If you're searching for a portable projector you've probably seen Nebula's latest offerings as they seek to deliver a complete cinema experience in the smallest and smartest devices possible. Those uninitiated in the projector industry are easily swept up in the sharp design of the Capsule (left) and lofty promise of home cinema on-the-go Mars (right) , but can Nebula really deliver? Compared with all-rounders like the PIQS TT, M550 PLus and Qumi Q38 are they still worthy?
Lumens are key
Let's get right into it, lumens are one of the most crucial features on a projector and yet they are still one of the least well understood. If you'd like to find out what real ansi lumens are, have a look at our blog post that answers question "what are ansi lumens?" Essentially ansi lumens are the official measurement for brightness and are the only real way to judge how bright a projector is.
To put this in perspective the tiny Nebula Capsule has an ansi lumens rating of 100. Now this may sound small but 100 ansi lumens is still bright enough for a dark room and would be fine in a pitch black room. Here is the real issue with Nebula's Capsule - the Capsule is also being advertised with the tag line "Transform Any Space Into a Theater" which leads most people to believe it can handle any environment. Unfortunately 100 ansi lumens is exclusively for dark environments.
Could I use it with the lights on?
If you've got a plan to buy one for your office for example, sadly this projector won't be able to handle it, as 100 ansi lumens just isn't enough for normal ambient light. We usually recommend around 450 ansi lumens upwards to handle a bright office or home environment with the lights on.
Nebula themselves do address this slightly in their description but sadly other retailers have yet to pick up on the fact that 100 ansi lumens can't create a cinema experience anywhere.
From Nebula's page on Indiegogo:
" 5. How bright are 100 ANSI Lumens? Is it bright enough to see in normal lighting?
It can provide a clear 100 inch screen in a dim environment and support a clear 60 inch screen in an neutral lighting. "
The Nebula Mars projector has 500 ansi lumens in a lunchbox sized device, yet sadly many retailers, even PC World, have jumped on the fake lumens bandwagon. As a result the Nebula Mars is regularly quoted at a massive 3000 lumens. Nebula themselves even quote at 3000 lumens despite the nebula Mars projector only reaching a genuine 500 ansi lumens.
That's proper home cinema territory and it's not possible to get anything that bright with easy carry-able portability. When the market is saturated with fake lumens it becomes very difficult to gauge how bright something actually is.
There's no doubting the sound systems and sleek designs on Nebula's products are fantastic but their lofty claims and lumens ratings simply can't be backed up. if you want genuine, have a look at these challengers:
The M550 Plus projector (above) was recently voted best portable projector for 2018 and packs a host of features into a palm sized projector. At 650 genuine ansi lumens of brightness the M550 Plus projector is bright enough to handle light environments - you can find the evidence on the M550 Plus product page. With 720p, 3D capability and app store onboard it's a very capable TV / home cinema replacement and is an excellent alternative to the nebula mars.
The first Pico projector to offer full HD 1080p has 600 ansi lumens and a powerful android V6.0 operating system for crisp images at huge sizes. Crucially the small Qumi Q38 projector doesn't have the bulk of the Nebula Mars and is brighter, with full HD and easy Wifi streaming to boot.
The PIQS TT projector provides an excellent alternative to both Nebula offerings, being palm sized and brighter than the Capsule with impressive 2 hour battery life and 450 ansi lumens. You don't even have to sacrifice the app store as the PIQS TT projector can access the google play store.
That's not all though, the PIQS TT also comes with an interactive remote for easy presenting, gaming and drawing. Both Nebula offerings cover two different areas of the projector market, but why not get a home cinema and portable streaming device all in one palm sized unit?
Don't settle for a niche product that can only fulfil one of the many possible uses that a projector can have, don't get drawn into the fake lumens hype, and last of all buy something genuine.