An outstanding portable projector. It's expensive, but it smashes the competition, and it's super simple to use. This is the best portable projector around.
Anker look set to crush the competition with their latest portable projector. The Nebula Capsule 2 takes everything good about previous models and then throws in a whole load of upgrades. Here’s what we think of this pint-sized pocket projector.
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- 1-second autofocus
- 100-inch screen size
- 200 ANSI Lumens
- 720p resolution
- Android TV 9.0
- Full-size HDMI input, USB Type-A input, 1/4 inch aux output
- Google Assistant
- USB Type-C power delivery
Features and Design
Costing $580, and described as the “World’s First Android TV Pocket Cinema”, the Nebula Capsule 2 runs on Android TV 9.0. It’s fast and easy to use. This projector outputs a 1280×720 pixel (720p) image at up to 100 inches. It uses DLP technology to output 200 ANSI Lumens of brightness. It has a built-in battery capable of running the projector for up to 2.5 hours at maximum brightness (more at lower brightness levels), and a single 8W speaker handles audio.
Over 3,600 native apps are available, but you can also sideload Android APKs through the USB port with a simple flash drive.
Measuring 5.75 inches tall, with a diameter of 3 inches, and weighing 1.6 lbs, this projector is significantly larger than its predecessor. It’s roughly the same size as an Amazon Echo. The front of the unit houses the lens and laser focusing unit. There are no manual focus wheels, although you can manually adjust the focus through the software if you’d like to. On the back, you’ll find the power button and Bluetooth speaker mode switch.
At the bottom are the optional ports. It’s perfectly possible to use Android TV over Wi-Fi, and never connect any cables. If you need to, the full-size HDMI port, USB Type-A, USB Type-C, and 1/4 inch aux output. The USB Type-C port is only used for charging, but it supports Power Delivery (PD) and can charge in less than three hours with the included fast charger.
On the top, you’ll find a series of light-up buttons. These work ok for basic needs, but you’ll want to use the included remote controller for the majority of configuration. You don’t need a lens cap as the lens and laser focus has a transparent plastic cover, which is inset into the rounded body.
Capsule 2 supports Chromecast if you’d rather not use Android TV. Take a look at our Chromecast vs Android TV comparison if you’re not sure of the differences. As a last resort, you can always connect wireless streaming devices to the HDMI port. It supports up to a 4k input signal, which it down-converts to 720p.
Image Quality and Brightness
The Capsule 2 image quality is fantastic! The one-second autofocus helps here, and it makes setup a breeze. With other small projectors (including the previous generation Capsule), getting pin-sharp focus is difficult, and once you’ve set it, the slightest of movements or knocks change it, and you have to start again. This is not the case here. Somehow, Anker has managed to cram this outstanding autofocus technology into the tiny case of the projector. It genuinely works very well and focuses the projector in less than a second as claimed.
Intelligent keystone correction is another excellent feature. Any projector placed at an angle to the screen produces a keystone effect. This is where a trapezoid distortion happens to the projected image. The ability to automatically correct this is almost magical and makes using this projector a really simple process.
While it’s not the sharpest projector around, mostly due to the 720p resolution, it’s very good and significantly better than many of its rivals. A high-quality projector screen helps to improve the quality, but even projecting onto a plain white wall produces reasonable results.
As for the brightness, 200 ANSI Lumens is an improvement over the previous model. This is bright enough to clearly see in a dimly lit room. Turn any bright lights on, or let in the dazzling midday sunlight, and you’ll struggle to see the image. This is a problem for many if not all portable projectors, but generally, it’s very bright given the correct conditions. When compared to other budget travel projectors, Capsule 2 is dazzling. Cheap projectors often quote a figure of “100 Lumens”, with no regard for ANSI lumens—the standardized brightness measurement. A projector capable of producing 200 genuine ANSI lumens is excellent.
Colors look bright and vivid, with plenty of contrast. They begin to look washed out when faced with direct sunlight or other bright light,
Where this projector falls short is when compared to bigger or professional level projectors, capable of producing 2000 – 4000 ANSI lumens. It can’t keep up with something that bright, but it’s not designed to. How many professional projectors can you fit in your coat pocket?
Software Updates, Stability, and Product Support
Generally speaking, Android TV is very stable, but I did experience crashes on more than one occasion. These may not be Anker’s fault, but they were a little unnerving. When entering the password to connect to a Wi-Fi network, the whole projector froze, requiring a manual restart to fix. It did not crash when entering the password for the second time.
The YouTube app also crashed when pressing play on a video. This caused a loud noise like a dial-up modem. After a few seconds, the projector sensed this and restarted itself. After updating the software (which is a simple process), these issues happened less frequently.
Finally, almost all the keyboards implemented are not the standard “QWERTY” layout as you’d expect. They sit in a difficult alphabetical order. Again, this may not be Ankers fault, as the YouTube app also works like this, but it’s still a non-standard irritation.
I have no doubts that Anker will continue to expand and improve on this software platform where possible. The first software update was already available before the unit shipped, and this highlights the enthusiasm and belief Anker have in their product. Besides, Anker’s technical support is outstanding. I have the first-hand experience of their customer care with many of their other products, and so should something happen to your Capsule 2, you’ll have no problems getting Anker to resolve the problem.
Is the Nebula Capsule 2 Worth Your Money?
The Anker Nebula Capsule 2 is the best mini projector we’ve ever reviewed. It’s small, light, bright, and packed full of features. It may not be the cheapest projector around, and it has put on a bit of weight when compared to its older sibling, but it really is leagues apart from the usual (and rather bland) budget battery-powered projectors.
There’s no limit to the devices you can connect to this little powerhouse, be it games consoles over the HDMI port, flash drives with multimedia content, mobile devices over Bluetooth or Chromecast, or any other number of streaming services or apps through Android TV—including games!
The few minor issues we experienced with the software are almost out of Anker’s control. As Android TV belongs to tech giant Google, we’d expect to see many software updates, new features, and bug fixes in the future. These issues are not bad enough to be anything more than a minor inconvenience. The impressive autofocus and auto keystone correction makes such a huge difference to the usability of this little projector.