Nebula Astro Review Juggling Ball Size Projector With Eye Protection

Thursday, April 29, 2021

The late 1800s saw the invention of the overhead projector and the Zoopraxiscope and Panopticon - two of the first movie projectors ever made - all of which use a basic lamp projection system that consists of lenses and a light source. Old school overhead projectors use a physical source (e.g. ink transparencies) to input the image, while modern projectors such as the Nebula Astro projector (pictured) uses a digital input source such as a computer. Like most pico type projectors, Nebula Astro has a short throw ratio (1.3), which is perfect for small rooms or portable use because you can position the projector relatively close and still get a clear picture. Long throw projectors, in the other hand, require a minimum distance of at least 72 inches (6ft).

Astro's minimum distance requirement is just 23 inches (half a meter) with a 121 inches maximum distance. That said, you get a better viewing experience when Astro is positioned between 40 and 80 inches away from the projection surface. From 35 inches distance, Astro will generate an image 22-inch wide (horizontally) and 12 inch high (vertically). From 89 inch distance, Astro is able to create an image 57-inch wide (horizontally) and 30 inch high (vertically). Essentially, the size of the image projection will depend on how far you place Astro from the projection surface. There is no option to change the aspect ratio though. The Astro projector uses the default 16:9 aspect ratio, which produces a rectangular image. This means, you cannot get an square (4:3) image with the Astro projector.

The Nebula Astro projector weighs 376 grams and measures 9.5cm high, 9cm deep (front to back) and 8cm wide (left to right). The Astro Projector is very compact, indeed, and the smallest projector in the Nebula line up, followed by the Nebula Capsule series. 
The Nebula Astro projector has a cute cube shape, which is complemented by a quirky monoeye plastic brow ridge surrounding the led lens and motion sensor for the Eye Guard feature. The motion sensor used is a Time-of-Flight (TOF) infrared light sensor, which is the same type used for 3D imaging and augmented reality. The TOF sensor works just like an IR proximity sensor, beaming light to detect objects in its path and works well turning off the light projection almost immediately. 

Being a 480p DLP projector, Astro supports standard definition (SD); hence the resolution won't be sharp enough for watching HD content or playing modern games (e.g. Call Of Duty), unless they are older 2D type games. If you're looking for HD (high definition), you need a 720p or 1080p projector such as the Solar Portable projector.

The Astro projector is marketed for children so, it makes sense having it integrated to prevent children staring at the light projection. The Eye Guard TOF sensor is invisible and can be disabled manually and adjusted to activate from a 20cm distance or 40cm distance. From the Astro projector settings, there is another eye health feature called "eye comfort", which is also found on smartphones. This feature, basically, reduces blue-light (making the image warmer) so, your eyes won't get tired as quickly. Speaking of brightness, there is no facility to manually adjust the brightness and, there is no "color mode" option like on other Nebula projectors for manually changing the color temperature of the image. That said, Astro image color reproduction is very good.

In terms of projector features, the Nebula Astro projector isn't as feature rich as the Capsule Max or the Capsule 2, although these projectors also cost twice as much. Astro doesn't integrate quadrilateral keystone correction or horizontal keystone correction, which is not a problem if Astro is placed on a leveled surface. If not, you may have to use a tripod in order to get a proper image orientation. That said, Astro does integrate automatic vertical keystone correction up to +40 degrees and -40 degrees.

The Nebula Astro projector also supports different projection modes so, you could attach it onto a ceiling. You can create a larger or smaller image size by moving Astro closer or further from the projection surface. The focus of the image is adjusted manually by twisting the lens in and out via a wheel dial that works similarly to an old school overhead projector. The focus ring works well, although it isn't as easy to get a sharp image nor as convenient as the motorized auto-focus inside the Mars 2 Pro projector.

Astro has flat sides so, you can sit the projector on its side and base, allowing to use Astro without the need of a tripod. A 1/4-inch female thread has been bored right in the centre of the rubber ring base to mount the Astro projector on a tripod. The perforations you see on the sides of the projector are the ventilation outlet and inlet. The speaker grille is on the bottom, housing a single 3W speaker; hence the Astro projector has a down firing speaker. The driver delivers surprisingly good audio dynamics and loud volume too. If you require more power though, you can always connect Astro to a external bluetooth speaker such as the Soundcore Flare Plus 

Astro has a rechargeable battery; hence it doesn't have to be tethered to an electrical outlet. You can even charge Astro via a portable power bank, like the Powercore Plus or any other power bank as long as the USB port of the power bank can output 5V/2A (10 watts). A 60cm long charging cable and USB wall charger are also included. 

