The first thing you notice when you put the Nreal Air AR glasses on is just how light they are. And then, when you turn them on, how immersive and impressive the Augmented Reality effect really is.
Unlike full-on Virtual Reality headsets, these are not much more substantial than regular glasses. They’re 2.79 ounces or 79g, in fact. They look good and are hard to distinguish from regular sunglasses at first glance. Until you spot the cable winding from your ear to your smartphone.
True, this isn’t usually how specs or sunglasses work, but that’s the only downside. Inside the glasses look very different, with two 3,840 x 1,080 pixel OLED displays projecting images down onto the internal lenses.
The phone at the other end of the wire is your remote control, designed with big onscreen buttons in the app so you barely need to look at it.
Which is good, because your attention is taken up with the virtual screen it places before your eyes, equivalent to a display up to 201 inches, apparently, though when you’re using it you’re just aware that it takes up most of your vision.
This means it’s great for watching Netflix or BT Sports on a train, or playing a game during your commute (though be warned, it’s easy to get carried away as you play, so be mindful of your fellow passengers).
The audio comes to you through directional speakers in the arms of the glasses, but you can opt for a Bluetooth connection to your favorite in-ears if you prefer. You can also connect a Bluetooth gaming controller.
The Nreal Air AR glasses depend on a decent connection, wi-fi or 5G, which may be one of the reasons they’re exclusive to the EE, the UK carrier with advanced 5G service.
You can still see the world around you as well, though if you want to really lose yourself in your streamed movie, you can clip on a light shield.
One of the reasons the Nreal Air glasses are so light is there’s no battery in them—they draw power from the Android phone to which they’re connected. It’s estimated you’ll get five hours of video streaming before your phone is struggling. More than enough for most daily commutes, then.
You can wear them over your existing specs, with adjustable nose clips ensuring a good fit, though they are more comfortable without.
An Air Casting option means other features from your phone can also be displayed in the same big virtual display—it’s an effective screen mirroring effect.
The screen effects are excellent, and improve with the Light Shield in place, should your circumstances permit. But they are easily good enough to be a cool way to get a big-screen effect from a lightweight, appealing pair of specs.
The Nreal Air AR glasses go on sale next week and cost $490 (£399) to new or existing EE customers, and eligible pay monthly customers can spread the cost interest-free over 11 months.