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Anker’s Nebula Capsule Max is a Cinephile’s Portable Dream Machine

Think you can’t bring a movie projector on vacation? Think again.

June 16, 2020
movie projector
Not much bigger than a soda can, the Nebula Capsule Max is a portable movie projector with a few tricks up its sleeve. Anker

There comes a time on any family vacation when everyone could use a little break from the excitement of the beach, pool, or general hijinks. I know, it’s silly to say you could use a break from your break, but when you’re traveling with multiple children and your itinerary is jam-packed with activities to keep people of all ages entertained and happy, you can be worn out just from keeping everyone organized and on time. It’s moments like those when a lounge chair next to the pool is your best friend in the world.

The other side of this dilemma is cost; particularly how a string of daily activities can really eat into your vacation budget. Even if you’re at an all-inclusive resort that offers a ton of bells and whistles, you can’t do it all without someone getting tired and needing a break. Moments like those call for creative solutions that have the ability to bring the whole family together, since that’s what your vacation is all about. Why allow the kids to sneak off and sacrifice quality time when you can bring everyone together for a classic, relaxing activity like watching a movie?

That’s only one of the key benefits of owning a device like the Nebula Capsule Max pocket projector from Anker, and this little device is packed with potential for a wide variety of vacations.

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Just How Well Does a ’Pocket Projector’ Work?

Not having the presumed prerequisites for an in-home movie theater—a screen and an old-timey popcorn machine, for starters—I tested the Nebula Capsule Max just as I would use it on vacation. Basically, I pointed it at a large white wall and pressed play. The DLP display and 720p resolution create a surprisingly crisp image that feels just like you’re in a theater, but I’m hardly a picky viewer, so I let my 4-year-old son play the role of Roger Ebert.

Capturing a toddler’s attention for the entire length of a feature film can be a daunting task, and my son has only watched one film (The Rise of Skywalker) all the way through, and even then, he’d leave the room every few minutes to get more Legos. Using the projector instantly changed that. He was fascinated by the device and being able to watch something on the wall (let’s ignore that the TV is on a wall), and soon enough he’d watched The Lego Batman Movie from start to finish and immediately demanded more DC Lego action.

But this is about more than keeping a kid who won’t nap happy. The adults need to enjoy the picture, too, so I tested this the best way I know how: watching John Wick on the side of my house. The picture quality relies on the screen size, or projector distance, for your “drive-in” experience, so if you’re looking to play a video on a massive surface, expect lower quality.

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For the indoor viewing, the wall area we used is roughly 7-sq.-ft., and the outdoor wall was closer to 10-sq.-ft. In both cases I kept the projector within 10 feet of the “screen.” The indoor picture was crisper, as expected, because we blacked out the room. Factors like my neighbor’s exterior lights and a streetlight made the experience a little more challenging, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the movie. Like my son, I was ready to move on to Chapter 2 as soon as the first one finished.

As for sound, you won’t be getting Dolby Digital 5.1, but this speaker still packs a punch without sounding like the movie was recorded in an airplane bathroom. There’s also a headphone jack in case you want to have the theater all to yourself.

How Does it Work?

Setup is incredibly simple with the Capsule Max, as it includes a remote that navigates the on-screen instructions. The device also self-focuses, which makes it even easier to find the proper distance and height—the latter being equally important for the sake of keeping the device away from curious little hands. But the remote isn’t necessary, because there’s also an app that allows your iPhone or Android device to serve as the mouse/remote.

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The Nebula Capsule Max runs on the Android 8.1 operating system, so if you’re Apple-focused it might take some time to adjust to the format. But the iPhone app works almost flawlessly with the projector, as the only “problem” I have encountered is having to switch between the mouse and controller options when choosing and then scrolling through apps. Although, I assume this is something I’ll get used to and figure out the more I use it.

What Can I Watch?

Netflix and Amazon apps come pre-installed, so those are as simple as logging in. Logging out is pointless, as my son will never watch PJ Masks on anything but the projector again. A variety of other streaming platform apps is available, and the Firefox web browser is also installed in case you’re in a bind and need to use the projector to check work emails or you’re watching an episode of Bubble Guppies and can’t quite identify a character’s voice and need quick access to IMDb because your phone is a remote.

Turns out it was Alice Cooper!

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