Anker Nebula Mars 3 Air 4 1 1080P DLP Projector
Projector Central Highly Recommended Award

Highly Recommended Award

Our Highly Recommended designation is earned by products offering extraordinary value or performance in their price class.

  • Performance
  • 4
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
  • 1080p imaging
  • No maintenance LED lighting
  • Google TV built in
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Lacks a USB-C port for video
  • Could be a little brighter
Our Take

The Anker Nebular Mars 3 Air could use a little more firepower than its allotted 400 lumens, but with its $600 asking price and features that include battery portability and Google TV streaming with an authorized Netflix app, it represents good value.

Anker Nebula Mars 3 Air front

With HD imaging, stereo speakers and the one-two punch of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, the Anker Nebula Mars 3 Air is among today's best small projectors. Not to be mistaken with the brighter and more advanced Mars 3 reviewed last fall, the Mars 3 Air is rated at 400 ANSI lumens vs. the larger model's 1,000 lumens. It offers no-maintenance LED lighting, sealed optics that will never need a dust filter replacement, and it puts a surprisingly strong image onto a screen or wall. It all comes together with Google TV and all the streaming options it provides.

While it competes on paper with the Asus ZenBeam L2 in terms of maximum brightness, the Mars 3 Air is less expensive, coming in $100 less at $599 MSRP list and street price before any other discounting, and it does remarkably well in its Standard mode that offers a respectable compromise between color balance and brightness. It may not have a USB-C port for feeding video or any advertised ability to decode HDR programming, but given its price, it could be the one to beat in this market.


It seems there are two schools of thought when it comes to the design of portable projectors today, the most popular of which yields devices shaped like cylinders or cones. Just as interesting is the movement to replace them with cubes or rectangular devices, like the Anker Nebula Mars 3 Air. At 7 x 4.8 x 5.2 inches and 3.7 pounds, it's slightly larger and heavier than the cylindrical Asus ZenBeam L2 but has a carrying handle for moving it to the living room at home or an empty room at work.

Its perforated gray plastic case has a large central lens that's placed 4-inches above the base so that in many cases it won't need to be tilted for screen or wall viewing. It does, however, lack a pull-out leg beneath the projector—as is the case with some competitors—for situations where tilting is necessary. Like most others, there's neither a lens cap nor a way to level the projector.

Underneath, the Mars 3 Air has a threaded attachment point for a tripod or Anker's $50 stainless steel desktop stand, which will raise it by about 4.5 inches and angle it as much as 12 degrees up or down. The padded case costs $50 extra.

Anker Nebula Mars 3 Air bottom

The projected image starts with banks of red, blue and green LEDs that produce streams of light that are bounced off the projector's 0.23-inch DLP imaging chip. The projector creates 1920x1080 resolution video—full HD—that is aimed at the projector's output lens.

A big bonus is that the lighting components are sealed and don't need an air filter, so the projector is maintenance-free. The LEDs are rated to last for 30,000 hours of use.

The Mars 3 Air setup is as close to automatic as it gets. A few seconds after turning it on, it projects five checkerboard images that the device's front mounted camera and sensor use to focus and frame the image with auto keystone, auto screen-fit and auto obstacle avoidance (which will zoom the image down to fit your projection screen or avoid obstacles on the wall). It's as good as a sharp-eyed human but much faster, although it's easy to tweak the image.

Like many other small projectors, the Mars 3 Air's lens has a 1.2:1 throw ratio that lacks the ability to optically zoom the image in and out, though manual digital zoom is available to shrink the image if needed. Though able to create images that range from 30 inches to 150 inches, its limited brightness reserves means that images tend to wash out beyond 80 inches or so.

The Mars 3 Air is also genuinely portable, able to run far from an AC outlet with its 52 watt-hour battery pack. In addition to its picture modes, the projector has two brightness modes including the full power Standard mode (not to be confused with Standard picture mode) and Eco, which lowers brightness considerably to extend play time when the projector is running on battery power. There's also an Auto setting that automatically puts the Mars 3 Air into Eco mode when it detects that it is not connected to its power supply.

