Ne­bula Capsule

FOR De­cent pic­ture; solid sound; neat de­sign AGAINST Short on apps; poor dark de­tail; con­nec­tions

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

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.

Mod­est specs

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”

Solid sound

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

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