NReal Air display glasses

Even though this isn’t a tablet or phone… I think it’s potentially a great “companion” accessory for mobile computing.

These are the NReal Air glasses. They are marketed as Augmented Reality devices, to which I would hesitate to claim. However, I do think they are highly effective as a portable monitor/display device.

The Airs are probably the only current Head Mounted Display (HMD) that I would actually feel comfortable wearing out in the public. They look scarcely different than a pair of large Ray Ban sunglasses. And you wouldn’t really look out of place wearing them indoors, aside from the fact that you’re wearing sunglasses indoors.

In fact, on my first time I brought them with me for plane travel, there was another person at my gate, wearing them. And they look pretty unobtrusive. You can tell a hint of lights flashing through his dark lenses, but I knew what I was looking for.

The entire kit consists of glasses, a nice cylindrical zippered case to protect the glasses, that also has a storage area for a USB-C cable.

About that cable… the glasses are powered externally, requiring the single USB-C cable that, design-wise, attach nicely to the left frame end.

When I plug the cable into my Fold3… that’s where the magic happens. The Samsung automatically detects this as a monitor and kicks into Dex mode.

The picture here, doesn’t do the display any justice, as the camera can’t focus the image properly. But I assure you, the display is crystal clear. It amounts to having a 200" monitor in front of your face.

The graphics are sharp enough with the fonts, that I have no problem reading websites or editing word processor documents. With Dex, I can do something like put a MS Teams call on one side, and a document or web browser on the other.

The images are bright, and brightness levels are adjustable. They are viewable in sunlight, but slightly washed out. At night, or indoor areas, they shine and it’s a joy to watch content like videos or sports broadcasts. If you turn the Dex background to completely black, the pixels are completely off, and you can actually see the real world like having sunglasses. So you can get a sort of augmented reality effect with windows and icons floating in front of you.

While in Dex, I have the phone display turned into a touchpad, with a keyboard when needed. The Field of View (FOV) of the Air doesn’t fully cover your vision in the vertical direction. That actually works to one’s advantage, as you can actually see the real world if you cast your eyes stright down, where you can see yourself thumb typing on the Fold virtual keyboard.

I’m on week three of having the NReal Airs, and already, it’s in my travel kit. I no longer feel the need to bring an external monitor or Nexdock style device to run Dex on the road. I would still bring a folding keyboard and mouse for max efficiency. But the bulkiness of my travel kit has gotten significantly lighter and more compact with these display glasses.

6 Likes

Thanks for the write up!

They aren’t too expensive either.

1 Like

Very cool, the future is now! How much did it set you back, and what’s the resolution?

1 Like

I’ve been watching these closely. I’m intrigued and would love to get a pair. That was a really helpful write up. Please continue to share experinces.

2 Likes

Too bad they have such a limited phone compatibility list. These look really cool. Would also be an interesting option if they worked with a laptop as a portable effectively very large monitor.

1 Like

I wonder how the Lenovo Glasses T1 will fare.

And this time next year, Qualcomm’s SoCs for glasses will start shipping in products. Let’s just hope it isn’t as half-derrièred as their smartwatch SoCs have been.

2 Likes

I’m not entirely sure what the limitations of their phone listings mean. It might be more about their “AR” software called Nebula, which supposedly only works with certain phones.

Otherwise, most devices that have USB-C display outputs will allow for screen mirroring. From what I’ve seen, it should work with any laptop. I’ll test this out on my Windows laptop soon.

2 Likes

It looks like a similar product. If one were to compare the listed specs, it looks like the Nreal has better contrast and higher refresh rate. It also looks like the Lenovo USB cord is permanently attached to the frame, which reduces your choices of length and perhaps makes them more awkward to stow.

It’s unclear where the Lenovo will be priced, aside from rumors it will be under $500. The Nreal can be purchased on Amazon for $379

$379 from Amazon, for me, it took about 5 days from order to arrival.

1920x1280 per eye. The most important subjective criteria for me, is being able to read text on documents, to make this a usable work monitor.

2 Likes

Other things I’ve been trying is running Moonlight Nvidia streaming via Dex, to get a virtual desktop of my gaming PC with an RTX GPU. Being able to run full fledged CAD/3D animation software with a pocketable setup is something else.

I’ve heard people running Raspberry Pis and Steam Decks. I’m tempted to get a cheap PC stick to have an on-prem pocketable Windows setup.

Other fun application is putting a movie in the top corner of my Dex view and doing yardwork.

The craziest thing I’ve heard people do is having Google maps/navigation in the edge of the FOV while wearing the glasses while driving. Definitely not recommending that!

1 Like

Pretty sure that’s not legal in a lot of countries!

1 Like

Nope, don’t get a PC stick, it will be a hassle to set up and not at all portable. Newer (non Atom) PC stick will require a 15W power source, so it’s either carrying a bulky charger and be permanently attached to a wall, or carrying a brick of high voltage battery. You will also need at least a portable controller to control the thing, basically not at all a " portable " setup.

Some mini tablets with its own battery and a low power celeron chip like my Raytrektab 8 would be a far better alternative for a portable Windows experience. Still bulky but it had pen input and touchscreen which can work in a pinch as an input method. Or the Steam deck with controller would be a great portable PC alternative.

2 Likes

Do you need 20/20 vision to use them?

2 Likes

Yes. I have to wear my contacts to see with the Air. I’m pretty sure the Air will not fit around prescription glasses.

The kit comes with a lens insert, and that can be used as a template for a prescription lens maker to fabricate the right shaped lenses to use.

2 Likes