The charger has a 5V/2A (10W) output rating, allowing you to re-charge Astro's internal 3250 mAh (3.63V) li-polymer battery in 2 hours. There is no fast charging support. Provided that volume is set at 55%, you can expect to get 2.5 hours of viewing runtime in Standard Mode, 1.5 hours in Battery Mode and up to 14 hours in Bluetooth Speaker Mode. Astro's maximum brightness is 100 ansi lumen, the same as the original Capsule projector. In contrast, the Nebular Mars 2 Pro is capable of 500 ansi lumens.

The included Nebula-branded remote control comes with two heavy duty dry cell AAA batteries. The remote is made of plastic and has leveled rubber buttons with a "mushy" like membrane actuation. The remote has good range and works without direct line of sight to the IR receiver located on the back of the Astro projector. This means, you can use the remote even if the Astro projector is located behind you. 

The remote has 18 buttons, including directional buttons for navigating through menus and moving the mouse cursor, which is activated via the mouse button on the remote. The mouse function works, although it's not an "air mouse" remote that you can waive around like a magic wand. Aside from the physical remote, you can also use the Nebula connect mobile app to control Astro.

The Nebula Astro projector is made entirely of plastic with a downward curvature on top that integrates a rubbery control panel, housing four built-in buttons and a status led to feedback low battery (flashing red) and full charge (solid green). All buttons have physical (non-clicky) actuation, requiring some force to actuate. If you like touch control, you can get this with the Apollo projector. Astro's built-in buttons control volume up, volume down, bluetooth speaker mode and power. This means, the remote control or mobile app is needed in order to confirm selections, as well as going back and forth between menus. 

There are two connectivity ports on the rear of Astro, namely a USB-C port (charging only) and a HDMI port that is compatible with any HDMI enabled device such as video games console, laptop, iPhone (via a Lightning to HDMI adapter) or Android phone via a C-HDMI adapter (not included). The HDMI port uses the HDMI 1.4 version; hence it supports up to 1080p (60Hz) input. 

As mentioned earlier though, the Astro projector native resolution is 480p; hence the content fed from a 1080p input source will be down-scaled to 480p. Being an Android device (running Android version 7.1.2), the Astro projector also comes with 1GB of memory RAM and 8GB of built-in storage, although 3GB is already taken by the pre-loaded apps; hence Astro has 5GB of internal storage space right out of the box. The internal storage allows you to download more apps, as well as store content locally, including apk files, music, pictures, and Netflix movies, which you can then watch offline.

The Astro projector user interface (UI) has a child theme so, it's very colorful compared to the UI of other Nebula projectors. The marketing of Astro is a little confusing though. This is because the packaging branding doesn't have a children theme at all, which would help consolidate Astro's identity as a children's projector. 

The Astro projector interface consists of a Home Screen, showing several pre-loaded apps, including Netflix, YouTube Kids, Hulu, Ted, Prime Video. There is also a Settings Screen with several tabs to access projector settings, parental controls, app manager, general settings (e.g. date/time, sleep mode, wallpaper, UI language), network settings, and Nebula Store, which is an app store (similar to Google Play Store) where you can download more apps including One4Kids, Pokemon, nick, tubi, crossy road, Firefox, TeleCine Play, BBC iPlayer, ExpressVPN, ESPN (sports), DAZN (sports) and many more.

From Astro projector settings, you can also access the screen mirroring feature, which lets you mirror non-copyrighted content from your phone (Android or iOS). This means, you can stream videos and movies from your phone too. There is no Chromecast casting support though, like you get with the Nebula Capsule 2 projector, which lets you stream content from a phone without actually mirroring the phone screen. This means, you can still use your phone (e.g. text, receive messages, etc) without interrupting the viewing experience. You can buy the Nebula Astro projector from amazon.

Similar Gadget Explained Reviews


Connect With Gadget Explained