The Solar Portable from Nebula is refreshingly different from many outdoor projectors in design, and its performance is also a pleasant surprise. While its muted brightness, audio quality, and quirks are par for the course, this is a solid outdoor model that impresses in other areas.
1080p Full HD resolution
Auto-focus works well
Simple streaming interface with Android TV
Good battery life
Bluetooth speaker mode let down by audio quality
Keystone correction didn't work seamlessly for us
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Anker is well-known for its range of portable projector options, with models that make having an outdoor theater area entirely possible with battery-powered devices that already have your favorite streaming services on board. These projectors are often not the highest-specced, but their portability and convenience make up for this. If you want a big-screen experience in your backyard, Anker Nebula's range will probably have something that appeals to you.
The Nebular Solar portable projector is as user-friendly and reliable as its peers, with auto-focus, keystone correction, Android TV, and up to three hours of wireless playtime. But can it do what many models designed to be taken on the go can't - impress with its performance?
We decided to try it out to see whether the Nebula Solar's audio and visual promises could bear out during real-world use and whether it really is the convenient on-the-go solution we expect. Keep reading to see what we thought, and check out our guide to the best outdoor projectors overall for more.
Nebula Solar: Key info
- Resolution: 1080p Full HD
- Brightness: 400 ANSI lumens
- Display: DLP
- Speakers: 2 x 3W with Dolby Digital Plus
- Battery life: up to 3 hours
- Dimensions: 7.5 x 7.5 x 2.1in
- Weight: 2.8lbs
Nebula Solar: Design
The Nebula Solar departs from the tall cylinder designs you often see, whether it's the Nebula Capsule II or XGIMI Halo+. Instead, the Solar is a more squat, puck shape with the lens on the front and a small 13-degree kickstand that can be used to prop it up. The projector is, first and foremost, designed to be portable, and it achieves this with a lightweight design small enough to be packed up and taken camping or on vacation.
The white casing gives it a sleek look that we honestly prefer to the often-black perforated appearance of so many projectors. It's heavier than we expected, however, so not as suited to being carried for a long time by hand. If the kickstand isn't enough, there is a place to attach a tripod.
Nebula Solar: Set up & Performance
On paper, the Nebula Solar is impressive in some areas but disappointing in others. The main point of contention is the brightness, which sits relatively low (but not terrible) at 400 ANSI lumens. However, with a resolution of 1080p Full HD and other features such as auto-focus and keystone correction, it's easy to forgive this element and find ways to work around it instead.
In practice, the brightness is fine, at least compared to many other portable models we have tested. Dark and light images are readable in both dim and dark conditions.
Set-up is simple, but you will need to have your WiFi password and Google login details to hand. Then, once you've passed through all of the entry screens, you can start watching.
Once you get going, you thankfully don't need to mess around with the settings too much. As long as we had the projector pointed straight on, our image was perfectly aligned and looked great from the start, which will be a relief for anyone who hates navigating endless menus before they can use a device.
Some useful settings may improve your experience, such as switching between 'normal,' 'cool,' and 'warm' temperatures and even setting your wall's color should you not have an outdoor projector screen.
Once we started moving around the device to see how the image would respond, things got a little more bothersome. While the auto-focus works brilliantly (and can be manually activated with a button on the remote), we couldn't get our image to straighten. In the end, we discovered that turning off the auto-correction mode added options to adjust it manually.
You're not short of connectivity options, with HDMI, USB, AUX, Chromecast, and Bluetooth available alongside the built-in Android 9.0 TV streaming interface. You can also use it as a speaker with a dedicated Bluetooth mode, but the 3W speakers are only up to so much, even with Dolby Digital Plus on board. We tried streaming some music from YouTube, and, though entirely acceptable, you would be better off using an actual Bluetooth speaker.
We were impressed with the battery life, which stands at an above-average 3 hours on a single charge (in battery mode; 2 hours in standard mode). This, of course, makes it a more viable option for taking out with you on the go, where power outlets may be hard to come by.
Nebula Solar: Our verdict
We had an overall good experience with the Nebula Solar. It is a solid portable option with decent brightness, excellent resolution, and above-average audio (even if using it as a speaker is a bit of a stretch). While certain things like keystone correction were a little more fiddly than we would have liked, everything else, from set-up to everyday use, was smooth and user-friendly.
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Caroline is the smart home ecommerce editor for Livingetc, covering everything tech for the home, from smart speakers to air purifiers and everything in between. She is passionate about the role that technology and smart devices can play in daily life, enhancing the home without sacrificing personal style and carefully chosen interiors. In her spare time, she can be found tinkering with bulbs, soundbars, and video doorbells in an effort to automate every part of her small home. Previously, she lent her expertise to the likes of Expert Reviews, IT Pro, Coach, The Week, and more.
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