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Anker Nebula Capsule II, hands on: A portable 720p mini-projector with integrated speaker

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  • Editors' rating
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  • $579.99

Projection can be an irritation for regular business presenters. When it works well, it's a dream, but too often, hiccups and glitches get in the way. As a result, some people prefer to carry their own equipment rather than rely on what they might find at their destination.

The Nebula Capsule II is the latest iteration of the portable projector from Nebula, an Anker brand. In the US you can buy the Capsule II off the page from Anker/Nebula for $579.99, but choices are more limited in the UK: Selfridges is currently the only official UK stockist, where it will cost you £499 (inc. VAT).

The Nebula Capsule II weighs 680g (24 ounces), so it's no lightweight, and it stands 15cm tall with a diameter of 8cm -- about the size of a can of drink. It'll need some sort of carry case, not least to protect the lens from scratches, but unfortunately no case is provided. You might also want to carry the power charger: the 9700mAh battery is rated for three hours of video playback, but I ran the battery down completely from a full charge three times during testing and got closer to 2.5 hours for video playback each time. If you switch over into smart speaker mode, the Nebula Capsule II is rated for 30 hours.

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The Nebula Capsule II combines the functions of mini-projector and Bluetooth speaker, with Android TV built in.

Images: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

The industrial design is neat and tidy, with a pocked surface that disguises the speaker grilles and lends a tactile finish. On the bottom there is a tripod socket in case you need to mount the Capsule II, and on the top there are some touch controls for navigation and volume management. 

There's a handset with additional controls, including for Android TV Home and Google Assistant. You can also control the speaker by voice or download an Android or iOS app to control it from your phone. 

SEE: How to optimize the smart office (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

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Around the back there is a mode switch so you can toggle between projector and Bluetooth speaker modes, and along the bottom there's a row of four connectors: USB-C for charging, standard USB, audio-out for connecting more powerful speakers, and HDMI.

The projector's 200 ANSI lumen specification means brightness is good enough to deliver watchable content even during daylight with room lights off. In the evening, with lights dimmed, it did a good job of casting a movie or TV show onto a wall. Image size runs from 20 inches to 100 inches across the diagonal, although at the largest sizes the 720p resolution starts to show its limitations. 

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Projected image from a smartphone via a Wi-Fi connection.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

The autofocus is really helpful making it quite easy to move the Capsule II around until you find the most appropriate location for it in an office, hotel room, or wherever. I found the autofocus didn't always kick in, but moving the Capsule II around a bit tended to wake it up.

I used the Capsule II for casting the contents of my handset for presentations, and it worked a treat. For after-hours use it runs Android TV 9, which means there is access to a wide range of apps -- 3,600 of them in fact. There are catch-up TV apps, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Spotify and a range of other popular choices. It's easy enough to move around within the app, the screen layout is neat and intuitive. 

Amazon TV also includes a range of games, and here the experience is less positive. As with the tedium of using the control brick to hunt and peck at letters for signing into Google, games can be a rather painful experience.

Gaming aside, there's a lot to like about the Anker Nebula Capsule II: image quality is decent -- it works well for casting handset content for work presentations, and delivers watchable entertainment content too. The speaker is boomy, bassy and loud. It's relatively expensive, though, and battery life could be better -- I'd like to be able to do some binge-watching without having to find the mains, for example. Still, let's hope the Anker Nebula Capsule II gets wider UK distribution.

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Where To Buy

Nebula Capsule II

Part Number: AK-848061024418