My latest video review is of the Nreal Air display glasses.
I was excited to try these glasses out as I’ve been looking for a portable display that I can wear for watching movies & TV shows on long flights. While these can largely accomplish this goal for many people, like all VR/AR products your individual mileage will vary based on how they fit. And unfortunately these did not fit well for me at all.
First the good: the image is nice and bright and very visible even in a well lit room. The visual quality is pretty good thanks to their use of an OLED display for projection. The glasses also come with a lens cover that blocks out all of the ambient light so you can see nothing but the screen. Because the glasses don’t have a battery they are very light weight vs. a VR headset or similar device. They are powered by the device you plug them into.
I tested these on a variety of devices including an iPad Mini with USB-C connector, a Steam Deck, a Macbook Air and a number of other USB-C equipped Windows PCs that can output video through their USB-C ports. Everything pops up just as quickly as it does with a traditional monitor.
But there’s still a lot here that needs work:
1. If your face doesn’t conform to who Nreal engineered this product for you won’t have a good experience. I tried all three nose pieces included in the box and could not get a comfortable fit. The big problem is that the areas where the image is projected sits slightly above my field of vision when I am seated looking forward.
As a result I had hard time seeing the bottom of the projection especially for vertically oriented tablet and phone screens. But even horizontally aligned screens presented difficulty seeing the very bottom. It would have been better if Nreal offered a way to reduce the size of the projected image which would have helped my situation.
2. Compatibility for their augmented reality features is extremely limited to a small number of phones. While I don’t think most people buying these devices are getting them for the AR functionality it’s still important to note as the only way the image can be adjusted is in that AR mode. I’m not sure why they are advertising Steam VR compatbility when it’s clearly not able to do that.
3. Smartphones will be hit or miss overall. Most Android phones with a USB-C connector don’t output video through the USB-C port so that will limit even mirroring usage to a small number of devices. iPhones and lightning equipped iPads will need to buy two adapters: one from Apple to get an HDMI video output, and another from Nreal to adapt that HDMI output back to USB-C.
The Nreal adapter will also work with other devices that have an HDMI output but not a USB-C port. It is also required for the Nintendo Switch but note the Switch has to be in its dock for this to work which limits the portability significantly.
Overall this felt very much like a “minimally viable product.” It doesn’t fit everybody, the feature set is lacking, and while its core functionality of providing a wearable display works the image flickers a bit and is not adjustable.