Anker Nebula Photo voltaic Moveable projector: Extra white dwarf than supernova

The Anker Nebula Photo voltaic Moveable is a 1080p projector with a built-in battery and Android TV. It is a full package deal that permits you to take pleasure in motion pictures and TV with an enormous picture nearly wherever. You’ll be able to even use it as a Bluetooth speaker. If this sounds vaguely acquainted, it is as a result of it is much like one other Nebula projector, the Mars II Professional, which we reviewed a number of months in the past. The Mars II Professional is our favourite moveable projector total and whereas the Photo voltaic has its (ahem) vibrant spots, it is simply not nearly as good.

LikeSleek, compact design1080p resolutionBuilt-in battery lasts Three hours

Do not LikeFairly dimMediocre contrastAndroid TV is wonky

On paper, the Photo voltaic Moveable addresses two of the problems we had with the Mars II Professional: decision and its app retailer. The II Professional is simply 720p, and makes use of a “curated” Google expertise referred to as Aptoide. Sadly, fixing these two issues comes with decreased mild output. No projector this dimension is especially vibrant, however the Photo voltaic is about 40% dimmer than the Mars II. Android TV beats Aptoide, nevertheless it nonetheless has some quirks that imply you is perhaps higher off attaching a streaming stick anyway. Sure, that flat design is exclusive, however Anker’s personal Mars II Professional is a more sensible choice.

Little Anker Nebula Photo voltaic Moveable projector, massive footage
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Fundamental specsNative decision: 1,920×1,080 pixelsHDR-compatible: Yes4K-compatible: Yes3D-compatible: NoLumens spec: 400 ANSIZoom: NoLens shift: NoLamp life (Regular mode): 30,000 hours

The Photo voltaic accepts HDR10, however just isn’t HDR. It accepts 4K, however just isn’t a 4K projector. Since this projector is incapable of truly displaying these higher-resolution and high-dynamic-range alerts, their inclusion appears extra like one thing to beef up a options listing on a web site than anything.

There is no lens shift or zoom on the Photo voltaic, however neither is predicted on this worth vary. There’s autofocus, nevertheless, which works fairly properly. A pivoting foot on the underside tilts the entrance of the projector upward for a bit extra flexibility in placement.

There is a claimed three hours of life from the 20,000-mAh battery. It is a bit odd because the brighter Mars II Professional has a smaller battery and but the identical quantity of play time.

Talking of brightness, Anker claims 400 lumens. I measured about half that. The Mars II Professional had a claimed 500, and I measured over 300. No projector on this dimension and worth vary could be very vibrant, however aspect by aspect the Mars II Professional’s image seems to be considerably brighter, which permits it to look higher on greater screens.

You should utilize the Photo voltaic as a Bluetooth speaker. The 2 3-watt audio system sound fairly good, which is all the time a bonus in a conveyable projector. They are not as loud because the Mars II Professional’s twin 10-watters, nevertheless.

If you wish to obtain some content material to look at offline, there’s 8GB storage.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
Connectivity and convenienceHDMI inputs: 1PC enter: NoUSB ports: 2Audio enter and output: NoDigital audio output: NoWi-Fi: 802.11a, b, g, n, ac12-volt set off: NoRS-232 distant port: NoMHL: NoRemote: Not backlit

The Photo voltaic’s HDMI enter is able to accepting HDR and 4K, however because the projector is neither, it is a six-line freeway connecting two small cities with no automobiles.

The USB-C connection is for charging, and included with the Photo voltaic is a fast-charger you would use in your telephone or pill once you’re not utilizing or charging the projector. The opposite USB connection can settle for information or cost a streaming stick. The ability score is not specified, however I used to be in a position to get a streaming stick operating on it, so it ought to be sufficient.

I just like the Android TV app retailer however sadly some apps, like Vudu, would solely ship the standard-definition variations of their content material. That is disappointing, to say the least. It makes the decision of the projector much less related. Others, like Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu appeared effective, nevertheless. 

