GADGETS | Watch A Movie Under The Stars With The Incredible BenQ GS1 Camping Projector

BenQ GS1 Camping Proejctor in our tent

What is it?

BenQ GS1 camping projector RRP: £529


Technical features

  • Cable-free outdoor family entertainment with built-in USB reader
  • Palm sized, 1kg light weight and 3 hour battery life
  • WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity
  • Project 60” big screen from just 1m away
  • Drop proof and IPX1 Splash Proof
  • Hassle free setup within seconds
  • Various pre-set picture modes including camping mode

Find the full technical specification of the GS1 here.

What’s in the box?

Firstly, can we just take a moment to appreciate the obvious care and attention that’s clearly gone into designing the packaging of the GS1? The box has a wood grain print and comes with a rustic looking handle, which fits nicely with the intended outdoor use of the product.

BenQ GS1 Camping Projector Unboxing

Inside the box there’s a padded carry case. We see so many products that have been designed for camping that totally overlook the need to transport things easily, so it’s nice to see that despite the GS1 being such a high-tech product, BenQ haven’t overlooked the basics. Inside the padded carry case there’s the projector unit itself, the battery pack, a soft orange cover, instruction manual, charging cable, remote control and a set of batteries.

BenQ GS1 Camping Proejctor
Projected onto the front of our tent

What did we think?

Getting the unit charged and set up on WiFi was our first task, and as usual, I never bother to read instruction manuals and just dive straight in. I always think the mark of good product design, particularly when it comes to tech, is that a product and it’s software interface should be intuitive to use, and the BenQ GS1 didn’t disappoint.

Setting up the BenQ GS1 Camping Proejctor in our tent

We loved that there were a number of pre-set modes especially optimised for camping

Getting WiFi set up did initially take a little bit of random button pressing before I had it figured out, but when you start up the GS1 it immediately takes you through a set-up wizard. Initially it took quite a while to connect to our WiFi (but we do live in the 3 story house with the router on the ground floor) but once set up, we plugged in our Firestick and immediately went on to YouTube to play a few music videos through it. The new Foo Fighters song Run was a good first test for it. The audio was surprisingly good, and projected onto the white wall in our bedroom, the picture was crisp.

BenQ GS1 Camping Proejctor in our tent
Closeup showing the various ports at the rear of the projector, providing plenty of connection options

After using it at home, we then took it on a big camping trip with us to really put it through it’s paces as we were interested to see how it would fare when used outdoors. Despite the unit not having a particularly high Lumen count, we didn’t have an issue with the brightness of the projector. It’s true to say that when used in direct/bright light, it wasn’t brilliant, but then I’ve never used a projector (including big boardroom projectors at a much higher price point) that can perform well in full daylight. The projector was clearly visible in the evening light, and was absolutely brilliant once the sun had gone down.

BenQ GS1 portable projector outside our tent

We projected outside the front of our tent as the sun was setting, and then again inside the tent when it was fully dark and the screen was perfectly visible under both conditions, but as you’d expect, it was that bit better when it was full dark later on in the evening.

BenQ GS1 Camping Proejctor
Projecting onto the front of our tent, early evening

Audio wise, the sound was plenty loud enough for us to hear even though we were camped on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea, so it had the noise of waves and other campers to contend with! Turning it up just past half way, the GS1 was loud enough for us to hear outdoors, and later, inside the tent whilst other campers were asleep, we watched another movie and had the volume turned almost all the way down, which in the quiet of the night, was plenty loud enough for us both to hear.

BenQ GS1 Camping Proejctor in our tent
The projector stored inside our tent, shown with the carry case

Final verdict?

OK so this is a pretty niche product, and it IS pricey, so it’s not going to be the first thing on most campers essentials list. That said, whilst we usually camp mostly tech-free, there are the odd afternoons or evenings when we’re camping when it’s just the two of us and we just want to snuggle up and chill. Normally we’d listen to music or read, but having the option to watch a film felt wonderfully decadent, and I remarked that it was like camping in the future.

For glamping site owners, giving guests the option to watch a movie under the stars could be a great additional option, whilst for families camping in bad weather, it provides the option of watching a family movie together. We camped for 5 days with the GS1, and whilst we had glorious sunshine for 4 of those days, on the 5th evening it rained, reminding us how useful the projector is for entertaining campers inside the tent in bad weather.

We absolutely love the BenQ GS1 and will be making good use of it not only on future camping trips, but also at home.

BenQ GS1 Camping Proejctor in our tent
Getting the projector ready to watch a film on our recent camping trip

Pros and Cons

  • We loved that there were a number of pre-set modes especially optimised for camping
  • We really liked how the projector looks and the slightly ruggedised orange case
  • The compact carry case is well thought out and nicely padded making it perfect for travelling/camping
  • The interface is intuitive and easy to use, we didn’t use the instruction manual
  • We loved that once set up on WiFi we could plug our Firestick straight in to watch movies
  • Surprisingly good sound quality
  • A great selection of various input ports at the rear of the projector
  • Good build quality; everything about it felt solid and capable
  • Great picture quality, so much so we’ve used it at home several times and will take away on most camping trips from now on
  • Different screen settings allow for the different colours of your chosen projection surface, the picture looked great on our sandstone bell tent
  • The 3 hour battery life is enough for one film or two very short films (if you’re lucky)
  • It’s an expensive bit of kit
  • The bulb isn’t massively bright, so we’d recommend using it inside the tent, at dusk or at night for best results
BenQ GS1 Camping Proejctor close up view of front

Thank you to BenQ for providing the featured product for us to field test.

Where to next?

Shell Robshaw-Bryan
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