Nebula Mars Lite Review – A Cinema-Grade Portable Projector Under $400?

Nebula Mars Lite Review - front

Let’s just put the Chinese projector aside for a short time and focus on the international ones. Today, we will be reviewing Anker’s latest ‘Nebula Mars Lite’ which as you can see from the name, is the Lite version of the previous Nebula Mars projector. So what’s new this time in the successor of Nebula Mars, apart from $200 price reduction? Let’s find out in this Nebula Mars Lite review.

First, summarizing the complete specs, Nebula Mars Lite is a cheaper and light version of the previous Nebula featuring the same portability but with a slightly reduced brightness, no screen mirroring, and no dedicated Android OS. Because of these features missing, the Nebula Mars Lite is relatively cheaper than Nebula Mars, priced at 369.99 USD. So, without further wasting any of your precious time, let’s dive into the Nebula Mars Lite review:

Nebula Mars Lite Review – Is It Worth The Title ‘Cinema Grade Under $400?’

Design & Appearance

Starting with the design first, Nebula Mars Lite carries a lunch-box-style layout similar to the OBE V1 Plus Projector. Though not a pico projector, it’s almost a perfect cube occupying a space of 9.1 x 8.7 x 8.7 inches and weighing only 1.98 kg (4.37 pounds). The projector is lightweight despite the premium metal and plastic build, oh and the leather belt around it.

Nebula Mars Lite Review - front

In terms of appearance, it’s almost elegant as the OBE V1 Plus but slightly lower since we miss the rugged pattern leather casing. However, we do like the layout of Nebula Mars Lite which has the upper hand in comparison to OBE V1 Plus. It’s just purely jet black which lusters in our eyes and is slightly different with the bright black color on the bezels and boundaries.

On the front, we have a relatively large Led projection area (as well as IR, sensor) with a shutter to protect the LED bulb when it’s not in use. The circle shape shutter takes about 30% of the area on the front. The shutter opens and closes effortlessly. When it’s completely close we can witness a writing printed on it. Indeed, a large circular shutter on a cube-shaped projector reflects some cute appearance.

Nebula Mars Lite Review - Front lens

In comparison to the standard Nebula Mars, the lens is half the size and that is why the Lite version has relatively lesser lumens than it. But the placement is at the center top which reflects a nice symmetry than a LED lens placed at a side like in the old Nebula Mars. At the front bottom, we have the name of the product ‘Nebula’ engraved.

Meanwhile, at the rear, we have all the connectivity ports available along with the vents for an improved heat dissipation, to ensure that the temperature of the projector is optimal. It’s a good thing that the manufacturer has shifted all ports at one side which includes the DC-in, HDMI, and 3.5mm audio jack along with the reset and power button.

Nebula Mars Lite Review - Rear

We really love when the manufacturer provides complete navigation buttons on the chassis. And Anker’s Nebula Lite is no exception. Present at the top, we have the beautiful navigation buttons along with a Bluetooth, return button and volume rocker. Though, they aren’t that much practical in projectors since we have the Airplay and remote control with us. But however, if the remote and smartphone are missing, this navigation controls can become quite handy.

Nebula Mars Lite Review - Design

Nebula Lite features two rich-sound 10W JBL speakers, present at the left and right side of the projector. You can clearly see two sides completely covered for the speakers, nothing else. Unlike the traditional projectors, this one isn’t pointy from the edges but instead are highly curved to further exaggerate its beauty.

The bottom has the rubber pads along with the mounting space making it anti-skid on slippery surfaces as well as mountable to a tripod stand or a wall mount. The leather strap/belt of the top is comfortable while holding the projector. The fingers don’t hurt while bearing almost 2kg thanks to the wavy design on the belt.

In short, the ‘Lite’ version of the Nebula Mars almost has the same curvy and jet black design with a better symmetrical design than the expensive Mars.

Hardware & Features

The projector features the RGB LED as the light source, which has low input lags in comparison to the DLP ones. There’s some marketing aspect which we didn’t like about the projector. First, Anker claims that it supports 4K. Don’t confuse with 4K resolution projection, instead, it only plays 4K video and resizes it to its native resolution which is 1280 × 720p HD. thinking of getting a 4K projector under $400 is simply outlandish.

The Lite version has wired connectivity including the AUX-In, USB port, and HDMI port. Sadly, unlike Nebula Mars, there’s no wireless option such as WiFi and Bluetooth. You might get confused that since there’s no wireless connectivity, why we see a Bluetooth button on the top. Well, the 10W JBL speakers integrated under the hood – nothing ground-breaking can work as Bluetooth speakers as well. These speakers though can’t be compared with a home theatre, however, gets pretty loud with nice bass for a small crowd. A small room support is what you will be getting for those 300 ANSI lumens.

