Augmented Reality Glasses for $399

Whenever I hear about new AR/MR gadgets, my curiosity goes on par. It’s always fun to use these futuristic gadgets. Augmented Reality (AR) smart glasses are one of the best devices to experience the virtual world.

XREAL (formerly Nreal) is the leading brand in offering Augmented Reality smart glasses- the first-gen Xreal Air smart glasses were a remarkable success, crossing 100,000 sales last year. Xreal has updated its Air portfolio with the launch of next-gen Xreal Air 2 and Air 2 Pro AR smart glasses. Xreal’s new glasses are the most advanced AR smart glasses in the market, offering an unparalleled virtual experience. The new glasses can do everything you throw at them- from listening to music, media streaming, and taking calls, to gaming via Xbox, PS5, and Nintendo. It’s been a year since the first-gen Air model was announced and now the Xreal now officially unveiled its second iteration- the Air 2 comes with solid internal upgrades. Still, the design remains identical to the last gen’s model but there’s a catch ergonomically the new glasses improved a lot more.  

First Look

Xreal is not just upgrading the Air portfolio but also unveiling newer variants in the lineup- the Pro variant is a new addition to the lineup. Additionally, for the first time, Xreal added one more color option for the base version. The Air 2 now comes in a Red color option along with the iconic black color. Talking about pricing the Air 2 retails at $399/£399 (a $20 price bump in the pricing compared to the predecessor’s $379) While the Air 2 Pro kicks off at $449/£449. Both are available for pre-order in the US and UK via Xreal’s official website, Amazon, and other authorized resellers and the shipping will commence on November 2023. 

As compared to the first-gen Air, The body is now more lightweight, addition of two new bi-directional open-ear speakers tuned with DTS, improved dual microphones, and an innovative adjustable design that fits heads of all sizes- Xreal packs a lot more in its latest Air 2 series. For anyone who wants to start an AR journey, Xreal is the best AR brand they can start with. 

In comparison with Rokid’s recently launched next-gen Max AR glasses- they can project virtual screens up to 215-inch boasting brightness up to 600 nits, and dual stereo speakers. Xreal really has some solid competitors and Rokid is one of them. However, Xreal has an edge over Rokid’s latest glasses, in terms of better performance, high resolution, and more than Rokid’s virtual display size. 

Still, the AR glasses are in the growing phase Unlike the MR headsets it doesn’t offer a mixed reality experience like Meta’s Quest 3 but they are getting better with each iteration.

New Ergonomic design: Feels more lightweight and comfortable

The design of the latest Xreal smart glasses same as the last generation but Xreal fully revamped the ergonomic design of the Air 2 smart glasses making them lighter and more comfortable. The new glasses are 10% lighter and just 19mm thick than last year’s model with 79 grams of weight and 21mm thickness. Weighing just 72 grams, Xreal Air 2 is the world’s lightest consumer AR glasses even the Rokid’s latest Max AR weighs slightly more than it.

The new 3-stake adjustable Rake system easily adapts to your head size and provides a comfortable grip. Designed to be all-day glasses and I did try them for a whole day- surprisingly these feel pretty lighter and more comfortable. 

Display and Resolution: Experience the virtual world with new panels

Xreal brings some meaningful upgrades to key areas of the new AR glasses. Xreal replaced an old Sony 0.68 Micro-OLED display with Sony’s latest 0.55 Micro-OLED display that brings great improvement and crystal clear quality in display resolution. 

Sony’s latest 0.55 Micro-OLED display offers 1920 x 1080p maximum resolution with a 120Hz refresh rate that makes AR content smoother and crisp. It boasts a 500 nits of peak brightness and produces a 25% brighter screen compared to the Air1 (400 nits of peak brightness). The Air 2 glasses come with TUV Rheinland’s eye care certification that reduces visual fatigue caused by screen flicker and delivers a high-color performance and comfortable user experience. 

Another notable change is that the size of the virtual display is now up from 201 inches to a whopping 330 inches. Yes, you heard right, these new AR glasses project a wall-size display of up to 330 inches. The 46° field of view offers an immersive AR experience. As for batteries, the glasses don’t have built-in batteries with just a plug-and-play mechanism it fully depends on the device you have connected to the Air 2 smart glasses. It lasts until the connected device’s battery runs out of juice. 

Sound and Controllers: What’s new

Xreal totally revamped the entire sound system with a new improved cinematic sound system which the brand claims Industry’s best quality sound system. The open-ear-styled dual speakers embedded on both arms produce a really impressive spatial sound with deeper bass. 

As for controllers, there are two buttons placed on the bottom of the right arm of the glasses- one for the Screen on/ off and the other for the screen brightness adjustment which also doubles as the volume rocker with just a long press for 3 seconds.

3DoF Head Tracking

Xreal Air has 3DoF head tracking ability which means animations and avatars will look more personalized and animated. It tracks the movement in 3 axes X, Y, and Z. For example, if you are walking while wearing AR glasses, the hardware will recognize the human and environment understanding and it will automatically start moving to the X axis and vice versa. The 3DoF head-tracking offers an immersive experience while watching movies and playing FPP games. 

Is $399 AR glasses worth it?

There are few reliable options available in the market regarding AR glasses and for augmented reality first-timers, Xreal’s $399 Air 2 smart glasses may be the best device to start their AR journey. Setting up the device is as easy as changing the TV channel just plug the glasses into your phone, laptop, or (Nintendo Switch via an adapter) and you are good to go. It can project up to a 330-inch cover screen that takes your gaming and multimedia streaming experience to the next level. At $399 pricing, these glasses are worth it. As of now, I’m testing these AR glasses, so stay tuned for the review.

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