We tested the Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K projector and were blown away by the picture and sound quality on offer. Plus, it has all our favorite streaming apps built in. Yes, it’s a bit big, and we’d love it to be battery-powered, but for cinema nights in seconds, it’s hard to beat.
Great 4K image quality
Streaming apps built-in
Mains power only
Expensive compared to the competition
The Home Of Outdoor Living
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The Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K is a big box of portable projector fun that boasts the best hi-resolution image quality and, thanks to the use of laser rather than LED technology, is seriously bright. Moreover, as we’ve come to expect from Nebula devices, it is easy to set up and get watching in just a few minutes.
As well as 4K resolution and a whopping screen size of up to 150”, the Cosmos 4K has four speakers (30W total) with Dolby Audio and comes with a streaming stick that hides neatly in the back and offers instant access to all your favorite streaming services using Android TV 10.0. There’s even Google voice assistance if you prefer chatting to using the remote.
It is at the premium end of the best outdoor projectors, but the extra investment really does yield a bigger, brighter, sharper image. But is it the best available for garden movie nights, or can you find an alternative projector that suits your needs better? We popped some corn and pulled up a deckchair to find out.
Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K: Key specs
- Type: LCD Laser
- Resolution: 4K
- Brightness: 2400 lumens
- Max screen size: 150"
- Smart TV: Android TV 10 streaming stick included
- Speakers: 2 x 10W, 2 x 5W
- Dimensions: 35 x 10 x 24cm
- Weight: 3.3kg
About this review, and the reviewer
Chris is a freelance writer for Gardeningetc, lending his tech expertise to reviews and product roundups for the site. He has also worked for sites such as T3, Wired, Livingetc and more, and covers everything from speakers to projectors. A sample of the Nebula Cosmos 4K was kindly supplied for review purposes, and Chris spent several weeks testing the outdoor projector in his own home and garden.
Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K: Set-up
One of the brilliant things we've noticed about Anker Nebula projectors is just how simple they are to set up and use. With the Cosmos Laser 4K, this is no different, and it took us less than five minutes before we could watch a movie on a massive screen. Once plugged in, you need to connect the streaming stick – a compartment at the back that takes 20 seconds – and download the Nebula Connect app to your smartphone (iOS, Android). Once you turn it on, the display will take you through the rest of the setup.
Creating a good screen is also easy, thanks to auto-focus and automatic keystone correction. You may need to place the projector on a side table or pile of books – an upturned trug also worked for us outside. It has a tripod mount in the base, plus you don't have to have the projector facing directly onto a wall to create a straight image as the clever software compensates and adjusts the angle for you. Of course, the more the projector adjusts, the more it will degrade the image quality, so pointing it straight on will ensure the best performance. But, a few degree adjustments shouldn't be that noticeable.
The lens is fixed, so the only way to make the image bigger is to move the projector further away, but we managed to project a 60" screen from around 1.6m and a whopping 150" design at 4.4m – that was almost as wide as the back of the house. Impractical but impressive!
There are six picture modes available and five audio options to choose from, and if you do like to tinker, you can adjust the focus and keystone correction manually.
The Nebula Connect app is essentially a remote control – with a choice of cursor or touchpad style controls and easy-to-use keyboards that makes inputting passwords for Wi-Fi and streaming platforms quick and easy. In addition, streaming services such as Disney+ and Netflix are downloaded to the projector automatically, which makes accessing vast amounts of content painless. The supplied remote control works well, but when it comes to inputting passwords, the app is much easier.
As with most all-in-one projectors, the Cosmos 4K relies on apps for streaming content over Wi-Fi, but you can also connect a separate device – laptop or Blu-ray player, for instance – via HDMI and USB ports. It can also work as a powerful Bluetooth speaker. There's no onboard memory here, but that won't be too much of an issue as the projector needs mains power, so it can't stray too far from the house.
Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K: Performance
The Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K has the best picture quality we’ve seen from a portable all-in-one projector. The images are crisp, vibrant, and seriously bright. In addition, 2,400 Lumens brightness means you can start your backyard movie night before dusk and still actually see the screen, which isn’t always the case with portable projectors.
