Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 Limited Edition review

Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 Limited Edition review

When I heard Anker was coming out with an R2-D2 Limited Edition of its excellent Nebula Capsule II video projector, I hoped it would look exactly like the illustration on its box, but in color. Alas, the color is there, but the R2-D2 treatment is just a paint job on the existing projector, making the $120 upsell over the run-of-the-mill Nebula Capsule II—$700 versus $580—a little hard to swallow.

Apart from the paint design, the only other feature that informs you this is a Star Wars-inspired home-theater device is the beep-beep-boop sound the projector makes when first powered up. Yes, it sounds exactly like the loveable droid, but that’s the only time you’ll hear it.

anker nebula r2 d2 box Michael Brown / IDG

I was hoping the limited-edition R2-D2 Nebula video projector would look just like what’s printed on the box, but in color. The color is there, but that’s it.

Android TV—and a lot more

The Nebula II is quite powerful for its size, especially when you consider that it’s completely self-contained, with Android TV 9.0; Google Assistant; Chromecast; a self-amplified, 8-watt speaker; and a Wi-Fi adapter onboard. It can run on AC or battery power (up to 2.5 hours in the latter instance), and its DLP engine delivers up to a 100-inch image in 720p resolution with a respectable brightness of 200 lumens. The only thing you’ll need to provide is a projection surface. You’ll want something white and non-reflective for that: a bed sheet or a matte-white-painted wall would do in a pinch; I evaluated its performance with a tripod-mounted Epson ELPSC80 projection screen.

In addition to its onboard media sources, the Nebula II also has an HDMI port with ARC, along with a USB port for streaming media from a flash memory device (drives up to 2TB are supported). There’s a Bluetooth radio in there, too. Power is provided by a USB charging port with Power Delivery to charge its battery more rapidly. A too-short (3-foot) USB-C cable and USB-PD AC adapter are included in the box, as is an infrared remote control. The remote has a directional pad, volume control, and home-screen buttons for navigating Android TV and the projector’s own settings, plus a button to summon Google Assistant.

anker nebula remote Michael Brown / IDG

You can summon Google Assisteant with the Anker Nebula II’s remote control.

Using the Nebula II

You can operate the projector on a tabletop, but a better solution would be to take advantage of the 1/4-inch thread mount in the bottom of the enclosure and mount it to a tripod. That’s what I did, and it made it so much easier to raise the device to the optimum height and to level it (it doesn’t have adjustable feet for that purpose). In addition to front projection, the Nebula II can also be configured for rear projection, and it can invert the picture so you can mount it from the ceiling in front of or behind the screen.

I needed only eight feet of distance from the screen to project a 72-inch image, and I took advantage of the automatic focus and keystone adjustments to make sure the picture looked its best.

On startup, the projector’s auto-focus feature analyzes its logo projected on the screen to make the appropriate adjustment in about one second. If you’re not happy with the result, or you move the projector, you can call up a more detailed image and either focus manually or repeat the auto-focus. Either way, the focus is a bit soft compared to a TV, but that’s the nature of the technology—and the resolution.

anker nebula threaded mount Michael Brown / IDG

This 1/4-inch thread mount makes it easy to install the Nebula II on a tripod or the ceiling for front or rear projection.

There’s an automatic keystone-adjustment feature as well, and it was equally quick to deliver the proper setting after I purposely distorted it using the manual controls. I don’t think anyone will find it necessary to make manual focus or keystone adjustments, because the automatic tools work quite well. I could say the same for the color temperature adjustments of “warm,” “normal” (the default), or “cool.” I found it difficult to discern the difference between the latter two settings, and I didn’t like the results “warm” delivered.

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