Then there’s Netflix, which requires a number of steps to get put in on the Photo voltaic. You have to set up the Nebula Supervisor app, which then means that you can obtain the cellular model of the Netflix app. To observe Netflix after you put in it, it’s essential to go to the Supervisor app after which Netflix. Which, even in spite of everything these steps, seems to be exceptionally tender. As a result of it is the cellular model, it additionally means it isn’t designed to work with a standard distant, so it’s essential to use the Nebula Join app in your telephone to navigate. 

These points spoil the goodness of built-in Android TV to a sure extent, however as I discussed a simple answer is attaching an exterior streamer. 

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
Image high quality comparisons

The Mars II Professional and the PH30N are each direct opponents to the Photo voltaic. To match the three I ended up utilizing a mixture of inner apps, exterior streaming sticks and a Monoprice 1×4 distribution amplifier as a result of completely different resolutions of the projectors, and the truth that the Photo voltaic accepts 4K (and for some irritating cause that turned the default when linked to the Monoprice). I considered all the things on a 102-inch 1.0-gain display.

The obvious distinction was mild output. The Mars II Professional was simply the brightest, adopted by the Photo voltaic and the LG. Brightness just isn’t the one vital consider a projector’s picture high quality nevertheless it’s an enormous half. Not solely does it decide how compelling the picture is total, nevertheless it additionally determines how massive a picture you may create that is nonetheless watchable. This is likely one of the causes I favored the Mars II Professional: It is very vibrant for its dimension and worth. The Photo voltaic’s image seems to be dim compared, and the LG’s is the dimmest of the three. 

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Distinction ratio is poor throughout the board in contrast with one thing just like the BenQ HT2050, however that is par for the course. No cheap projector has distinction ratio. The Photo voltaic is technically higher than the Mars II right here, at 407:1 in contrast with 354:1, however that is too near see even aspect by aspect and is barely exterior the vary of regular measurement error. This low distinction ratio is ok on the Mars II, because it’s comparatively vibrant, however on the Photo voltaic it means the picture is flat. Not absolutely washed out, nevertheless it would not impress both. The LG is decrease nonetheless, however once more, it is all in the identical ballpark.

With the added distraction of its undefeatable cleaning soap opera impact, I put the LG apart and targeting the 2 Ankers.

Fan noise on the Photo voltaic is way quieter than the Mars II, which is welcome once you’re sitting shut.

Whereas I welcome the change to Android TV over the troublesome Aptoide retailer, there is a obvious difficulty: HD. With some apps the content material you get is SD-only. So what then is the purpose of the Photo voltaic’s 1080p decision? This may very well be an Android/Google difficulty, nevertheless it would not actually matter the place the issue is, the result’s that the best strategy to get content material on the projector means taking a success in image high quality. 

Utilizing an exterior streaming stick the additional element is obvious. After you flip down the sharpness management, that’s, which is about extraordinarily excessive out of the field (as standard, huge quantities of edge enhancement masks precise element). Now it is the Mars II Professional’s flip to look tender, missing effective element on issues like hair and beards. Nevertheless, the Photo voltaic’s larger decision, even when configured appropriately, just isn’t sufficient to win out over the Mars II Professional’s higher brightness.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The adage goes “Two steps ahead, one step again.” On this case, it is extra like two steps ahead, two barely smaller steps again. With their enormous photographs, projectors definitely see a giant profit from larger decision, so the Photo voltaic’s 1080p ought to be an apparent enchancment over the Mars II Professional’s 720p. However with SD inner apps, that enchancment is negated. Worse, the decrease brightness means its picture is way much less compelling. The larger battery appears good on paper, however claimed viewing time is roughly the identical. Even the Photo voltaic’s audio system are much less highly effective.

All that, mixed with the next MSRP, and I am unsure what the Photo voltaic has to supply over the Mars II Professional. That projector is a bit gem, and the Photo voltaic is left to play catch-up.

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