Review: Nebula Capsule Max – Bigger and Brighter, But With Some Big Tradeoffs
A while back, we took a close look at Anker’s popular Capsule – a highly portable projector in a very small package aiming to transform the pocket projector from a strict business tool into a serious multimedia device – and overall, we were quite pleased.
Today, we will be taking a look at a highly updated, brighter, and more powerful model released as a successor — the Nebula Capsule Max! The Max takes the capsule in a slightly different direction with a significantly larger form factor, bigger and louder speakers, higher brightness, and more.
Much like its predecessor, the Capsule boasts an impressive 3-4 hours of battery life, and a variety of different options for connecting the device to streaming services and external media, including USB, HDMI, and a built in app store.
Unlike it’s smaller counterpart, the Capsule boasts a 720P resolution, which, while it doesn’t provide the highest definitely you might hope for, certainly does the job when watching a movie or streaming TV shows, and is a step up from the Capsule.
Other things I deeply appreciated about the Capsule Max is that it’s automatic adjustment for vertical position (Keystone) has been greatly improved, Anker has added autofocus, which in my experience performs exceptionally well, and a new adjustment was added for quadrilateral keystone, which makes it easier to get a solid rectangular image with the device positioned in a nonstandard way (such as mine, which projects onto the ceiling from a tripod on the side, requiring horizontal, vertical, -and- quadrilateral keystone adjustments.
The improved speakers are also excellent, although I would not mind an even greater increase in volume output. Overall, the speakers have excellent clarity and sound quality, however.
Despite being an all around more powerful projector, however, the Capsule Max did have a series of shortcomings that prevent me from giving it great marks – for instance, rather than Google’s Play store, the device only boasts its own proprietary app store, which, in my experience, contained a LOT of outdated apps and apps that won’t work properly on the device. On the other hand, it does allow you to side-load Android apps from a USB device – again, however, unless you have a specific way of confirming that these will play well with the Capsule, you may have better luck connecting the Max to a separate device, such as a streaming stick, or using only downloaded media.
Another disappointing regard of the Capsule Max is that it does not smooth the screen nearly as well along the borders when using any type of keystone adjustment, which sometimes left the edges looking somewhat jagged.
Unfortunately, despite a second test unit being sent, and the firmware being updated since I received the unit, these shortcomings have not been addressed.
Considering the $470 price tag for the Capsule Max, its various shortcomings, its maximum brightness of 200 lumens, which, while improved, still left me wanting much more, and its very disappointing shortcomings in application support, I cannot recommend the Capsule as a complete solution for watching media at home, which is a bummer, as in many ways, this device is a downgrade from the original Capsule projector.
If you are looking solely for a portable projector, however, and don’t mind resorting mostly to USB or pre-loaded video, the Capsule Max is still a great item to have around, and it’s weight of less than 2 pounds makes it nothing more than an afterthought when packing for your next adventure.
All in all, I give the Capsule Max an overall rating of 3.5 out of 5.