Home projection can seem like a premium experience, however thanks to technology advancements and the introduction of LED lamp projectors, their entry-level price is ever decreasing, to a point where you can pick up a fairly capable home projector for just a few hundred dollars.
The Anker owned Nebula Prizm is it a fairly small-size projector that, thanks to its low $109.99 from Amazon price tag, is designed to make premium entertainment experiences accessible to all. With built-in audio, HDMI and USB input (.mp4 and .mov files) and a 30,000 hour RGB LED lamp lifespan, there is plenty of like about the Prizm.
Out of the box the Prizm looks the part, with its white plastic exterior to its grey fabric covered top, it is a style that will easily fit in any modern stylish room decor. It’s a refreshing approach than the more common silver or black plastic ugly boxes you see from other makers.
Almost everything you need comes bundled in with the Prizm. You get the projector itself, a figure-8 power cable, and also a white Amazon Fire TV-like remote to interact with the projectors various inputs and functions. If HDMI is going to be your main source of input, it is worth pointing out that the Prizm doesn’t come bundled with an HDMI cable, so be sure you buy or dig one out yourself.
Firing the Prizm up, by pressing on the power button at the back of the unit (or via the remote), you’ll notice that projector’s fairly quiet fan kick into life. I always thought with LED lamp projectors you have less of a requirement for cooling in the projector, but this challenges that view. Still, the fan is certainly not ‘ultra-quiet’ and it will be noticeable during quiet periods in TV or Film viewing, especially if you’re seeing nearby, which is likely with a projector that is this portable.
Once the lamp is up and illuminated you’ll notice the projectors built-in software dashboard cast on to the wall or screen you have set up for it. From here you can select the input source you desire to play media from, be it HDMI, an attached USB disk or streaming via a Wirecast compatible device.
Additional menu options include Settings, which allows you to change language, display mode (bright/standard), projection location (front/rear/upside down etc.), keystone correction and firmware. Finally, the About menu lists the model and system version. I don’t know why these need to be in their own section where they could have been bundled in the settings menu instead.
For my test, I used my Apple iPad Pro using an HDMI cable plugged into a USB-C to HDMI adapter. Switching the Prizm over to HDMI I saw my iPad Pro screen projected onto my wall. Under the right light conditions, the 100 ANSI / 500 lumens and 1000:1 contrast ratio was comfortable and bright enough for a dark room. If you plan on using the Prizm in anything brighter, this projector’s brightness just isn’t powerful enough to cast a strong enough picture.
Its native resolution is 800×480, which is a little disappointing for projectors currently selling today, but considering the price, the 480p screen is ok for the occasional, casual viewing, or for use in a child’s bedroom. Its built-in 5W speaker is perfect for the use with the latter, it’s more than loud enough, and because it is all built-in there is no need for separate speakers or cables to worry about when entertaining the kids. Its internal fan can be just about drowned out by setting the volume to maximum, and it is less obvious the further away you sit from the projector.
Unlike some projectors in this price range, it is a shame it didn’t come with a built-in OS, like Android TV. This would have allowed you to run applications such as Netflix directly. With that said, though, you can connect a Roku Streaming Stick or an Amazon Fire TV stick into the HDMI port. I connected my iPad Pro running Netflix and this worked just as well. For $109.99 do not expect high-end movie-quality visuals with rich detail and deep blacks. But for this price, the Prizm is certainly capable of casual viewing.
The Prizm comes with a handy kickstand to elevate the direction of its projected content to you wall whilst used on a flat surface. Pressing the button on the front kicks the foot out from the front of the unit and holding it in whilst moving the main unit allows you to set the desired angle.
If you wish to give the Prizm a more permanent fixing, you can turn the projector upside down and use its tripod mounting screw underneath to fix it to the ceiling in a room or use it to screw the main unit onto a tripod if you do not have a flat surface to place it on to.
At 1885g in weight and 253x228x94mm in size, it isn’t as portable as Anker’s can-sized Nebula Capsule projector, so I do struggle to think what market the Prism is aimed at. The style-conscious or kids, perhaps.
My main problem with the Prizm is its throw distance of 1m to 3m range. I actually found this to be between 1.1m and 2.5m, with displays being cast in the size of 36-inches and 80-inches respectively. This is ok for small rooms, but if your room is anything bigger you will have to think carefully where you can place the unit so that it can be
Retailing at $109.99 from Amazon, don’t let the price full you into thinking the Prizm isn’t a capable portable projector. If you want a dedicated home cinema projector, let’s be honest, you are better off looking elsewhere, perhaps its higher resolution brother – the Prizm II. But for those who are on a budget, and are more forgiving in their audio and visual requirements, the Prizm does the job, it looks the part, and it has the build quality you come to expect from its parent brand, Anker.