The BenQ GS50 is a portable projector that is designed with outdoor movie nights in mind.
The GS50 has 1080p resolution, a built-in streaming stick and powerful speakers. The projector is coated with a hard plastic finish and the green sides have a rubberized look and feel to them.
Here is a breakdown of my hands-on review of the BenQ GS50 over a period of two weeks:
- Standout features
- Design, setup and performance
Each port has snap-in covers to keep out moisture and other bits of nature while you are outdoors. The projector is splash-proof, and rated as drop-proof for about two feet, four inches, according to BenQ.
The remote control makes navigating the projector’s Android TV operating system and features a breeze. There are buttons for autofocus and keystone correction. You can refine any setting from color to sound without having to get out of your seat.
The GS50 has full 1080p resolution, which is only seen with higher-priced portable projectors. The 500 ANSI lumens isn’t the brightest portable projector that I have tested. But it is brighter and has higher resolution than a number of smaller handheld mini projectors from the Anker Capsule series.
The GS50 delivers a very solid picture with rich colors in the dark. It performs just as well in a dimly lit room. The projector’s color accuracy (and decent blacks) are very good for a portable projector.
Compared to other portable projectors that I have tested, the Nebula Solar Portable has similar features to the BenQ GS50, but with only 400 ANSI lumens and 1080p picture resolution.
The outdoorsy design of the GS50 and its multi-pocket carrying case makes it a more appealing portable outdoor projector for camping, traveling or watching a movie in the backyard.
The BenQ GS50 is powered by a DLP projection system and LED light source. The lamp life is rated at 20,000 hours of normal use, and 30,000 in Eco mode.
The GS50 can connect to both 2.4Ghz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands. The Wi-Fi pairs with your internet connection during the setup process. Four buttons on the top of the projector control power, volume and Bluetooth connectivity.
The GS50 can double as a portable speaker that you can pair with a smartphone for music.
There is a streaming dongle tucked away in a compartment at the top of the projector. You need to plug in the dongle before using it. The hood for the compartment is difficult to close once you open it.
BenQ’s streaming stick plugs into a HDMI port. The dongle uses an Amlogic S905Y2, the same processor as the Walmart onn 4K streaming box. It’s a similar processor to the Google Chromecast 4K.
You are not tied to just using the included streaming Android TV dongle. There are four ports on the side of the projector for HDMI input (HDCP 2.2), USB-A 2.0 and USB-C.
The USB-C port has DisplayPort functionality. You can plug another streaming device such as a Roku or Fire TV Stick into the HDMI port. The USB port will let you access your own home media on a flash drive or hard drive.
A 3.5” audio output jack lets you connect headphones or speakers.
- Brightness: 500 ANSI lumens
- Native Resolution: 1080P (1920×1080)
- Native Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Contrast Ratio: (FOFO) 100,000:1
- Display Color: 24-bit (16.7 million colors)
- Light Source: LED
- Light Source: Life a. Normal 20000 hrs ,b. ECO 30000 hrs
- Zoom Ratio: Fixed
- Lens: Fixed
- Input Lag: 22.7ms (1080p 60hz)
- Resolution Support: VGA (640 x 480) to 4K UHD (3840 x 2160)
- Speaker: 5W x 2 (2.1 Channel Bluetooth speaker)
- Woofer: 10W Chamber
- Net Weight: 5.07lb
- Built-in OS: Android 10.0
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.2
- Wi-Fi Standard: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4G/5G)
Design, setup and performance
The projector has a quick-release button on the bottom front that kicks out a 1.5-inch foot. The foot is adjustable so you don’t need to use the maximum angle, which is 14.5 degrees.
At the bottom of the projector, there is also a universal tripod fitting if you don’t want to use the foot. After trying out a couple of different setups outdoors, I found that a short Joby tripod gave me more control over getting the best angle onto my outdoor screen at a distance of about ten feet.
DEAL: Buy BenQ GS50 at the U.S. online BenQ shop and get a free outdoor projector screen (a $200 value) for your home cinema setup. Offers lasts between November 1st and November 30, 2022.
Android TV software
The projector’s streaming stick runs on Android TV 10. The operating system supports most of the major streaming apps, including Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus and Hulu.
During my two weeks of testing, I loaded up on apps, including Pluto TV, Sling TV, Criterion Channel, HBO Max and Showtime. I even watched some over-the-air channels through HDHomeRun. The projector has built-in Chromecast, so you can also cast most apps from a smartphone or tablet.
