Nebula, the subsidiary of Anker Innovations, has been impressing customers with high-quality and technically impressive projectors for some time now. In June 2023, the company presented the Mars 3, an outdoor projector with a long runtime and AI-controlled image adjustment. This is now being joined by an even more compact model that is ideal for traveling. Our Nebula Mars 3 Air test finds out what this device has to offer.
|Nebula Mars 3 Air
|120 mm x 114 mm x 167 mm
|1920 x 1080 pixels (Full HD)
|400 ANSI lumens
|Adjustable image size
|up to 150 inch
|Wi-Fi 5; Bluetooth 5.0
|2 x speakers with 8 watts each
|Range of functions
|€ 599.99 *
Nebula Mars 3 Air test: design and workmanship
- Very compact and lightweight
- Attractive design
- Impeccable build quality
As is typical for the manufacturer, the Nebula Mars 3 Air has a simple silver-colored design with red accents. In terms of size, it ranks between the “Cola can” projectors of the Capsule series and the Mars 3 and measures just 120 mm x 114 mm x 167 mm (width x height x depth) and weighs just 1,693 grams, making it absolutely suitable for traveling.
On the front, in the middle of the upper edge, we find the lens, a camera for image adjustment and the Nebula lettering set against a red background. Unfortunately, the Air does not have a cover for the lens like its big brother, for example.
Both sides are dominated by the speaker openings, while we can see a few connections and the fan outlet on the back. On the underside, the Mars 3 Air has an inch thread for mounting it on a stand, for example.
In terms of connections, the compact projector is quite well equipped. In addition to an AUX input, it has one HDMI and one USB type A. In addition to the wireless display of streaming content via Bluetooth 5.0 or Wi-Fi, it is also possible to play content from a smartphone, PC/notebook and more.
The controls are located on the top of the Nebula Mars 3 Air, which is interrupted in the middle by a practical carrying handle. However, if you prefer, you can also operate the device using the included remote control or the Nebula Connect smartphone app.
Despite the comparatively low weight, there is absolutely nothing to complain about in terms of workmanship. The device feels very high quality and robust, although an IP certification as water and dust protection is unfortunately conspicuous by its absence – so you’d better be careful outdoors in bad weather.
Setup, operation and practice
- Set up within a few seconds
- Automatic image correction works reliably and quickly
- High working speed; very good operation
The manufacturer promises that the Nebula Mars 3 Air is ready to go within seconds – and keeps this promise in practice. After switching on, the projector automatically performs image correction, which includes automatic keystone correction, automatic calibration, obstacle detection and, of course, autofocus.
This is done in next to no time and is extremely reliable. Obstacle avoidance and keystone correction in particular work flawlessly, something we are not used to seeing from significantly more expensive projectors.
Shortly afterwards, we can choose whether we want to set up the projector for Google TV or not link our account for the time being. After a brief introduction, we land directly in the main menu and are ready to go.
Apps such as Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video are already pre-installed – even if you decide to install them without a Google account. You can also choose from thousands of additional apps in the App Store. 16 gigabytes of internal memory offer more than enough space for storing apps.
The Google TV interface works flawlessly with the remote control and smartphone. Under the hood of the Nebula Mars 3 Air is a quad-core CPU with 2 GB of RAM, which ensures a fast and smooth experience.
Practical: The (illuminated) remote control even supports voice control via Google Assistant, allowing convenient navigation and operation. It also has dedicated buttons for Amazon Prime Video and Netflix to access the streaming providers directly.
The smartphone app, on the other hand, is rather rudimentary and only serves as an additional remote control, which we can use to navigate through the menus or adjust the volume using gestures or a virtual mouse – I would have liked a slightly wider range of functions here.
The operating volume is also pleasantly low, leveling off between 39 dB(A) and 42 dB(A) in our test and therefore not too disturbing. The significantly larger Yaber K2s (our test) is noticeably louder at 50 dB(A).
Picture quality of the Nebula Mars 3 Air
- Convincing 1080p picture with rich colors and strong contrasts
- Highly detailed image adjustments
- With 400 ANSI lumens only suitable for dark environments
Despite its compact size, the Nebula Mars 3 Air achieves a brightness of 400 ANSI lumens and reproduces the image in full HD quality (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) including high dynamic range (HDR). The maximum projection size is 150 inches, with a projection ratio of up to 1.2.
This means that the model does not quite reach the brightness of a Formovie Dice (our test), which achieves up to 700 ANSI lumens. Nevertheless, there is nothing to complain about in terms of image quality.
Thanks to its high brightness uniformity and wide color gamut coverage, the Mars 3 Air provides a cinematic feeling at home and on the go – albeit only in 1080p and especially in darkened rooms and environments, as even at medium room brightness the compact projector lacks a bit of luminosity to cast a rich image on the wall or other surfaces.
In dark environments, however, the picture is completely convincing and scores with rich colors and successful contrasts. The LED light source is also said to be particularly durable with a service life of 30,000 hours.
In addition, you can switch between three different picture modes in the menu or set up a completely user-defined profile in which, in addition to brightness, contrast and sharpness, gamma, color temperature or wall color can also be set, for example.
The only thing we missed was a zoom function with which the picture can be enlarged. Although this is available in the menu, the value can only be reduced in order to reduce the image area.
- Two 8-watt loudspeakers installed
- Good sound quality
- Practical Bluetooth speaker function
The small Nebula Mars 3 Air also has a lot to offer in terms of sound. The manufacturer has installed two 8-watt speakers that also support Dolby Audio.
The projector achieves an enormously high maximum volume – even a value of 20 percent is enough to mask the fan noise, and at a full 100 percent you could probably almost fill a small movie theater with sound – without distortion or unsightly peaks.
For a portable projector, there is nothing to complain about in terms of sound, but of course it cannot replace a home theater system, that is clear. If you like, you can even use the projector as a Bluetooth speaker and enjoy music on the go. It’s not a soundcore Motion 300 in terms of sound, but it’s certainly useful as an all-in-one solution.
Battery life of the Nebula Mars 3 Air
- Up to 2.5 hours runtime in eco mode
- 8 hours runtime as speaker
The Nebula Mars 3 Air has a 64.8 Wh battery, which is more than impressive considering its compact dimensions. This is enough for two and a half hours of playback, which means that even longer blockbusters can be streamed.
However, this value only applies in Eco mode, which is activated by default in battery mode and reduces the brightness of the image. With pure music playback, a runtime of up to eight hours is possible.
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Nebula Mars 3 Air test: Conclusion
With the Nebula Mars 3 Air, the Anker subsidiary is by no means reinventing the wheel in the portable projector sector – after all, there are many strong competitors in this price segment, such as the XGIMI Halo – but the projector doesn’t really make any mistakes either.
The compact design and low weight make the Mars 3 Air a convincing companion for vacations or excursions, which also scores with a strong Full HD image and flawless automatic image alignment.
The projector also does a lot right in terms of sound (even as a Bluetooth speaker) and impresses with intuitive and smooth operation, while a wide range of apps are available to download thanks to the Google TV interface.
Only the maximum brightness of 400 ANSI lumens could have been higher, as a dark environment is essential for good picture quality. A zoom function would also have been nice, but otherwise there is not much to criticize about the overall package.
This puts the Nebula Mars 3 Air on the shortlist of the best portable projectors and makes it a very good investment if you are looking for something like this. I, for one, could well imagine buying it for vacation and travel.