But if you can get a garden room dark enough, the 4K resolution is exceptional, and we became addicted to its big screen (around 100” in the spare room) performance. It’s worth remembering that most streamed content isn’t in 4K resolution yet, but the projector’s processor does a great job making the very best of whatever quality you feed into it.
This enjoyment is backed up by great speakers, which manage the deep rumble of action and high frequencies of dialogue with aplomb. Sometimes we forgot the sound was coming out of a single box, which is high praise indeed. The fan is also impressively quiet.
If we’re being hyper-critical, the Cosmos 4K struggles a bit when the action is very fast, and some people might find the color contrast quite bold, but there are various adjustments and modes you can play with to find your favorite display. You can also adjust the sound to suit, pushing dialogue up in the mix, for instance, if you struggle to hear it over sound effects, etc.
Yes, we’d love it to be truly portable and battery-powered, but that just isn’t practical given the brightness and projector power on offer.
The remote control is simple and effective, with dedicated launch buttons for Netflix, Disney +, Amazon Prime, and YouTube. The Nebula app is much simpler to use, especially when inputting passwords and searching content, although you can also use Google Assistant voice search.
It’s worth noting that if you don’t need 4K resolution, Anker also offers the same design, with the same 2,400-lumen brightness, but with 1080p Full HD for a little less.
Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K: Design
The Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K is a good-looking box of tricks, with a grown-up aesthetic and chunky but practical integrated handle. It isn't as funky as the BenQ GV30 or as dull as the Epson EF-12 but certainly looks expensive, which is just as well given the price.
At 35cm tall, it is quite a big box, making it much harder to find cupboard space for it when not needed. This is especially true when compared to the compact Nebula Mars II Pro or Nebula Capsule, but remember, the extra size means better sound and picture quality.
One thing we appreciate about the design is that Anker has included an eye-guard feature that dims the lighting if it detects someone too close to the front of the projector. Of course, looking directly at a laser is bad news for your eyes, so this is a handy feature to have.
We've mentioned the remote control and smartphone app, but you'll also find a complete collection of touch-sensitive buttons on the projector's top that light up when you touch the surface.
Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K: Sustainability and longevity
Projector power usage varies greatly, with the smallest battery-powered designs using just 50W and the larger home cinema options pulling a whopping 800W. The Nebula Cosmos 4K uses around 200W of power consumption, which is relatively high and explains why it isn’t battery-powered. Standby energy consumption is just 0.5W, which is good, though.
This Nebula Cosmos 4K laser lamp technology has been designed to last up to 25,000 hours of playing at full power, so it should, if treated with care, last for decades. Sadly, the user can’t replace the bulb if it fails, although Anker does offer a repair service.
Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K vs Epson EF-12
The Cosmos Laser 4k is a premium-priced all-in-one mains-powered smart projector with class-leading 4K Ultra High-Resolution images and superb audio from four speakers. It’s big, bold, and performs impressively, but if your budget doesn’t stretch as far, the Full HD 1080p Epson EF-12, available on Amazon (opens in new tab), could suit you better. It isn’t as bright, so it needs dark conditions to work at its best, but the picture quality is superb, and it sounds punchy for the size. Most people probably won’t need Ultra HD if the projector is going to be used casually, so it’s worth thinking about the features you really need before investing.
Nebula Cosmos 4K: Our verdict
If the asking price isn’t too daunting, the Nebula Cosmos 4K is a superb all-in-one portable projector. The screen size, image quality, and sound are superb, and we loved spending our evenings bingeing big screen movies and box sets with it. Yes, it’s a shame there’s no built-in battery, but we think the extra brightness is a compromise worth taking.
The 4K Ultra High-Definition resolution and 2,400-lumens brightness are seriously impressive for a portable projector. The image produced is brilliantly detailed and will happily upscale lower resolution video feeds, making them look better than they should. You can also enjoy the Cosmos 4K in quite bright conditions, making it a good choice for providing entertainment at a garden party, although it will always look better with the curtains closed and lights dimmed, just like in the cinema.
Is it worth the price? This depends on what sort of cinema experience you’re looking for. If all you need is a fun projector for the kids to enjoy Pixar movies on the back garden fence, the Cosmos 4K is overkill. Still, you should be seriously tempted if you want a great cinema experience with go-anywhere flexibility without needing a complex home cinema setup.