Nebula Mars Projector Review – A Svelte Portable Cinema

Anker is known for their battery packs but they’ve taken that on the go technology and applied it to a bento-box size projector. The Nebula Mars is a DPL projector that has a leather handle and built in speakers which make it feel very portable. Let’s find out if it’s the complete package.
by Nicole on September 7, 2017
Positives
  • portable
  • bright with good picture quality
  • good speakers
  • compact and well built
  • 2.5 hours of battery life is good enough for most movies
Negatives
  • The software needs work
  • very old version of android
  • $600 feels expensive because of the poor software experience

The Nebula Mars is a compact projector that begs to be taken out of on the town or around the house. On top of being able to project an image up to 150 inches, it’s dual JBL speakers are built into and it comes with 2.5 hours of projection time.

Design

The Mars just looks and feels like a nice, premium gadget. Its price point is lower than most other projectors, so it’s reassuring that the build quality is so high. The Mars is also light enough at 6 pounds to trek around the house, into the backyard, or from the car to your camping spot.

Display

While you can project a 150-inch image you’re going to get a much better picture projecting in the 55- to 75-inch range. Rated at 3,000 lumens, the projector is fairly bright, particularly for a projector of its size, but as usual, you’ll want to use it in as dark a situation as possible to minimize image washout.

The image projected has a native resolution of 1,280×800 and we think the video looks sharp. I wouldn’t call it as good as real HD, there is a little softness that is noticeable depending on the type of scene.

You can project 150 inches but if you stick to 55 to 75 inches you’ll get a much better picture. Throwing 3,000 lumens, the projector is fairly bright, it’s much brighter than I would have expected for its size. However, like any projector, you’ll want to use it in as dark an environment so the images don’t get washed out.

Hardware

  • Wireless / HDMI / USB / Bluetooth connectivity
  • DLP display technology
  • 3,000-lumen brightness
  • 5,000:1 contrast ratio
  • 4.8 x 7.01 x 5.43 inches
  • Six pounds
  • 1280 x 800 resolution

Software – How is Android on a Projector?

It’s powered by an Android-based operating system and has built-in Wi-Fi, so you can stream content right from the projector via apps like Netflix and YouTube (more adventurous users can sideload additional Android apps that aren’t in the Nebula’s download library).

Another option is to plug a video source, such as an Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku, Google Chromecast or Apple TV, into the HDMI port and stream content that way. You can also play a video file from a USB thumb-drive.

You pretty much only going to get YouTube, Netflix, HBO Go, and playback apps like Kodi and MX Player, and even then there are some restrictions to how you can use that software because the Mars isn’t going through Google Play. For instance, you can’t sign into the YouTube app if it doesn’t have Play Store support. Even sideloading apps doesn’t work all that well, because many, like Netflix and YouTube’s official Android TV apps, require a more up-to-date version of Android.

Did I forget to mention it’s running KitKat, that’s right a three-year-old version of Android!

Sure, you likely already have solid options for streaming video kicking around your home, but we found that even those didn’t work perfectly.

We often had mirroring issues and Netflix looked better streaming from my laptop than using the internal app. I ended up feeling like the best option was to load media onto a UBS and tuck it into the back of the projector.

Even this wasn’t great, you can’t download Plex, so forget having an easy way to look through what’s on the stick. If you’re thinking this a device your non tech savy roommate will be able to use without you, think again.

Good news is that they can keep updating the software and hopefully they’ll get it right in a few months.

Sound


When I first fired up the Mars I went on YouTube (it’s not that easy to search for and play songs by the way) and played a suggested music video, I was surprised by just how much bass was present and just how loud the JBL speakers could go. I’ve used it outdoors to play music videos at a party and it was loud enough to hand 10 people being rowdy. In a home movie theater environment, it doesn’t replace a surround sound system but it does a good enough job that I didn’t rush to plug one in.

Watching Game of Thrones the opening sequence doesn’t rumble, but it does have enough base to do the theme song justice.

Battery

Anker suggests that you’ll get around 3 hours of projection, but with the audio turned up I found that I would get around 2.5 hours. The best part about the included battery is that you don’t always have to consider where the closest power outlet is, you can position it where the best wall or surface is. It’s enough to get you through a movie or a few shows before you have to plug it back in.  It takes about 2 hours to charge which is actually a bummer, and we found that plugged it the LED indicating that it was full would just keep blinking.

It takes about 2 hours to charge which is actually a bummer if you’re waiting for it to charge to get it back onto that perfect wall. We also found that plugged it the LED indicating that it was full would just keep blinking since I often left it plugged in the flashing would often catch my eye.

Price

  • $600 Nebula Mars DLP portable projector

With a poor software experience, it’s easy to think that they should drop the price closer to $500 from the suggested $600. It’s competitive, but it does feel a little expensive for how refined the software experience is. Having said that the hardware and design are premium and the software can be updated.

Rating
Design / 8
Sound / 9
Performance / 8
Battery Life / 8.5
Software / 6
Price / 7
Editor's Choice / 9
Hardware / 9
Display / 8.5
Nebula Mars

The Mars Nebula has lived in my home for three weeks and it’s made it’s way into my heart, even with its janky software.

It’s a surprisingly capable TV replacement even if you have to draw the shades to use it in the day time, which in my word is a very rare occurrence. The ability to take it outside to add some flare to a backyard party or throw a move up onto a bed sheet adds so much value. The biggest problem is the software, running a three year old version of Android doesn’t match the modern premium hardware.

Even with all of its flaws I like the ability to change screen sizes and how portable it is. Sure it’s not the highest resolution and doesn’t have the best software. But when you’re looking to share media on a large scale on the go or even just around the house once you get going, it’s easy to over look these flaws.

8.1
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