Anker’s original Nebula Capsule ushered in a sea change in the nascent portable projector market. There, in a package the size of a soda can, was a fully integrated portable theater, complete with Wi-Fi, apps, good-enough audio, and most importantly of all, a battery that could last through an entire movie. But to get there, Anker had to make several compromises, nearly all of which have been addressed in the new Nebula Capsule II.
Whether you owned the original Capsule, or are buying your first portable projector, the Capsule II’s picture quality impresses. Its resolution has been bumped to 720p from the original’s 480p, bit more importantly, it boasts a bulb that’s twice as bright. As a result, the image looks fantastic in a dark room, and is actually pretty usable even with the lights on, assuming the Capsule isn’t positioned too far from the wall.
The Capsule II also brings the welcome addition of autofocus and automatic keystone correction, and both tended to kick in within a second or two of moving the projector, in my experience.
With these improvements, the Capsule II has aspirations beyond being an outdoor movie night novelty: it’s now good enough to serve as a kind of portable TV that you can take with you from a well-lit kitchen, to the laundry room, to the garage. I frequently use my iPad in the kitchen to watch Netflix while I cook, but with the Capsule, I can beam a 40" picture onto the wall next to the counter, even with all the lights on.
That improved picture is augmented by an 8W speaker that’s much louder and fuller sounding that the original’s 5W offering. A button on the back even turns off the projector bulb, and converts the Capsule II into the world’s most overpriced portable Bluetooth speaker as well.
The Capsule II has also made tremendous strides in the software department, and is actually the first portable projector certified by Google to run the official Android TV interface. That means it has access to hundreds of streaming apps through the Google Play ecosystem, in addition to Chromecast support for streaming videos from your phone, and a microphone-equipped remote with Google Assistant support. The old model had access to a handful of apps through its third party store, but the experience was janky at best.
Unfortunately, the Capsule II doesn’t support AirPlay like its predecessor, but most major iOS streaming apps support Chromecast these days, so it’s not a huge loss, especially since you can run most popular streaming apps on the projector itself. And of course, a built-in HDMI port (plus a USB port for power) means you can still plug in whatever streaming dongle or game console you’d like, if you want to bypass the software entirely.
Battery life dipped a bit to 2.5-3 hours from the original’s four, but that’s still enough to get you through just about any movie this side of Endgame, and since it now supports USB-C Power Delivery, you could easily power it from an battery pack or charger to extend your runtime.
All these improvements aren’t without costs, unfortunately. While the original Capsule was famously the same size as a soda can, Anker cheekily refers to the Capsule II as “pint sized,” as in, the size of a pint glass. It’s still portable, but it is a fair bit larger than the original.
Its $580 MSRP is also nearly twice as expensive as the original Capsule out of the gate. Anker plans to keep selling both models side by side, so the Capsule II is less a sequel, and more a new, higher end entry in the product line.
Is it worth the cost though? I think that if you have a few rooms in your house where you would occasionally like a TV, but don’t have space or the inclination to buy one, you could certainly get plenty of value out of the Capsule II as a kind of on-demand big screen that you can move around the house. If you want to host any outdoor movie nights or sports viewing parties, that’s just icing on the cake.
It’s not a product that anyone needs, obviously, but it’s basically the platonic ideal of what this sort of portable projector can be, and in my opinion, more than justifies the price increase over the original.