; Chromecast built-in; auto vertical keystone/focus