Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 Smart Mini Projector Review: Project the Force Nearly Anywhere

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The Lowdown

If you’ve wanted to get a portable projector, it would be hard to find one with as many excellent features and as much “wow” factor as the Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 Smart Mini Projector. Everyone who sees it in action wants one, and when you don’t need it, it is small enough to tuck away on a shelf — where it just looks like a cute Star Wars tchotchke until you’re ready to use it again.

Overall
4

Pros

  • Simple set-up walks you through connecting the projector to your Google account for all services and apps
  • Small and lightweight
  • 2.5 hours battery life
  • Built-in 8W 360º speaker
  • Runs Android TV 9
  • Supports Chromecast
  • Works with or without another device streaming to it
  • It can project up to a 100″ image with an HD resolution of 1280 x 720p
  • Star Wars fans will love the R2-D2 skin and start-up sounds

Cons

  • The projector’s 8W speaker is plenty loud in smaller rooms but not quite strong enough for larger spaces or for backyard use
  • Like all projectors, it works best in a dark room
  • Netflix isn’t natively compatible with the projector, but there is a work-around
  • It’s an aspirational gadget and a bit expensive
Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 Smart Mini Projector Review: Project the Force Nearly Anywhere Listen to this article

Earlier this year, Anker announced the limited edition Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 version of their popular Nebula Capsule II smart mini projector to positive reception in this galaxy. We were able to get our hands on one of the 1000 units, and while it might become a collectible in the years to come, it’s also an excellent smart portable projector that you can enjoy right now.

Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 smart mini projector

While the Limited Edition Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 is in many ways similar to its sibling, the all-black Anker Nebula Capsule II smart mini projector, the R2-D2 version has a couple of major differences. Not only has it been given a paint job to reproduce R2D2’s classic white, blue, and red look from the ever-popular movie series, but the projector also makes R2-D2 sounds as different functions are performed.

I liked unboxing this special edition projector because Anker gives you just enough to make the experience impressive, but they don’t overdo it. When you open the box, you’re greeted with a full-color panel featuring an iconic moment between R2-D2, Luke Skywalker, C-3P0, and Princess Leia’s hologram.

After you get past the “opening scene,” the Nebula Capsule II peeks out at you on the right side. The Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 measures 5.9″ tall and 3.14″ in diameter; it weighs 1.70 pounds.

This projector looks amazing and feels very solidly built. Slightly larger than a soda can, it is quite small and compact. You could easily toss it in your backpack for a trip to a friend’s house — or if your skinny jeans aren’t too tight — you could stuff it in your back pocket, and you’d be just fine.

Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 smart mini projector

Accessories in the box include a USB-C cable, a remote control (two AAA batteries are provided), a USB Type-C to USB Type-C charging cable, and a wall charger. Perhaps the only thing missing in the box is a mini-tripod stand to emulate R2’s legs; that seems like a missed opportunity.

Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 smart mini projector accessories

The Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2’s full-size remote is pretty awesome. At the top, there are Power and Source buttons; the Directional Pad situated below them works via press and not by swipe, and I really like the fact that Nebula opted for this.

Under the D-Pad,  there are Back, Home, and Google Assistant/Voice buttons that do what’s expected. Under them, there is a volume rocker that is spaced far enough away from the rest of the remote buttons that it is easy to find in the dark, which is very handy. It’s a shame, though, that the Nebula remote doesn’t use some of the extra space under the volume rocker to include hot buttons for popular apps, like how Roku remotes have built-in hot buttons for popular third-party apps like Netflix or Hulu, for instance.

One thing I would have liked to have seen would have been USB Type-C charging for the remote versus disposable batteries, but that’s not commonly found on most remotes yet anyway.

Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 smart mini projector remote

On the front, there is a projection lens.

Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 Smart Mini Projector Review: Project the Force Nearly Anywhere

The display technology allows you to project a 100″ image in 1280 x 720p resolution with decent brightness. While I would suggest investing in a proper screen if you plan on using the projector to replace a TV, the Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 works fine on a bare white wall as long as the room is dark.

There is an IR receiver on the back, a button you press to switch between Bluetooth speaker mode and projector mode, and a Power button.

Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 Smart Mini Projector Review: Project the Force Nearly Anywhere

There are multiple ports on the back side’s bottom, including an aux-out, full-size HDMI, USB Type-A (for content on a thumb-drive), and USB-C.

Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 smart mini projector

On the top, there are capacitive buttons that light up when touched that control volume, navigation, return (back), and a center button that confirms your selection. If you are using the remote, you won’t necessarily need to fiddle with any of these.

Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 Smart Mini Projector Review: Project the Force Nearly Anywhere

On the bottom, there is a standard tripod mount in case you need to raise the projector while keeping it stable.

Some of the Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 Smart Mini Projector’s features include that it is running Android TV 9, which is absolutely fantastic because that means it is compatible with Google Play’s extensive streaming app list, which has some of my personal favorites like IPTV Streamers, TiViMate, Plex, HBO Max, Hulu, and many more. The one disappointment was that when I went to install Netflix, I was told that it wasn’t compatible with my device. There is a workaround, though.