Though the battery's stated battery capacity is one-quarter lower than the one that powers the recently tested Asus ZenBeam L2 projector, it was still good for up to 3 hours and 10 minutes of watching episodes of Halo on Amazon Prime in Eco brightness mode, a bit longer than the 2.5 hour rating. However, it put out a very low 145 ANSI lumens in its Standard picture mode. Happily, the Mars 3 Air has something few small projectors have: a four LED battery gauge on top.

Anker Nebula Mars 3 Air lifestyle1

The projector's four picture modes range from Standard and Movie to Conference and Game mode, although the latter is only available with an HDMI source. There's also a Custom mode that allows saving adjustments to saturation, color temperature, contrast and sharpness. The projector's Expert Settings add several noise reduction options as well as the DI Film mode. On the other hand, there is no labled Rec.709 or sRGB mode for use with movie and TV content, nor will the Mars 3 Air accept 4K signals.

Rated at 400 ANSI lumens, the brightest Conference mode put 399 ANSI lumens on the test screen, essentially making the spec. It was an acceptable mode for use in a well-lit room, but it might be overpowered by the sun shining in through open shades. Like other small projectors, it worked best in a darkened environment.

In fact, the Mars 3 Air was good for anything from watching a movie at home to setting up a quickie lesson at school to a small group presentation at work. A big pay-off is that unlike other projectors in its class that lose a lot of their brightness with the picture modes that deliver better color balance, the Mars 3 Air only lost four percent of its peak brightness when using the Standard mode.

Inside, the projector takes a different route to replacing a television. The Mars 3 Air uses Google TV, and was lauded as one of the first portable projectors to offer this platform which acts as an interface layer on top of the Android TV app. It provides an entrance into the world of streaming media, and most notably provides a working Netflix app, something that has been missing from many prior Android projectors.

Anker Mars 3 Air Remote

When you access the Home screen, you are offered up "For You" recommendations, Live TV, Apps and a Library of movies and shows that have been already purchased. Below are popular programming choices. In addition to the Amazon Prime Video and Netflix apps that are easily accessed with dedicated buttons on the remote control, the interface has links for Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max and Apple TV+. The company adds its Anker's Nebula Life (for atmospheric videos or a projected clock) and Play (video tips and tricks). You can also cast content from your mobile device via the Chromecast-enabled apps on your phone or tablet, and Anker's Nebula Cast app can be tapped for casting the entire screen content of your device to the projector.

Of all the entertainment choices in the Google TV interface, my favorite is the Live TV tab. It can tap into 118 (at last count) free streaming stations although some rely on Pluto TV, Tubi or Haystack TV. It yields anything from Sky News to the Star Trek channel.

Like other small Android projectors there's another menu for controlling or adjusting the projector. After a few mistakes, I was able to tweak its settings. The addition of shortcuts for the most used areas was a help, although I would have liked to add my own.

In addition to selecting the Standard, Movie, Game and Conference picture modes, the Mars 3 Air has options for changing the contrast, color saturation and sharpness as well as three color temperature settings. It can compensate for projecting onto a colored wall as well as having three Gamma choices for Normal, Dark and Bright rooms.

The Mars 3 Air's top is dominated by the four-way control, central actuation button and a go-back key. There's a button for sending the audio to Bluetooth wireless speakers and up and down keys to adjust the volume. Its remote control does even better with the ability to turn the projector on or off, change the volume and dedicated Netflix and Prime Video keys. It has a key for adjusting the focus as well as ones for getting to the projector's settings, menu, and a microphone for using Google Assistant to tell the projector to do such things as "open YouTube." The projector can also be turned on via HDMI CEC link from a connected HDMI source.

