Nebula Capsule II review - is the drinks can-size projector the key to your outdoor entertainment?

We tested the Nebula Capsule II to determine whether its abilities are bigger than it's diminutive size

Nebula Capsule II being tested in writer's home
(Image credit: Future)
Livingetc Verdict

A good all-rounder that's easy to set up and use, the Nebula Capsule II is still a little expensive when considering its limited brightness and resolution. The projector would be good for a no-fuss movie night, but there are rival products that can offer more.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Google Assistant and Chromecast built-in

  • +

    Lightweight and portable with an attractive design

  • +

    Surprisingly good picture quality

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Average battery life

  • -

    Lower brightness

  • -

    Expensive for what you get

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Unlike their indoor counterparts, outdoor projectors can vary wildly in quality, and with important elements such as battery life, portability, and performance in areas with ambient light at stake, it's extra-important to consider carefully.

Nebula is one of the most well-known brands offering a range of portable projectors, and we wanted to test out the Capsule II to see whether it would be good enough for our next outdoor movie night. Lightweight and easy to transport, we were excited to see if the device's features were as sleek and no-nonsense as its design.

We dig into our impressions and everything we experienced while testing the Nebula Capsule II below, and you can see how it compares to other products in our guide to the best outdoor projectors.

Nebula Capsule II: Key info

  • Type: DLP
  • Brightness: 200 ANSI lumens
  • Resolution: 720p (HD)
  • Projection size: 40-100" (1.14m-2.87m)
  • Smart TV: Android TV 9.0; Bluetooth; Chromecast
  • Speakers: 1 x 8W
  • Battery life: 2-2.5hrs playtime
  • Dimensions: 3.1 x 3.1 x 5.9in
  • Weight: 1.6lbs

Nebula Capsule II: Design

The Nebula Capsule II is a small, lightweight cylinder that resembles (as per the retailer's website) a drinks can. The size and shape lend themselves to the portability of the projector, as it can be as easily carried around by hand as it can be packed into a handbag or suitcase on the way out of the door.

Controls and connectivity are unfussy, with four arrow keys on top surrounding an enter/ATV/HDMI control. There are also plus and minus buttons for volume control and a back button. However, you are most likely to be using the remote control supplied for these functions. The base features AUX, HDMI, USB, and USB-C inputs, all of which are clearly labeled for ease.

There's a small hole in the base that can be used with a tripod, but this needs to be bought separately. To be honest, we found it tricky to use the projector without one, opting instead for the stack of books technique to get the lens positioned high enough. Other downsides include a lack of protection for the lens, which is very much open to the elements.

Nebula Capsule II unboxed in writer's home

(Image credit: Future)

Nebula Capsule II: Set-up

We were pleasantly surprised by the lack of plastic packaging with the Nebula Capsule II, with everything encased in a sleek cardboard box. Inside you will find a Quick Start Guide, a remote control, a charging cable, and the projector itself. No carry case is included, but these can be easily purchased online.

Once charged (for just over an hour), you can turn the Capsule II on to reveal the Android TV interface. From here, if you have a Google account, you can log in and access apps, including Amazon Prime and YouTube. There's a big caveat here, however, as Netflix can only be accessed via a workaround with the Nebula Manager app. It's fiddly and awkward, and we would recommend opting for a different projector if Netflix is essential for you.

If you want to connect a device via HDMI, you can do that here and tap the top button to switch modes.

We would recommend heading into the settings menu and opting into autofocus and auto keystone correction, as this makes it a lot easier to play about with positioning without correcting it manually each time.

Nebula Capsule II projection of scenes from Magic Mike trailer

Scenes from the Magic Mike: The Last Dance trailer projected by the Nebula Capsule II onto a white(ish) brick exterior wall.

(Image credit: Future)

Nebula Capsule II: Performance

With a brightness rating of 200 ANSI lumens, we weren't expecting too much from the Nebula Capsule II but were pleasantly surprised when we fired it up in the early evening. With a small amount of ambient light coming from the right side, the results when streaming from YouTube were better than the specs suggested.

Bright scenes looked the best for obvious reasons, but darker scenes also looked fine. Blacks were black (which isn't always the case with similar outdoor projectors), though motion isn't as smooth in fast-paced scenes as we would like. Also, note that the 720p resolution isn't going to make Full HD or 4K content look its best.

Normal, cool, and warm temperature settings are available, and we would recommend setting it to the former two if you're watching anywhere but in complete darkness. The images above are captured in Normal mode.

As said, with keystone correction and focus set to auto, positioning your screen is super-simple and requires little to no manual input. Instead of constantly tweaking the alignment of our image as we have with other projectors, we could simply power our content up and start watching.

Nebula Capsule II in use

(Image credit: Nebula)

Nebula Capsule II vs Nebula Capsule

The second generation Nebula Capsule improves on brightness, resolution, audio, and smart TV offerings, though it almost doubles the price. Both models offer a projector size of 40-100", but the Capsule II will give you a far better image with double the brightness and 720p HD resolution. It also has Chromecast but will only last up to 2.5 hours compared to the Capsule I's 4 hours.

Nebula Capsule II: Our verdict

The Nebula Capsule range is understandably popular because of its smart design and focus on portability. Still, it doesn't measure up well against rival outdoor projectors when it comes to things like brightness.

That said, we were very pleasantly surprised by the results as well as the ease of use, with a convenience aspect that puts it in the running for easiest to use outdoor projector.

Still, we would struggle to say that it's worth the rather hefty price tag when there are so many choices out there. The lack of Netflix is a big mark against the Capsule II, and there are cheaper projectors - including from Nebula itself - that offer better resolution and brightness.

Caroline Preece
Smart Homes Ecommerce Editor

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.