Providing a soundbar and Hearth TV Stick in a single, the Anker Nebula is a superb – however not excellent – possibility for shoppers.
Whereas Amazon is the go-to for Alexa-enabled units, it’s not the one producer of good dwelling tech that options Alexa integration. Corporations like Inventive and Logitech are producing devices with built-in help for Amazon’s digital assistant, however Anker has taken it a step additional by together with not solely Alexa performance within the Nebula soundbar, however Amazon’s 4K-enabled Hearth TV Stick too.
We’ve spent fairly a while watching TV and films with the Anker Nebula soundbar, and right here’s what we predict.
Pricing and availability
The Anker Nebula soundbar – Hearth TV Version prices £179.99 within the UK, though it’s accessible barely cheaper on Amazon on the time of writing. These within the US can choose the soundbar up for $229.99, additionally from Amazon.
When you think about the very fact the Nebula is comprised of a 2.1 soundbar system and a Hearth TV stick, which prices £49.99/$49.99 alone, it’s not a foul deal – you simply must make sure that’s what you want from a soundbar. If you happen to’ve already bought a sensible TV and haven’t any want for Hearth TV performance, there are many options accessible that present extra bang to your buck; check out our choice of one of the best soundbars for inspiration.
A easy design
The Anker Nebula soundbar is admittedly a little bit of a chonk, measuring in at 92 x 11 x 6cm, particularly when you think about it’s solely a 2.1 speaker system comprised of two audio system and two subwoofers. The one saving grace is that the darkish mesh material that covers the whole lot of the Nebula helps it mix into the setting and, if you happen to’ve bought a second or third-gen Echo close by, the material will match up, offering good synchronicity all through the room.
On the rear of the soundbar you’ll discover numerous connectivity choices together with a HDMI port, Optical in and a 3.5mm Aux port, and also you’ve additionally bought built-in Bluetooth connectivity to attach the soundbar to your telephone to ‘pump out the tunez’.
Atop the soundbar you’ll discover a contact panel permitting you to vary the supply and EQ, regulate the quantity and switch the soundbar off. There’s additionally a fundamental show embedded behind the mesh material end to show supply info, and also you’ll discover an embedded Nebula badge alongside the left-hand facet of the speaker – thus far, so commonplace.
It’s while you join a HDMI cable to the rear-facing port that issues begin to get fascinating.
The Amazon Alexa expertise
As soon as related to your TV, you’ll be capable to arrange the built-in Amazon Hearth TV with 4K HDR help, offering entry to the complete Hearth TV expertise with out the necessity for a further dongle. Whereas the interface is admittedly centered on Amazon’s personal video choices, you’ll discover apps for Netflix, BBC iPlayer and different widespread streaming providers, turning the Nebula soundbar into your one-stop-shop for media consumption.
Together with 4K HDR help, the Nebula can benefit from HDR10+ and Dolby Imaginative and prescient applied sciences for an improved visible expertise. That’s often tailor-made to high-end TVs and isn’t one thing the vast majority of shoppers will be capable to expertise, but it surely’s a pleasant plus if you happen to do have a Imaginative and prescient-supported TV.
We received’t go into an excessive amount of extra element concerning the core Hearth TV expertise as we’ve bought a evaluation devoted to the Hearth TV Stick, however there are just a few options distinctive to the Nebula. The difficulty is, they don’t at all times work as supposed.
After all, with Hearth TV integration, customers ought to anticipate Alexa help. It’s not voice-activated like different units, however you need to use the Hearth TV distant to activate Alexa and, utilizing the distant’s built-in mic, ask it to show off the bed room lights or no matter else you may need to ask. It’s not the total Alexa expertise although, as some options like drop-in aren’t accessible, however that is widespread amongst third-party Alexa-enabled units.
You’ll be able to, nevertheless, ask Alexa on one other system – be it an Echo speaker or the Alexa app in your telephone – to manage the soundbar, permitting you to vary the enter, regulate the quantity and extra.
There’s a catch although; Alexa can solely management the soundbar when the Hearth TV is in use. If you happen to’re watching Freeview or taking part in your PS4, you’ll be rebuffed by Alexa explaining that it could actually’t connect with the soundbar. The built-in Hearth TV acts as a bridge between the soundbar and the broader Alexa ecosystem, and when it’s not in use, there’s merely no manner for Amazon’s servers to attach and management the unit.
So, whereas the Anker Nebula is a brilliant soundbar, it’s not at all times good.
Booming bass, however at a value
The Anker Nebula sports activities a 2.1 system, that includes two 1.5in 20w audio system and two 3in 30W subwoofers, with bass additional enhanced by Anker’s BassUp know-how. You received’t discover the identical stage of definition on supply in comparison with a 5.1 system, but it surely’s an enormous step ahead from the built-in audio system of most TVs.
The soundscape is surprisingly vast, filling the room with audio and, as anticipated, the bass is booming. It’s surprisingly clear at excessive volumes, excellent for listening to music or watching the newest Hollywood blockbuster, however the spectacular bass is also the Nebula’s downfall.
Whereas the soundbar sounds nice with the quantity cranked up, that isn’t the case on the different finish of the spectrum. We don’t at all times need it ear-splitting playback, particularly late at evening or early within the morning, however when it’s turned down, there’s a noticeable degradation in high quality – particularly within the mid-range, and specifically, vocals.
Voices usually sound distorted at low quantity, as if forcing bass tones that aren’t really there, and it’s one thing we will’t appear to get previous. We’ve tried tweaking the EQ, adjusting the degrees of treble and bass, but it surely’s nonetheless current when the quantity drops beneath 10 and notably noticeable when watching TV exhibits with out background music.
So, whereas the Anker Nebula sounds nice when the quantity is cranked up, you don’t get the identical stage of audio high quality at low volumes.
If you happen to’re trying to improve your TV audio setup and introduce some smarts on the identical time, the Anker Nebula soundbar is a superb, budget-friendly possibility. The Hearth TV integration is helpful, offering entry to not solely Amazon Prime Video however a number of streaming providers with out the necessity for a separate Hearth TV Stick, however the expertise isn’t excellent.
You’ll be able to solely use Alexa by way of the Hearth TV distant, for instance, and whereas you need to use Alexa on different units to manage the soundbar, the performance is just accessible when the Hearth TV is in use – not good if you happen to needed to regulate the quantity when watching terrestrial TV.
The audio high quality, whereas not so good as what’s on supply from a 5.1 system, is a big step up from the built-in audio system of most TVs. There’s a large, immersive soundscape on supply, and the bass is booming at excessive volumes, however distortion at low quantity means it isn’t excellent.
Anker Nebula Soundbar – Hearth TV Version: Specs
- 2.1 channel soundbar
- 2x 20w audio system
- 2x30w subwoofers
- Hearth TV integration with Alexa help
- 3.5mm Aux
- Optical In
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Hearth TV distant
- 92 x 11 x 6cm