two minute review
The Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K is no ordinary compact projector. It’s packing considerable brightness and a laser lamp that creates a high-quality image in a format you can pick up and take from room to room. With built-in speakers and an included streaming stick that hides behind a cover, it still has the ability to power your entire entertainment setup for whatever space you take it into. That’s not a bad deal for a $2,199 gadget.
2,400 lumens is enough for many scenarios such as a dark backyard, a living room with a little ambient light, and even a brightly lit room as long as you’re watching bright content like cartoons and sitcoms. With good control of your ambient lighting, you can enjoy an excellent image from the Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K that does an impressive job of balancing brightness with contrast while delivering the HDR color pop we’re getting used to. It doesn’t match the theater-level performance of the Epson LS12000 or match the color of the triple laser Hisense L9Gbut it’s not far behind for a projector that costs well under half of those competitors.
There are a few projectors you can get in the same stadium with a brighter 4K image, but you’ll be hard pressed to find any that have the flexibility of the Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K for $2,199 (about £1,740, AU$3,055). Some may be cheaper, but they usually use a traditional projection lamp instead of the long-lasting laser light source Anker used here. Anker receives notable competition from Optoma Cinema X P2 which we’ve seen recently costing $2,299, providing an even brighter, laser-based image, although it’s an ultra-short-throw model that isn’t as portable or flexible in configuration, but would make a better dedicated home theater display.
The Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K has a few quirks to note. Action is poorly handled when there is camera movement, making this an ideal option for action movie aficionados. Latency is also an issue for gamers. It’s not too bad that casual play is off the cards, but it’s too slow for competitive or serious play. We also see some weird behavior with HDR, but it’s very choppy and the sort of thing a hardware update can fix.
The Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K has a lot of competition, but if you want a projector that regularly works in many different places in your home, there are few options that will do it as well and as easily as this one.
price and availability
The Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K is available for $2,199 (about £1,740, AU$3,055), while a 1080p model is available for $1,699.
Design and features
- Compact design and easy to carry
- Projector, speakers, streaming stick all in one
The Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K is an amazing package. The unit is the size of a small picnic basket and really looks like one with its square shape and handle cutting through the top. It’s a projector made to be easily transported.
On the front are several sensors and a considerably large lens for projection. Built-in sensors provide automatic focus and keystone, making it easy to set up the projector without having to dial in settings to define exact placement. The lens doesn’t have optical zoom, so you’ll have to make do with digital zooming to scale the image down to fit a space, and that means lost pixels and image detail. Keystone is also digital, which means they will cost some of the image quality if used, so it becomes a matter of quality or convenience. Theoretically, autoframing is also on deck, but we couldn’t get it to work in our tests.
As this is a bright laser-based projector, Anker has included an eye protection feature that dims the lighting if it detects someone too close in front of the projector. Given the number of times people were caught looking directly into the beam during our testing, this is a useful feature.
The Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K is a complete package. It’s housing four speakers – two full-range 10-watt speakers and two 5-watt tweeters. It also has a streaming stick that fits into a small compartment on the back of the projector. This is convenient when moving the drive as it is not a loose dongle at the back and is potentially upgradable or replaceable later. Replacing might be the most palatable move, as the streaming stick isn’t all that impressive. It often left us waiting for it to respond to entries for a long time. On the other hand, it comes with proper Netflix support, something that many high-end projectors (like the Hisense L9G and all Xgimi projectors) continue to lack.
In addition to the HDMI port used for the included streaming stick, there’s an HDMI port on the back for an extra video source. The streaming stick can wirelessly connect to audio devices via Bluetooth 5.0 or the projector can connect to other speakers with a 3.5mm aux cable. External audio is a good idea in general, although the projector’s speakers sound fairly well balanced and do a decent job in a small, quiet room. They won’t be enough to power a noisy room with people talking or a fan on.
Although the projector can have the image distortion and zoom adjusted, it would be useful to have adjustable feet to change the projection angle. As it stands, we used a stack of small books to prop up each end for testing.
The Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K comes with a remote, but it’s strangely limited to just controlling the streaming stick’s functions. Adjusting image settings such as focus, zoom, color modes and so on is not done via the remote control. That means inconveniently using the projector’s built-in buttons or your smartphone control app to navigate.
