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BenQ i500 LED Smart Short-Throw Projector (MSRP $ 749.99)
Providing Classroom Resources on New & Emerging Technologies
I see the BenQ i500 LED Smart Projector as the perfect easy to carry (2.87 lbs) bright projector (500 Lumens) for teachers and professionals to carry with them when they travel to give a presentation in a small to medium size venue. BenQ wanted to create a projector that could do more than that so they designed this machine for home or road warrior use. Photo 1.
How would you use it in your home? The best way to answer that is to say that the i500 is a WiFi enabled Android tablet without a built-in viewing screen. Your screen becomes any blank wall in your home. See photo 2. On that wall, without a computer or smartphone attached, you can run all kinds of apps, watch movies, and even play games. The fact that it is WiFi enabled, has built in speakers, produces HD quality images, and it also has a fast refresh rate will allow you to watch YouTube, Netflix, Hulu or just about anything else that you can access using a smart TV or Smartphone. They say all you need is a WiFi connection, but I needed to use my computer or smartphone since I was not able to download the appropriate apps. It could be the BenQ marketplace was down when I did my testing. See my Not so Cool remarks at the end of the review. In stand alone mode I was able to perform setup tasks using my wireless mouse plugged into one of the i500 two USB ports.You can boast to your friends that your viewing screen is the largest blank wall in your home.
You can also wirelessly stream from your Android smartphone using the Miracast smartphone app or stream from your iPhone using the iPhone dongle. You can hookup your computer using a VGA or HDMI cable or transfer what you want to show to a memory stick and then directly plug the memory stick into this projector’s USB port for viewing.
The BenQ i500 is a Short-Throw projector so it uses a special aspherical lens that can deliver very large projections even though it is placed extremely close to a screen or wall. This is extremely important when it is used in your home. If you setup the projector a mere 39 inches from your wall you can project an 80 inch image. It has a built in Keystone alignment system so even though it is extremely close to the projection screen your images will not look distorted. See photo 2 again.
Reasons to Drool
The BenQ i500 at a very short distance from the viewing screen projects an extremely bright HD picture that can be easily viewed with the lights on. It has built in speakers and a place to plug in your own microphone so it can be an effective projector when giving a presentation in a small lecture hall. To make it more useful in the home BenQ also gave it a separate Bluetooth speaker button so it is always ready to broadcast your music when you are not using it as a projector. See photo 3.
Not so Cool
The internal speaker system could not be pumped up loud enough for you to use it as your presentation public address system in a medium to large venue. I tried a few times to download the BenQ app marketplace to gain direct access to YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix without attaching the projector to my computer and each attempt failed. I would have expected that YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and also the marketplace app would already be included in the projectors operating system. They weren’t!