The Capsule II R2-D2 has DLP technology. It can project up to a 100″ image with an HD resolution of 1280 x 720p, it has a brightness of 200 ANSI, and it has a built-in 9,700mAh battery. Anker says the battery will last for up to 2.5 hours on its own; I managed to watch three episodes of Mare of Easton without needing to plug into a wall socket.

Side note: Mare of Easton is on HBO Max, and it’s a great show for anyone looking for a new series; my wife and I truly enjoy it.

That aside, there are many connectivity options on the projector, including USB Type-C, HDMI, USB, Aux-Out, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and even Chromecast. So with the Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 Smart Mini Projector, there are options for streaming without an additional device when you have Wi-Fi, or you can stream to the projector directly from your phone, tablet, or laptop even when Wi-Fi isn’t available.

The Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 Smart Mini Projector has a built-in 360º speaker that gets fairly loud, but only if you’re indoors or close to the projector. If you can imagine playing a film on your TV but having the audio stream from a portable Bluetooth speaker, that’s roughly the same experience you’ll receive with the Capsule II.

The 8W speaker is great for YouTube Clips and action movies with a lot of bass and heavy noise. Still, if you’re watching shows with a lot of dialogue in a larger room, you might want to connect the Capsule II to a bigger speaker to get that robust, immersive theatre experience that we’ve all been missing for a year.

Once you power the Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 Smart Mini Projector on, you’ll hear R2-D2’s signature chime as it powers up. This is the only instance that it will do this, but I have to say it’s pretty cute to hear.

The assistant will walk you through connecting the projector to your Google account so that you can access all of the apps and services. From there, the Android TV experience is very clean and easy to navigate.

 

Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 smart mini projector

We don’t have many rooms with walls that aren’t covered by TVs or paintings in our apartment. For this review, I used my daughter’s bedroom wall to get a nice, clear area to test the projector. You can clearly see the projected images in clean and crisp detail, even on a bare wall. The further you move back, the wider the image gets, making the viewing experience even better.

If your projected image goes out of focus because you moved the projector, you can just give it a little shake, set it down, and the projector will re-focus itself from the new position.

If you have an Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 Smart Mini Projector, you might be able to eliminate the need to buy some obscenely huge TV for your living room or man cave just to watch the Super Bowl. Standing roughly six feet away from the wall, the projector gives a 70″ image that only needs minor tweaking.

When you initially boot up the Capsule II, its auto-laser-focus feature will figure out the distance between the projector and the surface you’ll be projecting on to give a clear picture for viewing. This feature works very well, but I still enjoyed going into the settings and tweaking things just a bit.

Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 smart mini projector

Is the video quality better than a 4K flat-screen TV? Of course not. But with its HD 720 resolution, the projector has a sharp image that gets the job done. You could easily enjoy a fellas night playing PS5 or have a chill TV night with your partner using the Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 Smart Mini Projector. But if you’ve trained your eyes to hate anything but bright and sharp 4K, you’ll be slightly disappointed.

Because the Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 Smart Mini Projector has 200 lumens of brightness, the best way to get the brightest picture is to use it indoors in a dimly lit room; if you are using it outdoors, wait until after sunset.

Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 smart mini projector

The Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 Smart Mini Projector is a great portable projector with a built-in speaker that is handy for keeping in the spare bedroom, using in the living room for movie night, keeping in the kids’ room, bringing on trips, and using for impromptu presentations at work or club events. The fact that it is dressed like R2-D2 makes it even more fun.

Before the recent price break on this R2-D2 edition, it might have been a tough sell for anyone but the most die-hard Star Wars fans to pay the Star Wars upcharge. I would have said that if you wanted to save some money, you could always get the standard black Capsule II and call it the Darth Vader edition if it made you feel better. But now, the Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 Smart Mini Projector is actually priced $20 below the standard black version, which makes it a better buy, in my opinion.

If you’ve wanted to get a portable projector, it would be hard to find one with so many excellent features and as much “wow” factor as the Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 Smart Mini Projector. Everyone who sees it in action wants one, and when you don’t need it, it is small enough to tuck away on a shelf — where it just looks like a cute Star Wars tchotchke until you’re ready to use it again.

The Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 Smart Mini Projector sells for $699.99 (currently priced at $549.99); it is available directly from the manufacturer and Amazon.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review unit

What I Like: Simple set-up walks you through connecting the projector to your Google account for all services and apps; Small and lightweight; 2.5 hours battery life; Built-in 8W 360º speaker; Runs Android TV 9; Supports Chromecast; Works with or without another device streaming to it; It can project up to a 100″ image with an HD resolution of 1280 x 720p; Star Wars fans will love the R2-D2 skin and start-up sounds

What Needs Improvement: The projector’s 8W speaker is plenty loud in smaller rooms but not quite strong enough for larger spaces or backyard use; Like all projectors, it works best in a dark room; Netflix isn’t natively compatible with the projector, but there is a work-around; It’s an aspirational gadget and a bit expensive

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About the Author

Greg Alston
Diehard Apple fanboy, and lover of all things tech. Born and raised in Washington, DC, Greg enjoys spending time with his wife, family, and friends, live sporting events, good bourbon, Tetris, and pizza. In that order.