Android TV is overall easy to use, and Google Assistant is decent system for tracking down favorite movies or shows across a variety of streaming services.
Unfortunately, the GS50 suffers a common issue with portable projectors – no native support of Netflix.
BenQ has developed a workaround so that you can download a mobile version of Netflix through an third-party mobile platform called Aptoide.
The process is cumbersome, and you will need to use the BenQ mobile app to control Netflix. My preference is to just grab another streaming device, and plug it into the side of the projector when I want to watch Netflix.
The remote control for the BenQ GS50 is one of the best I have seen on a portable projector. In my testing of various brands of mini projectors, the power button isn’t always as responsive as it should be.
That’s not the case with the GS50’s remote. It’s responsive and quickly powers the projector on and off. The remote control measures about 1.75 inches wide, and its rounded edges feel good in the hand.
The top row has buttons for power, auto focus and keystone correction. You can change inputs. There is a quick launch button for Amazon Prime Video.
Google Assistant lets you use voice commands to track down a favorite movie, or pull up a selection of movies from a favorite actor or director.
The GS50 produces an overall good image for live TV, movies and sports. The autofocus and keystone correction kicks in as soon as you power on the projector. The keystone correction button lets you make horizontal and vertical adjustments if needed.
There were a few settings that I adjusted before finding just the right color and brightness.
The Power mode should be set on “Normal” when the projector is plugged in to get the optimal brightness. You can use Normal mode just on battery power, but it will run the battery down faster.
There are seven picture mode settings.
The two that had the best balance of color and saturation (to my eye, at least) were “Sports” and “Campfire” mode. The others looked either too bright or washed out for my taste. The Sports mode was my favorite because colors popped the most, and blacks were the most accurate out of the bunch.
I measured the picture and color accuracy by comparing it to a brighter portable projector, the XGIMI Halo+, which has 900 ANSI lumens.
The overall sound quality on the BenQ GS50 is remarkably good.
A 10-watt subwoofer and two 5-watt speakers inside the projector gives you a full, rich sound.
The audio quality is really noticeable when you are using the Bluetooth connection to play music. I paired the GS50 to the Amazon Music app on my smartphone and listened to a John Beasley tune.
There are five audio modes you can choose from, but the “Music” mode has the richest and most stable sound.
The volume goes from zero to 50, but only the “Music” mode can reach about 50 without breaking up. I don’t think you would want to max out the audio. But you will need more volume when playing the projector outdoors compared to indoors.
The fan noise is a little more noticeable to me than I prefer when the projector is playing at “normal” power mode. It’s less noticeable when you are playing the projector outdoors. But in a 12 by 12 foot room, you will hear it if you are sitting within a few feet of the projector.
The battery is rated by BenQ as lasting 2.5 hours in low power mode. Using low-power mode gives you a dimmer image. That may not be an issue if you are watching a movie in a completely dark room.
As it stands now, if you switch power mode to “Normal” (the brightest setting), the fan will kick in and start turning faster and get a little louder.
Overall, the BenQ GS50 is a reliable outdoor portable projector that has nice color and brightness with full HD resolution. The GS50 has great audio. The sound is full, and the remote control is easy to use.
The GS50 makes the outdoor cinema experience fairly easy, even if you are not a tech-inclined person. Out of all the portable projectors that I have tested, I appreciated how BenQ focused on its design for outdoor use. Anyone looking for a portable projector for outdoor use should put the GS50 on its short list.
|Unique design for outdoor use|
|Feature-rich remote control|
|Noticeable fan noise *|
|No native Netflix support|
Where to buy BenQ GS50
You can buy the BenQ GS50 from a number of online retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, and the BenQ website.
Other projectors I have tested and reviewed
I have been testing and reviewing portable projectors since 2018. Here are other portable projectors that have undergone the same rigorous testing.
- XGIMI Halo+
- XGIMI Halo
- AAXA P6X
- Nebula Capsule II
- Nebula Capsule Max
- Nebula Solar Portable
- BenQ GV1
- Nebula Mars II
This article was originally published on November 1, 2022. The free projector screen offer has been added.
Founder and Editor of The Cord Cutting Report. Before launching the site in 2016, he worked for more than two decades as a staff writer or correspondent for a number of daily newspapers, including The Boston Globe. His enthusiasm for tech began with the Atari 2600. Follow @james_kimble