FOR Decent picture; solid sound; neat design AGAINST Short on apps; poor dark detail; connections
The first smart television – Samsung’s Pavv Bordeaux 750 – was introduced to the world in 2008. Just 10 years later, the majority of TVS, even budget ones, now come with some form of built-in streaming.
Projectors haven’t yet travelled as far down this path – but step forward the Capsule by Nebula, a brand owned by battery manufacturer Anker. A portable projector with a built-in Android-esque app store, the Capsule can also be used as a dedicated Bluetooth speaker.
Paint it silver and it could be mistaken for a soft-drinks can. And at just 425g it isn’t that much heavier either. Instead of a ringpull you’ll find four buttons on the top: two for volume, one for power, one for switching between projector and Bluetooth speaker.
At the bottom are two ports: an HDMI connection and a Microusb input for charging the four-hour battery. Nebula has gambled on the Capsule’s built-in smart functions making up for the lack of connections, but it’s a little disappointing nonetheless, especially given that rival pico projectors, such as the Viewsonic M1, feature Microsd, USB A, and USB C ports.
Using the projector is a breeze, either through the physical remote or the Android and IOS app. Other projectors have had us twisting and turning, trying to get the remote into the line of fire, so it’s nice to let wireless connections do the work.
The Capsule's smart platform is an Android 7.1 affair and apps are downloaded from Aptoide – a marketplace that runs on the Android operating system, like the Google Play Store, but doesn’t have the full range of apps available. So while Netflix, Youtube, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iplayer are available to download, All 4, Now TV, or Sky Go (among others) aren’t. The Capsule does allow you to stream video from Apple’s smartphones and tablets through its Airplay connection and has Miracast for Microsoft devices. There's Chromecast connectivity, but the Android operating system means it can only send video, not receive it. This is a definite black mark against the Capsule’s name; no one wants to cast from a projector.
The Capsule’s specs are somewhat underwhelming: a resolution of 854 x 480 pixels, while par-for-the-course for miniature projectors, means it will always be either downscaling for Blu-rays or upscaling for DVDS. A brightness of 100 lumens also puts it behind the likes of the LG Minibeam PH150G or the Viewsonic M1. Whether streaming from Netflix, Amazon Prime or Youtube, the Capsule presents a decent picture that rivals other pico projectors. However, it also costs more than £100 more than those competitors because of its smart capabilities.
Handling of colour and skin tone is more natural than with the likes of the Viewsonic M1 (if a little more muted). There’s an adequate amount of detail but, watching The Amazing Spider-man on Blu-ray, it’s difficult to get a sense of texture to Spidey’s suit or the full effect of the whisps of smoke that rise as he fires off webbing.
And while it works well during bright scenes, it’s difficult to make out any real detail when our hero braves the darkness, as background and foreground merge. In the real world, meanwhile, switch on a light and the picture almost disappears – this is a projector to be used in complete darkness.
Motion is acceptable (there is a little blur as Spider-man web-swings across the city), but the Capsule has a noisier image than we would expect, with small amounts of grain occasionally appearing across the picture.
“Paint it silver and it could be mistaken for a so drinks can. And it isn’t much heavier either”
Whether it's as a projector or a Bluetooth speaker, the Capsule puts across a decent sonic performance. You won’t get the same sound as you would from a dedicated speaker such as the five-star Ultimate Ears Wonderboom (£60), but there's enough volume to satisfyingly ll our medium-sized testing room and a solid handling of detail.
The Capsule’s Bluetooth capabilities mean it can be paired to more impressive speakers for a better sound quality, but we’d still like a 3.5mm output port for wired connections and headphones.
Those looking for something a little bit different, portable and easy to use, and who don’t mind missing out on the best picture quality will enjoy the Capsule. But home cinema fans might be left wanting a better picture and fully fledged streaming smarts.
Video streaming options include Airplay and Miracast
We favour the app but the remote works well too