Becoming a Projector Person: Embracing a New Way of Living

I’ve recommended plenty of their products over the years and have been tempted to check out an Anker Nebula projector for some time. Just ahead of the holidays, I contacted the company to check out a review unit, and shopped around for a decently priced projector screen. The story of how I ended up with a 100-inch projector screen in my bedroom is an entirely unexciting combination of pricing, comparison shopping and reading reviews. Released earlier this year, the Anker Nebula Capsule 3 is more or less exactly what I’ve been looking for in a projector. Factor in the projector screen and that’s another $70 in my case.

I’ve always been one of those people who proudly proclaim, “I don’t own a TV.” It’s been my lifestyle for as long as I can remember, except for those few times when a roommate brought their own television into our living space. The reason behind my choice is somewhat hazy now, after all these years, but at the time, it seemed like the right decision for me. However, as a hardware reviewer, this lifestyle can sometimes pose challenges.

“At some point, it’s a lifestyle you settle into – one that can occasionally make your job as a hardware reviewer a bit of a hassle.”

But over the past decade, the line between owning and not owning a television has become increasingly blurred. What defines a television has changed, making it difficult to distinguish between owning and not owning one. As a cord cutter, my experience is like being on a never-ending journey aboard the Ship of Theseus. Along the way, I’ve cut ties with terrestrial television and cable companies, embracing the digital age.

Movies, live television, and sports have all adapted to the new digital realm. The question now is how much we want our home setup to resemble the traditional models. For me, live television is not a priority, and as a result of my personal values, I no longer support professional sports. My viewing experience has evolved from watching shows and movies on my laptop to watching them on my tablet. In the intervening years, it’s becoming clear that my stance against owning a television was rendered arbitrary, except for two things: space and money.

When it comes to owning a television, two factors have always held me back: limited space and the cost. Admittedly, the prices of televisions have dropped significantly in recent years, but for someone living in a city like New York on a journalist’s salary, space is always a concern.

I’ve often considered getting a projector instead, but in the past, I found the price and ease of use to be lacking compared to traditional television options. But in the twelve years since its inception, Anker has become a major player in the world of accessories. The company has consistently struck a balance between price, quality, and innovative designs. Over the years, I’ve recommended many Anker products, and I’ve always been tempted to try out their Nebula projector.

With the holidays approaching, I reached out to Anker for a review unit and went shopping for a projector screen. My initial plan was to get a 70-80 inch screen, unsure if anything larger would fit in my living room or bedroom. Even at the lower end, this is significantly bigger than your average television, which usually ranges from 30-65 inches.

The story of how I ended up with a 100-inch screen in my bedroom is rather unremarkable – I did some price comparisons and read some reviews. But now, instead of watching TV on my iPad, I have to step around a movie screen every time I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

“Screens are like so many other things in tech; once you get used to it, you suddenly wonder how you managed to survive so many years without it.”

Released earlier this year, the Anker Nebula Capsule 3 is the perfect projector for me. It’s compact, about the size and shape of a soda can, easy to use, and completely self-contained. The price is an interesting factor; it retails for $800, but can frequently be found for $50 less on sites like Amazon.

For a couple hundred dollars, you can get a 60-inch 1080p smart TV. As with any big purchase, it’s important to weigh the cost and benefits. A 100-inch TV can cost over a thousand dollars, but the Capsule can project images up to 120 inches. Plus, add in the cost of a projector screen (around $70 in my case), and you have a cost-effective alternative to a traditional TV. My screen is simply a PVC pipe frame with a white sheet stretched taut across it.

The Capsule also has a Bluetooth speaker and built-in Chromecast, which are definite advantages. However, the downside is that the image quality is only optimal in a completely dark room, even with the use of laser projection technology. And you have to find a good spot to place the projector to avoid obstructions. There’s also a calibration process that needs to be done each time you move the projector or screen.

But don’t be intimidated by the calibration process – the Capsule does a decent job of automatically adjusting and shrinking the screen size to avoid obstacles. I’ve often found myself using the remote or the Nebula app to fine-tune the dimensions for my screen.

In terms of portability and compact design, the Nebula is top-notch. I’ve only used it at home, so it stays plugged in most of the time. But it can last about 2.5 hours on a single charge, which is enough for plenty of movies (as long as they’re not directed by Martin Scorsese). When the weather gets warmer, I can’t wait to take the projector outside and roll up the screen for a movie night under the stars.

At $800, the Capsule is definitely a replacement for traditional television rather than a secondary screen. For some, the need for complete darkness and the calibration process might be a deal-breaker. But for those seriously considering a home projector, the Capsule 3 from Anker is hands down the best option – portable, easy to use, and affordable.

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Ava Patel

Ava Patel is a cultural critic and commentator with a focus on literature and the arts. She is known for her thought-provoking essays and reviews, and has a talent for bringing new and diverse voices to the forefront of the cultural conversation.

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