Moreover, another hidden gem is the wireless cast feature aka Miracast which allows you to projector your smartphone’s media on the projector.

Surprisingly, Nebula Lite has the autofocus feature in it instead of a manual one like in it’s expensive older brother. We will also be missing the manual keystone correction as well.

OS & Battery

Since we are missing the Android OS, it doesn’t mean that there will be no OS on the projector. There’s a bare-bones OS from Anker with a limited few operative UI. Even if there’s no Android, the titles are attractive and we only see five titles on the home screen, HDMI, Bluetooth Speaker, Wireless Cast, USB, and settings.

Nebula Mars Lite Review - OS

We witnessed a slight delay while selecting and navigating through the titles. The OS isn’t that responsive and has the default video player which resizes every video to 1,280 x 800 pixels. As a result, you will find most of the videos stretched. But we guess that anything is better than nothing. Instead of buying the older Mars which is almost $200 expensive, you can simply buy an Amazon Fire TV Stick, plug it in and enjoy the best Android TV OS.

Another selling point apart from the design is the battery life of Nebula Mars Lite. Anker claims that a 100% battery will survive for 3 hours on a single charge. It pretty much did. Even while powering the SNES Classic, it went slightly past two hours. We think that if we played something straight out of the HDMI port without eating up additional juice from the USB port that we could squeeze three hours out of this thing which is ideal for watching a complete movie. We bet that this tremendous 13500mAh 3.8V battery will be counting 20 to 40% in total weight of the projector.

Projection Quality

Though it doesn’t have the brightness of the Cinema Projector, but the 150-inch max projection makes it a cinema projector alternative under $400.

Last but not the least, comes the most important part of the Nebula Mars Lite review, which is the projection and its quality. Like previously said, the projector projects an HD resolution projection (1,280 x 800 pixels/800p) at a size range of 20-150 inch from a short distance of 0.5 m to 3 m. Since it’s LED the contrast ratio is 1000:1 and the picture appears to be sharp enough.

We would suspect that 50 to 80 inches would be the sweet spot to display images without any degradation. Projecting at 150 inches looked fine, just not optimal. The unit automatically adjusts its focus using some sort of sensor, and it seems to work fine most of the time; though while trying out larger screen sizes we’ve noticed that we had to manually override its focus just a bit.

The brightness of 3000 lumens (300 ANSI lumens) is neither that bad nor that good considering the price tag. You can simply find 3000 above lumens Chinese projectors under this price tag, however, those projectors won’t promise a picture quality as good as this one (there’s a huge difference between the lumens and US ANSI lumens). It’s ideal to have a bright image at night or in low-light/shade. However, you might just not want it to be running under sunlight without a slightly visible content difficult to see. In the projection samples, the image appears to be crispy and bright in the best environment which is, of course, a dark room. The image projected is sharp but not as good as the real HD ones.

Specs Sheet

Power supply: DC 19V
Power consumption: < 57W
Standby power consumption: < 0.5W
Display technology: 0.3inch, 1280×720p DLP
Light source: RGB LED
Projection image size: 20~150 inch
Resolution: 1280×720
Brightness: 300 ANSI Lumens
Contrast ratio: 1000: 1
Throw ratio: 1.2
Throw distance: 0.5 m to 3 m
Speaker drivers: 2× 10W
Built-in battery type: Li-Polymer
Capacity: 13500mAh, 3.8V
Operating time: 3 hours
Remote control batteries: 2× CR2032
Recommended ambient temp: 41°F to 95°F
Relative humidity: 15%-85% (non-condensing)
Storage temperature and humidity: < 149°F, < 90% humidity
Dimensions (W×H×D): 4.8×5.4×7 in
Weight: 66.7 oz

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Premium Lunchbox-style Built
  • Built-in 10W JBL speakers
  • 1-second Autofocusing
  • Sharp and vivid projection
  • Wireless cast added
  • Good battery life (2 to 3 hours)

Cons

  • Default Media Player Stretches Every Video to Native Resolution
  • No Wireless Connectivity
  • No keystone correction

Our Verdict

Ending the Nebula Mars Lite review, is this projector really a Cinema Grade projector under $400? Well, considering the picture quality/brightness, 150-inch max projection and those 10W speakers, yes it is. Meanwhile, considering the speakers’ range, no it isn’t.

While the OS and the brightness might be the downside, the compact and premium design, built-in JBL speakers, nearly HD projection with sharp colors, quick AF, and battery support overcomes these downsides under such a small size. And there’s nothing that an Amazon Fire TV Stick can fix, as an alternative to that OS of the projector.

Price & Availability

One can purchase the Nebula Mars Lite projector from Amazon for a price of $369.99. Here’s the link to the store:

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