- Bright 4K image
- Some HDR tripping
- Long-lasting laser light source
The Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K brings impressive performance to such a compact projector. While several other projectors we’ve tested, like the Hisense L9G, can serve as a home-theater-in-a-box, the Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K is a home theater option. It peaks at 2,400 Lumens, which is bright enough for a semi-light controlled environment. Closing the blinds in a living room and dimming the lights is enough to provide a pleasant mid-day viewing experience, while complete darkness results in a fantastic picture that allows contrast and color to show through more robustly. It’s acceptable for casual viewing, even with darker content in a slightly dark room, while sitcoms and cartoons do just fine without managing ambient light. And that’s from our experience with the image stretched well over 100 inches on our wall. Using a projector screen or downsizing can make the image even better.
There are now cheaper projectors that can achieve that brightness, but Anker is bringing a 4K image (still through pixel shift) that is sharp enough even when zoomed in to large proportions and even if the image’s pixel count is reduced by means of digital zoom and distortion. That glow also comes from a laser light source with a specified lifespan of up to 25,000 hours. There may be a small rainbow effect, but we hardly notice it.
Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K Specifications
Supported screen sizes: 60-150 inches | 8K: No | HDR: Yes | Optical technology: DLP laser | SmartTV: Yes (Android TV 10.0)| Dimensions: 10.4 x 8.7 x 6.5 in | Weight: 10.7 pounds | 3D: No | connections: HDMI 2.0 input, 3.5mm analog audio output; USB Type-A powered, Bluetooth 5.0
We’re glad to see that the projector doesn’t come with abominable motion interpolation right out of the box. Interestingly, we didn’t see any motion tweening options. This may be good news for some, but it may stem from a lack of prowess in this area. Watching Captain America: Civil War, we really noticed the projector struggling to keep playback smooth during action sequences with a lot of characters and camera movements happening. It wasn’t ruining the experience, but it certainly fell short of its competition and would make it one to avoid if you’re into action movies. This goes double for serious games, where motion and noticeable input lag would get in the way.
This wasn’t the only problem we noticed in the photo. With HDR enabled, we saw some strange quirks in the way it processed certain content. Namely, Amazon’s Sneaky Pete occasionally had scenes with the wrong color treated, leading to some bizarre posterization and color banding. The problem didn’t show up in any other content we’ve seen, but it persisted in episodes of all three seasons of Sneaky Pete, both from the included streaming stick and a Chromecast with Google TV, and would happen the same way if we rewind to watch the scene again. This suggested that certain HDR signals will be misinterpreted. The problem went away with HDR turned off, but this leads to a significantly duller image with a lot of life sucked out. HDR can also deepen shadows, which can make it difficult to see content without reducing ambient light in the room.
However, it’s not all bad for the HDR image, which for the most part can be quite lush. The throne room fight scene in Star Wars: The Last Jedi was rich in reds of the setting and characters, and the assault on the rebel base shortly afterward maintained excellent image quality.
Should I buy the Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K projector?
You want a powerful projector that you can carry
The Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K is a shiny little animal that’s easy to carry. It might make some trade-offs in the name of portability, but at the end of the day it has a lot of merit. It’s a shame it doesn’t work on battery power.
You want easy image settings
Anker hardware handles a lot of noise for you. It can automatically distort and focus and reduce the image manually, making it a set-and-forget device.
You don’t want to replace the light bulb
The 25,000 hour life of the Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K laser light engine means you never need to change it. When the light bulb goes out, we’ll likely all be watching 32K content with AR glasses.
Do not buy if…
Are you an action movie junkie?
The projector has a weak point and it is an intense movement. Whether it’s video games or action movie sequences with a lot of camera movement, it won’t recreate that movement as well as we’d like.
You want an option you can really take anywhere
Without a battery, the Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K isn’t exactly portable. It’s easy to take it from place to place, but you’ll still need AC power to use it. Anker and Xgimi have some alternative options for battery-powered projection.
You’re not too picky about 4K
Brightness and resolution certainly go well together, but if the 4K image isn’t that crucial, you can save a lot of money with the Xgimi horizon (the 1080p variant) or even the 1080p Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser projector.