review

Nebula Capsule II Pico Projector With Android TV OS

Friday, January 24, 2020

Let's face it. Carrying around a full size projector on a vacation or camping trip is not very convenient! Hence, the advent of pico projectors such as Nebula Capsule II, which is a portable projector that can operate and used anywhere on its own as a self-contained movie watching device.
Nebula Capsule II can be interfaced with other devices through Bluetooth and Wifi connection, HDMI connection and USB drive, thanks to the integration of a HDMI 1.4 port, USB-A port and 3.5mm auxiliary socket for connecting an external larger speaker. That said, the 8W speaker that is built-in to the Capsule 2 is superb sounding and loud enough for a fairly large room (12ft x 10ft x 8ft).
The integration of a USB-A port, makes Capsule II even more functional because it allows you to be able to watch content from a USB drive. You can also use a USB drive, if you need to sideload apps on Capsule II that aren't available on Google Play.
If you need to sideload apps, you will need to download the apk file of the app to a USB drive. The USB-A port on Capsule II also comes useful for expanding the storage since 4GB of the total 8GB storage is occupied by the system so, you only get 4GB of user space storage.
Regarding projection, Capsule II has 200 Ansi lumens of brightness, which is bright enough for a 40-inch projected image in a bright room. Capsule II is capable of projecting an 100-inch image but, the room has be relatively dark for the 100-inch projected image to be seen clearly.
While a dry wall works good for projecting the image, a projector screen may be a good investment to help absorb some of the ambient light and help with the brightness because as you increase the projection image size, the brightness of the image decreases.
The overall image quality of Capsule II is very good as there is no rainbow effect like you get with some DLP based projectors. The fan speed is virtually unnoticeable, even when sitting close to the projector watching content. Capsule II uses an LED lamp, which has a lifespan of 30,000 hours. Lifespan countdown is not available to view so, you cannot tell how many hours the led lamp has left.
Like with all the other Nebula projectors, Capsule II integrates automatic focus and other features found on full size projectors.
Capsule II also integrates a manual mode that allows you to manually adjust the focus of the image, which you can easily do from the menu or by holding down the HDMI button on the remote and then, using the volume buttons to adjust the focus. When focusing the image, you will hear a subtle noise from the auto-focus motor.
Capsule II has several projector settings to allow you to adjust the color of the image (warm, normal, cool), the projector mode (i.e. front projection, inverted rear projection), battery life (auto, standard, battery mode), keystone correction (only vertical keystoning) and manual focus.
Capsule II supports 4K video input but, it will only output video in 1280 x 720 (16:9) HD resolution, which means you can stream a 4K movie from a USB drive connected to Capsule II but Capsule II will scale the image down to 720p.
You won't be able to use the HDMI 1.4 input of Capsule II to stream from a 4K source like an Android TV box because Capsule II's HDMI port only supports up to 1080p input.
Capsule II uses the latest Android TV 9.0 operating system, which isn't the tablet version of Android you get on other projectors such as the Mars II Pro projector. Because Capsule II uses the official Android TV OS, you get Google Assistant and Chromecast built-in. 
Google Assistant is easily prompted by pressing the mic button on the included remote, which lets you quickly find what you want. The included IR remote uses two AAA batteries and can be used without having to point directly at Capsule II as long as the remote and Capsule II are within a 20cm range. The Nebula Connect app features a remote control function too so, you can can control Capsule II without the included physical remote control.
With Chromecast built-in to Capsule II, you can mirror the content on an iPhone, iPad or Android device via a Chromecast-compatible app. There are dozens of Chromecast-compatible apps to choose from the Google Play Store (Android) and App Store (iOS). Some are free to use (i.e. LocalCast, Any live TV apps), while others you have to pay for (i.e. BubbleUPnP, Hulu, Pocket Casts). One of the most popular Chromecast-compatible app is Spotify, which is free to use with ads. Netflix requires a monthly subscription but, you can sign up for a free trial.
Speaking of apps, there are thousands of native apps that you can download directly to Capsule II via  the Google Play Store app, which comes already pre-installed. Netflix TV surround sound is another benefit you get with Android TV OS; however, Nebula doesn't currently have certification for Netflix TV, only for the mobile version of Netflix, which doesn't come pre-installed so, you will need to side-load it on Capsule II via a USB drive. While Netflix TV isn't supported, Amazon Prime Video is.
You can also cast content from a Google Chrome browser by going to the Chrome Settings menu or by right clicking on a empty tab and, selecting cast. Aside from the physical ports and Chromecast, the Capsule II can interact with voice-controlled devices such as the Google Home speaker. Capsule II does not support Amazon Echo devices though.
You can use Capsule II while it is charging and Capsule II can be powered via 110-volt electricity and 220-volt electricity, which means Capsule II can be powered from different electrical outlets around the world, including North America.
The USB-C port supports Power Delivery (PD) charging so, Capsule II fully charges in just 2.5 hours provided that, you use the included Anker PowerPort Speed PD 30, which is a 30-watt (15V/2A) USB type C wall charger with Power Delivery that also comes with a long USB-C to USB-C cable.
The PowerPort Speed PD 30 charger has a high gloss enclosure with a status blue led and single USB-C port on the back. Aside from being able to charge Capsule II, you will be able to also charge various other devices, thanks to the variable output (5V/3A), (9V/3A), (20V/1.5A).
You can charge the 18W iPad Pro 2018 and higher wattage devices (slowly) such as a 60W MacBook laptop (under medium load) and the 39W Nintendo Switch.
With a MacBook laptop under heavy load though, the PowerPort Speed PD 30 charger will struggle to keep up because the MacBook laptop will draw more power than the PowerPort Speed PD 30 charger can provide. All in all, you are getting a quality and safe to use USB-C charger that integrates Anker's MultiProtect 11-point safety.
The Nebula Capsule II is a neat solution for watching content off-grid. Without WiFi, Capsule II connects to any Bluetooth device and speaker like an Android phone and it will also control that speaker's volume with the remote or projector controls. 
For Chromecasting and Internet apps, you can simply turn on your phone's hotspot and connect Capsule II to it. Capsule II battery life in bluetooth speaker mode is 4.5 hours on 50% volume. Bluetooth battery life could probably be higher if Capsule II used the latest version Bluetooth 5.0 instead of, Bluetooth 4.2.
In terms of size, Capsule II is very similar to Capsule Max and the original Capsule, although Capsule II (680 grams) and Capsule Max (737 grams) are heavier because of their larger 9,700mAh 3.7V battery.
Both Capsule Max and Capsule II improve, overall, on the original Capsule, in almost every department, thanks to better brightness (200 Ansi lm from 100 Ansi lm) and better performance (2GB of RAM from 1GB) to handle games and movies without lag. That said, if you plan to do some gaming, grand strategy type video games such as Stellaris and Hearts of Iron IV will be better suited.
The sound performance of the Capsule II is, by far, the best of the bunch, thanks to the integration of passive radiators, which really thump up the bass. Capsule Max has longer playtime (up to 4 hours battery compared to 2.5 hours for Capsule II, which is the only Nebula projector that features the official Android TV OS.

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