Anker Nebula Capsule 3 Laser Review
A laser-powered projector that can go anywhere.
Small and easy to carry around, the Anker Nebula Capsule 3 Laser is a great little projector for taking movies on the go. It’s loud and its laser backlight does a good job of resolving detail, handling shadows well while producing rich colours, provided the display area is dark enough. The lack of a proper Android TV version of Netflix is a little disappointing, and this projector is quite expensive. If physical size and the battery are the two most important factors, this projector is a good choice.
- Bold colours
- Powerful audio
- Small size
- Side-loading Netflix doesn’t work very well
- UKRRP: £797.99
- Full HD pictureUses XPR technology to upscale the DLP DMD chip to 1920 x 1080.
- Media streamingAmazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, Paramount+ and NOW installed; Netflix can be sideloaded.
- SoundAn 8W Dolby Digital speaker provides enough sound power to fill a room.
While smart projectors seem to be getting brighter and bigger with each new version, the Anker Nebula Capsule 3 Laser is something of a return to the good old days: a projector little bigger than a can of beer that can go everywhere.
Its laser backlight is something I’ve not seen on such a small projector, helping with colour intensity and shadow detail. It’s not cheap, and there are brighter projectors for the same amount of cash, but if you want a very portable projector, this one is a good choice.
- Weighs just 950g
- HDMI output
- Small size
The Anker Nebula Capsule 3 Laser is refreshingly small. It’s not much bigger than a large can of beer. While its 950g weight is more than an equivalent can, it’s not much for a projector and it’s easy to throw the Capsule 3 into a bag and carry it everywhere you want.
It’s a shame that there’s no carry case for this projector. I’d get a bag, at least, to prevent the glass lens cover from getting scratched on a day out.
Although the projector runs Android TV internally, and therefore has smart apps, there’s a HDMI port at the rear that can take up to a 4K input signal, and it supports HDMI eARC if you want to send audio to a compatible soundbar.
There’s a single USB-C port, which provides power and, if required, offline storage. If you want to provide power and use offline storage at the same time, Anker recommends using a hub with a 60W charger; the projector itself requires just a 45W power adaptor.
Although the Anker Nebula Capsule 3 Laser can be placed on a desk, it does have a tripod mount underneath, which gives a bit more flexibility.
There’s a small Bluetooth voice remote in the box, which is used to navigate through Android TV. It works well enough, but I did find that the select button was a little too close to the cursor keys, and it was easy to move the selector instead of pressing OK.
- Auto keystone and focus
- Netflix has to be sideloaded
- Runs Android TV
As with the majority of smart projectors, such as the XGIMI Halo+, the Anker Nebula Capsule 3 Laser runs Android TV. This OS is designed to be used with a remote control and big screens. Here, the Anker Nebula Capsule 3 Laser has enough power to run this operating system smoothly.
The main streaming apps are available from the Google Play Store, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, NOW and Apple TV+. There are no UK-based catch-up apps available.
A bigger miss is Netflix, which can only be installed on certified devices, such as the Samsung Freestyle. Anker’s workaround is to provide an APK that can be installed via the Nebula Play app. That’s useful in that Netflix is provided, but the version offered is the mobile version of Netflix.
I couldn’t get this to work with the remote control, so I switched the Nebula smartphone app, using the mouse mode. Here, I managed to sign in, but I couldn’t get Netflix to scroll down.
To use Netflix, I just plugged an Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max into the projector’s HDMI port and used this instead.
Setting the projector up is easy. Drop it down and it will automatically adjust keystone (horizontal and vertical) and focus. I found that the projector got the results right each time I used it. The only thing that this projector doesn’t have are the fancy screen detection and obstacle avoidance that the XGIMI Mogo 2 Pro has.
- Needs dark conditions
- Laser backlight handles shadow detail well
- Decent audio
Rated at 300 ANSI Lumens, the Anker Nebula Capsule 3 Laser isn’t particularly bright. I found that during the day, I had to shut curtains to keep the light out to get a large TV-sized image. As it gets darker, the projector can handle up to a 120-inch image, although sticking around 80-inches makes the most amount of sense.
With a throw ratio of 1.2:1, this projector needs to be placed 1.59m from a screen to deliver a 60-inch picture, so it doesn’t need too much room to get a large image.
As is common for portable projectors, this one uses DLP. There’s a 0.23-inch DMD chip, which has a native resolution of 960 x 540. XPR technology is used, which shifts the sensor four times per frame to build up a higher resolution Full HD image. I’m quite impressed by this technology. While not as sharp as a projector with a native Full HD image, the Anker Nebula Capsule 3 Laser comes close.
There’s a single laser backlight here. Rated to last for 30,000 hours, the advantage of laser over LED is that the light doesn’t diminish with age. It’s also a whiter light, which helps when it comes to colours and detail.
Although this projector isn’t that bright, it doest support HDR10, and has the power to resolve detail across the picture, although it misses being able to show the searing highlights that a brighter model can show.
Fire up something bright and colourful, such as Coco, and the Anker Nebula Capsule 3 Laser really shows the rich and vibrant colours to their best. Some projectors this bright struggle a little and can look flat.
Turning to darker content, I watched the bridge fight sequence in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. With a projector at this brightness level, it’s usually a choice between highlights or shadow detail, but the Anker Nebula Capsule 3 Laser does a pretty good job of doing it all, with a good amount of detail down in the darkest parts of the image.
Spend more and get a brighter projector and you’ll get better results, for sure, but what the Anker Nebula Capsule 3 Laser does is display enough detail that I could see what was going on.
There’s not much in the way of image control, with sliders for brightness, contrast and sharpness, and colour temperature and gamma controls. There’s also a wall colour control, which helps adjust the picture colours to make-up for having to project on a non-white wall; handy for travelling where you don’t have much control over what you project on.
There’s an 8W Dolby Digital speaker inside, which is good considering the speaker’s size: loud enough that I didn’t need external speakers, and clear enough to make speech easy to understand. There’s not much in the way of bass, and there’s some subtlety lost along the way, but as an all-in-one projector the speaker does a good enough job for on-the-go movies.
There’s a built-in battery that lasts for 2.5-hours when watching films. Realistically, that’s one regular feature-length film. Switch the projector to Bluetooth speaker mode and it can last for 10 hours on a charge.
Should you buy it?
You want a high-quality portable projector with a battery: If you don’t want to be tied to a power socket, this projector could well suit.
You want a brighter projector: At 300 ANSI Lumens, this projector needs dark conditions to get the most out of it.
The small size and laser backlight make the Anker Nebula Capsule 3 Laser a neat little projector when portability is of the essence. Competition is tough, though. If you don’t care about the battery, then the brighter Mogo 2 Pro may suit you more, particularly as it has better audio. It’s also cheaper.
At this price, the XGIMI Halo+ is the nearest competition. The Halo+ is much brighter and has better audio, but it’s larger. Check out other choices in the guide to the best portable projectors.
How we test
We test every projector we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.
Test for more than a week
Tested with real world use
You might like…
Not natively, although the mobile version of Netflix can be sideloaded. We found this app didn’t work very well.
Laser backlights are more expensive, but produce more vivid colours, don’t have a warm-up time and don’t reduce in brightness over time.
TrustedReviews holds the fact that global warming is not a myth as a core value and will continuously endeavour to help protect our planet from harm in its business practice
As part of this mission, whenever we review a product, we send the company a series of questions to help us gauge and make transparent the impact the device has on the environment
We currently haven’t received answers to the questions on this product, but we will update this page the moment we do. You can see a detailed breakdown of the questions we ask and why in our sustainability info page.