Anker Nebula Mars 3 Air top

The Mars 3 Air can also take advantage of the Nebula Connect phone app for Android and iOS systems. It offers an on-screen keypad for entering text as well as a touchpad for moving the arrow around on-screen. It, however, misses an opportunity by not going deeper into the projector's abilities, such as allowing user-assigned shortcuts to other streaming services.

While the front is dominated by the projector's lens, the back has its ports and some of the widest exhaust vents I've seen. The Mars 3 Air stayed remarkably quiet, although the projector hit a peak of 115 degrees Fahrenheit, significantly hotter than some competition. In addition to a proprietary power port, it has a HDMI 2.0 connection, a USB 2.0 port and an analog stereo 3.5mm audio-out jack. The USB port worked with my Logitech K400r wireless keyboard and with a third-party File Manager, and it can play video from a USB flash drive. Plus, the projector's storage can be expanded with a flash drive. Unfortunately, it lags some other new projectors that have a USB-C port compatible with Alt Mode Video inputs.

With both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.1, the Mars 3 Air can not only wirelessly receive a variety of programming from the Internet but can also connect to wireless speakers. After I paired the projector to my Monoprice speaker bar, all I needed to do was tap the Bluetooth speaker button on the control panel to connect them. The interface has an adjustable wireless speaker delay that can help sync the sound with the action. I had mixed results with it.

Rather than a single speaker, the Mars 3 Air has a pair of 8-watt speakers that sound pretty good. Its audio includes Dolby digital enhancements with settings for Music, Movie and Outdoors. The Custom setting allows tailoring the bass, treble and balance.

With access to the Spotify app, I used the Mars 3 Air as a standalone wireless speaker. It took less than a minute to download, install and configure it via a phone. Its sound may be a little hollow compared to dedicated wireless speakers, but it is remarkably good.

Finally, the Mars 3 Air comes with a one-year warranty that matches the coverage from its major competitors. Of course, even this is a shame in a world where a projector's major components should last for years, if not decades.


While many small projectors have six or seven projection modes to match different material, the Anker Mars 3 Air simplifies things with four presets, plus a Custom mode for your own settings. On the downside, and as mentioned earlier, it lacks anything like an sRGB or Rec.709 setting for achieving standardized color balance with HD content or photographs.

Under the surface, there are color temperature settings for Normal, Cool and Warm. If that's not enough, the overall color balance can be tweaked with a user-defined Custom setting that let me adjust the red, blue and green gain.

It worked well with HP Elite Dragonfly and MacBook Air notebooks, displaying a peak output of 399 ANSI lumens in Conference mode, just missing its spec by a lumen, well within the realm of instrument error. This mode was good to go in a well-lit room and was just okay when up against sunlight streaming into the room. On the downside, it made everything look very green, with a ghostly cast, and was best for showing spreadsheet numbers or textual presentations.

Switching to the more neutral Standard mode reduced the projector's output to 383 ANSI lumens, a modest 4 percent drop. Others in its class lose about one-third of their brightness when switching to Standard or Normal mode. The payoff is that the green tinge was gone and everything looked bright and rich, although maybe a little too warm.

By contrast, using the Mars 3 Air's Movie mode warmed things up even more, adding a slightly orange tint to everything. It delivered 372 ANSI lumens, which is again not a huge drop from the maximum output. When I watched Crimes of the Future in Movie mode, the imaging was vibrant with well-saturated colors. The opening scene with the boy sitting on the beach showed lifelike skin tones, neutral sand and stone as well as a bright blue sky. The sunlight shimmering on the ocean waves looked realistic.

Anker Nebula Mars 3 Air lifestyle2

Finally, with an HDMI source connected, the Mars 3 Air makes available its Game mode. While intended for connecting a gaming console, it worked well with a UHD computer and put 382 ANSI lumens on screen, just about matching the Standard mode's output. The imaging was a little cold looking but should be fine for most users. The Game mode locks out the keystone correction, though.


