Twenty years ago, owning a projector was like owning a high-end sportscar: if you had one, you were either A) doing very well for yourself, or B) hurtling toward bankruptcy while pretending to be doing very well for yourself. But the advent of streaming video has changed things, and dramatically.
No longer does a projector necessitate a slew of specialized equipment to transmit content from a cable box or satellite, nor a dedicated room in your home whose sole purpose is to house it. In fact, projectors have in many cases become cheaper, easier alternatives to owning a TV: they connect seamlessly to content on your tablet or phone, giving you a big-screen experience anywhere you've got a blank patch of ceiling or wall space on which to map them.
And, vitally, they are getting smaller every day — super portable “pocket” projectors have become a class of product unto themselves, and two of them are currently crowdfunding for 2019 deliveries (and well beyond their campaign goals): Kickstarter's Nebula Capsule II and Indiegogo's PIQO.
As for which one is right for you? We've got the tale of the tape below.
THE NEBULA CAPSULE II
Picture quality and size: 720p HD with a 20"-100" picture size and built-in auto-focusing technology
Brightness: 200 lumens, which doubles the output of the original capsule, which Gear Patrol dubbed best best in class
Size: A 3" x 3" x 6" cylinder ... or about the size of a standard pint glass
Streaming capabilities: 3,600+ streaming apps available on the device itself via Android technology, including YouTube, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Netflix is NOT available on the device itself, but you can also mirror a smartphone or tablet via Chromecast or an HDMI/USB connection, and play music via Bluetooth.
Sound: Internal, bass-prominent speaker by ScanSpeak that is 60% more powerful than the original Capsule (the unit also doubles as a portable Bluetooth speaker). Plus: voice-activated commands via an internal Google Assistant.
Playback: Up to 7 hours per charge
Expected delivery: May 2019
Price: $399 (expected MSRP $599)
Picture quality: 1080p full HD with clarity up to a 240-inch projection size
Brightness: 200 lumens, same as above
Size: A 2.5" x 2.5" x 2.5" cube. It will actually fit in your pocket, if a bit awkwardly.
Streaming capabilities: PIQO is also powered by Android, with more than 3 million apps available via the Google Play store, including Netflix. You can also mirror screens from a device, and play music via Bluetooth.
Sound: Internal “hi-fi” speaker from former Harmon Kardon and BOSE engineers
Playback: Up to 5 hours per charge
Expected delivery: March 2019
Price: $325 (MSRP $700)
Look, if you're the kind of person who likes to stand by products that are tried and true, go with the Nebula Capsule II. It's an improved version of the award-winning Capsule in terms of both sound and picture quality, and it's made by one of the most trusted names in tech, Anker. But if you're willing to roll the dice a bit — which sometimes pays off with crowdfunding campaigns — the PIQO actually promises stronger specs in quite a few areas: larger projection sizes, higher picture clarity, the inclusion of an internal Netflix app, and above all, greater portability thanks to its micro dimensions. We also like the cube shape, which means that it will rest easily on your bed if you want to stream video on the ceiling. And streaming video on the ceiling is really the dream, isn't it?
Nota bene: If you buy through the links in this article, InsideHook may earn a small share of the profits.
All images via Nebula and PIQO