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Lifewire / Hayley Prokos
Android 9 OS with 3,600 TV apps
High definition imaging
Voice-activated with Google Assistant
Less battery power than Nebula Capsule I
Almost completely Wi-Fi dependent
Perfect for those looking for a portable projector with lots of bells and whistles.
With so much success surrounding the crowdfunding for the Anker Nebula Capsule last year (the company successfully crowdfunded an all-in-one mini projector with the same dimensions as a can of soda), Anker apparently got straight to work on the launch of its successor. The Nebula Capsule II projector was launched shortly thereafter, and hit the market in early 2019.
This second model still runs on Android OS and now features higher-resolution, brighter output (at 720p and 200 ANSI lumens respectively), a more powerful 8-Watt speaker, and the integration of Google Assistant.
Aside from its predecessor, the Anker Nebula Capsule, we haven’t seen another projector constructed quite like the Nebula Capsule II. Measuring approximately 6 inches tall with a diameter of 3.25 inches, it’s a cinch to transport in a bag, purse, or backpack. It’s just over a pound and a half and seems durable enough to throw casually into a bag (though there’s the risk of scratching the glass over the recessed lens through particularly rough use).
The 360-degree, 5-Watt speaker that engulfed the entire bottom half of the Nebula Capsule has morphed into a 270-degree, 8-Watt speaker in the Capsule II.
It also has a sleek yet utilitarian and rugged design that makes it easy to transport, unlike other projectors we’ve tested.
On the top, you’ll find the volume up and down buttons, the confirmation button, the return button and the navigation buttons. At the bottom, you’ll find four ports: an audio jack meant for headphones or powered external speakers and an HDMI input for connecting with a computer, Blu-ray player, PS4/Xbox One/Nintendo Switch, or other data or video source. There’s also a USB-A port to accommodate a thumb drive or mouse/keyboard and a USB-C port for charging.
Setup is fast and easy, as the Nebula Capsule II comes loaded with a remote, a set of batteries, a quick start guide, an Anker power delivery charger, and a USB-C Cable. The remote is required to use the Google Assistant feature.
If connected to Wi-Fi, you’ll want to update the firmware, which is done from the Settings page. Also, make sure you’re up-to-date on Android TV. Navigation of the Android interface is easy using either the included infrared remote control or the optional Nebula Connect app. We didn’t have any issues installing and connecting the app over Bluetooth.
The quick start guide offers help for installation, but learning to navigate the intricacies of this projector comes mainly from using and experimenting with its panoply of features or checking out the full user manual online.
The Nebula Capsule II has both an autofocus function and automatic vertical keystone correction, which makes it easy to focus and align an image. Resolution is capped at 720p which isn’t ideal, but 1080p and 4K projectors at this price point simply don’t exist.
As far as brightness and color, the device has 200 ANSI lumens, which makes all of the colors more vibrant. It also supports HDMI 1.4 up to 1080p input, but ultimately that doesn’t matter a great deal, because 1080p inputs will be downscaled to 720p. Also, while 200 ANSI lumens is very good for a projector this size, it doesn’t perform well in moderately or well-lit spaces.
The Nebula Capsule II will project up to a 100” picture on a wall or screen. When testing the image quality at multiple throw distances the Capsule II scaled the image well. The autofocus also does a good job of refocusing the picture when you reposition the projector.
A great selling point of the Nebula Capsule II is its built-in speaker, which is far better than most projectors and an improvement from its predecessor. The 8-Watt, 270-degree speaker takes up less real estate on the Nebula Capsule II than the 5-Watt, 360-degree speaker did on the Nebula Capsule, and those extra 3 Watts help to fill a room.
Meanwhile, the fan on the Capsule II is whisper quiet at less than 30dB. While it’s somewhat noticeable, it’s far from disruptive. While the sound overall doesn’t compare to a dedicated external speaker, it’s solid for this compact design and price point.
Android TV on the Anker Nebula Capsule II allows you to play movies without your phone or your laptop, and a built-in Chromecast allows you to stream. You may also project files from a flash drive.
The only thing that’s significantly downgraded is the battery life, from four hours on the Nebula Capsule I to only two and a half on the Capsule II.
Connecting your phone wirelessly is another highlight that competitors like the Acer C202i don’t offer. There are a multitude of ways to watch, via physical connections like HDMI and USB or wirelessly over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Chromecast. There are 3,600 apps that are compatible with the Nebula Capsule II. The Android OS, particularly the (optional) Bluetooth connected smartphone app for remote control, makes the Nebula Capsule II feel state-of-the-art.
The Nebula Capsule II comes with a remote, or you can opt to use the smartphone app (though the included remote is required to use Google Assistant). If all else fails, you can resort to the very basic volume up and down buttons, the confirmation button, the return button, and the navigation buttons atop the cylinder.
With many handheld portable projectors retailing for $200-$350, the Anker Nebula Capsule II is one of the more expensive portable mini projectors you can buy at $580 on Amazon. That’s a whopping $280 more than its predecessor, the Anker Nebula Capsule, which sells for $299 on Amazon.
The Nebula Capsule II does, however, include many modern features and upgrades, like Chromecast functionality and Google Assistant. It also has a sleek yet utilitarian and rugged design that makes it easy to transport, unlike other projectors we’ve tested. We believe these qualities are reflected in the higher price point.
This is an upgrade from the Nebula I almost across the board, barring a few unfortunate downgrades. In this recent model, the Chromecast feature is new and more user-friendly, and replaces the screencasting of last year’s model, which had limited compatibility and excluded some mobile devices.
Moreover, the Nebula Capsule I was designed with a manual focus, so depending on how many feet away from the wall the Capsule I is, you have to focus it to clear up the picture. The Nebula Capsule II has autofocus, which eliminates some of the manual adjusting. Anker also doubled the lumens for this new edition, and the Nebula Capsule I wasn’t HD.
The only thing that’s significantly downgraded is the battery life, from four hours on the Nebula Capsule I to only two and a half on the Capsule II. That said, the Capsule II feels ultra-modern, more cleverly designed, and better-equipped. You can also feel the difference, holding it in your hands, in materials used and functionality. Put simply, you get what you pay for with this model.
Check out our other reviews of the best mini projectors on the market today.
This is a premium portable projector that’s full of user-friendly features.
The Anker Nebula Capsule II is a best-in-class mini projector—worth every penny for those who care about image quality, sound and portability. It offers one of the most complete packages on the market, like an intuitive menu interface, painless wireless connections, remote app and more, all while providing four hours of crisp, clear image projection.