A big step forward for portable projectors, the Anker Mars 3 Air may weigh less than four pounds, but it combines HD imaging with LED illumination that delivers one of the best ways to fill a wall or screen with a variety of video and programming. In addition to Google TV's large menu of streaming potential, the Mars 3 Air has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for connecting to the Internet as easily as it does to wireless speakers.

The Mars 3's no-maintenance LED lighting components delivered 399 ANSI lumens in its brightest mode, a smidge below its 400-lumen spec. It delivered a more realistic color balance in its Standard mode at only a slight brightness penalty. The projector falls short of the mark with an interface that takes some getting used to, although its built-in shortcuts help.

At $600, the Mars 3 Air is a bargain that undercuts the price of some similar projectors. It can be just as good for use as a TV replacement at home, a quickie lesson maker at school, or a way to get a small group on the same page visually at work. In other words, the Mars 3 Air is a Swiss Army knife of small projectors with the ability to be many things to different people.


Brightness. The Anker Nebula Mars 3 Air had a maximum measured brightness of 399 ANSI lumens, just missing its 400-lumen rating, but well within the measurement protocol's tolerance for accuracy. However, this was achieved using the Conference setting that is so green that it is only really useful for showing spreadsheets or textual presentations.

With 383 ANSI lumens on tap, the Standard mode offers better color balance at only a small cost in terms of brightness. That four percent decline compares well with most projectors in the Mar 3 Air's that class lose one-third of their brightness in a standard or normal mode. The other modes also sacrificed litte of the projector's full output while offering better color balance.

With its Eco mode engaged to preserve battery power, the Mars 3 Air was more like a flashlight, with the ability to deliver just 145 lumens in the Standard picture mode. This can be considered only for a fully dark room or nighttime outside.

Anker Nebula Mars 3 Air ANSI Lumens

Picture Mode Lumens
Standard 383
Movie 372
Conference 399
Game 382

Brightness Uniformity. The Mars 3 Air had excellent brightness uniformity of 88 percent.

Power Use. Small and easy to carry around, the Nebula Mars 3 Air is a power miser with peak usage of 59.2 watts in Conference mode with a charged battery. Using Standard and Movie modes, the power use is reduced to 49.9 watts. The Eco mode reduced the power drain to 22.4 watts.

With an idle power consumption of 13.2 watts, the system has an estimated annual power bill of $28. That is if it's used for eight hours a day for 200 days a year for eight hours a day and you pay the national average of 14 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity.

Battery. The Mars 3 Air's 52 watt-hour battery pack is rated to provide 2.5 hours of play time in Eco mode. I got a bit more at 3 hours and 10 minutes on a full charge, but with only 145 lumens output. It took two hours to recharge with the projector off and the AC adapter providing 39.2 watts of electricity.

Fan Noise. Anker engineers rate the Mars 3 Air noise at 28dB in a soundproofed room, using the ISO 7779 standardized measurement. In a single, real-world measurement, taken 36 inches from the exhaust vent in a rooms with a 38.9 dBA noise floor, the projector was surprisingly quiet, measuring 40.3dBA in its highest output Conference mode. That drops marginally to 40.1dBA in Movie mode and 40.0dBA in Eco mode.

Input Lag. Using a 1920x1080/60 Hz signal from a Bodnar Video Signal Lag Tester, I measured the projector's input lag at 44.1 miliseconds. That's better than some of its portable competition, but still suitable only for casual gaming. The best gaming projectors deliver less than 20 ms of lag.


Anker Nebula Mars 3 Air connections
  • HDMI (Version 2.0)
  • Analog Stereo Audio out (3.5mm jack)
  • Power input
  • USB 2.0 Type-A

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Anker Nebula Mars 3 Air projector page.

To buy this projector, use Where to Buy online, or get a price quote by email direct from Projector Central authorized dealers using our E-Z Quote tool.


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