Hey friends – hope you’re well!
I’ve been wearing smart glasses for a month nonstop; the Nreal Air Augmented Reality Glasses, and it’s a really exciting glimpse into the future – they’re essentially AR smart glasses that look and wear like normal sunglasses.
After seeing movies like Minority Report and Iron Man years ago, I hoped that augmented reality would become, well, a reality—something practical and useful for everyday use.
And after a month of use, these glasses have opened up a world where I can work off my MacBook, watch movies, and play games no matter where I am. I’ll share with you how they work, how I used them, and what this all looks like for the future of smart glasses – especially with Apple’s rumoured AR/VR headset on the horizon.
The Nreal team kindly sent them to me, but all opinions are my own as always, so let’s put them on and see how they work!
The first thing I noticed is that these smart glasses are lightweight – exactly 80 grams, which is less than 3 ounces and just a little heavier than your average sunglasses, making them comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.
When I first connected the glasses to my OPPO X5 using the included USB-C cable, I was blown away by the 201-inch virtual display. It’s so big that I had to turn my head side to side to see the whole thing.
It also works with an iPhone with an adapter, and Samsung Galaxy users can use these glasses to access Samsung’s DeX app, which creates a separate desktop environment just for the glasses.
But I ended up using the glasses a lot with my MacBook – Nreal’s recently updated Nebula feature projects my MacBook screen into a massive virtual multi-setup through the glasses, and I’ll show you more of this.
I’ll do my best to demonstrate the AR Glasses as realistically as possible, but as I discovered, showing what AR looks like is actually quite difficult – so please bear with me while I do my best to give you a taste of what it looks like!
I’ll be testing these for a month, and this is the first time I’m wearing them.
- Connect it to your phone with the included USB-C cable.
- Download the Nebula app from Nreal.
- Air Casting – Mirrors the phone screen
- AR Space – A dedicated reality space
How It Works
So here’s how the glasses project an augmented reality image: there are two dual 1080p displays behind the glasses that work in tandem; they’re actually Sony Micro OLED displays with 400 nits of brightness. So, when I put these on, our smart brains combine the two separate displays into one, or more accurately, it tricks our brains, giving the illusion of projected 3D depth.
Put on the included Light Shield to not only look like a Cyberpunk badass, but it also transforms these AR glasses into a blackout VR-like experience, which I’ve found to be ideal when you don’t want your surroundings distracting you, such as on a commute or on a plane.
Navigating the menu and working from the glasses is as easy as using the connected phone as a pointer and controller or your connected mouse and keyboard via your laptop, both of which have worked well for me.
And I have to say, these AR glasses are far superior to most AR/VR headsets I’ve used in the past, such as the older Oculus Quest 1 and HTC Vive, simply because of their high brightness, high-quality display, and portable form factor. The Nreal Air glasses have a 46-degree field of view, a refresh rate of 90Hz, and no grainy effect that is common in VR/AR headsets.
The animations and onscreen smoothness are even better in person than I can show in the video, and it’s extremely bright for viewing even in direct sunlight – it’s a pleasant viewing experience that I didn’t expect based on my previous experience with AR.
There are also two open speakers near the temples with volume controls, and the sound quality is adequate but not exceptional, so headphones are recommended for a more immersive experience.
There are two head tracking modes: fixed, which keeps the screen in a single location in your environment and tracked, which keeps the AR screens centered no matter where you turn. I prefer tracked because it feels more immersive, but fixed is the better option if you plan to sit down and work with multiple screens.
And while we’re on the subject of using multiple screens for work, I’d like to share some of the mind-blowing immersive features and apps I’ve been using over the last month. I’ve been having a lot of fun with these.
Nebula for Mac
One of the most exciting new features is the ability to connect the glasses to an M1 or M2 Mac via the Nebula app. Don’t worry, Windows users: a Windows App will be released in the coming months.
So I hooked it up to my MacBook Pro M2 – and the result is truly amazing, similar to Meta Quest Pro’s passthrough mode.
It works in single-screen, dual-screen, and triple-screen modes, with three degrees of freedom in each mode to provide an immersive visual representation of multiple monitors moving in front of you. At times, I felt like Tony Stark; it’s something that needs to be experienced in person for a long period of time to fully appreciate how futuristic this device is.
Having three legitimate monitors on hand in such a small package is a game changer, especially for productivity enthusiasts. I wrote emails, used Slack, and Google Docs, created a report, and even tried video editing on the virtual triple-screen monitor at home, cafes, and even on the plane for a bit over the last month.
The Spatial Browser also has two display modes: horizontal for multiple windows and vertical for seeing as much of a page as possible. All of these factors combine to create a one-of-a-kind impressive, immersive, and productive experience.
I got about 5 hours of work in before a charge, screen mirroring worked smoothly, my Bluetooth keyboard and mouse paired fine, and most importantly, I didn’t feel nauseous at all despite taking the usual breaks away from my desk.
So it’s far better than I expected, but it’s not without flaws.
The depth of field tracking was jittery at times, which was distracting; if you accidentally loosen the cable, everything shuts down, taking all the AR screens and apps with it.
The Nreal Airs make an excellent gaming companion.
Connecting these to my Nintendo Switch opens up a whole new world of immersive experiences.
Playing Mario Kart 8 through these glasses felt like I had a cockpit view of the kart itself, and I easily lost a few hours karting around through these glasses.
Breath of the Wild was breathtakingly beautiful on an AR screen, making me feel like I was actually flying around the fields of Hyrule, and I was able to appreciate the world’s beauty more than ever before.
Please keep in mind that 201″ AR mode is only available for high-end Android phones and Xbox Cloud Gaming. For devices like the Steam Deck, Switch, and PS5, we’re limited to a 130″ gaming screen – which is already large enough to fill our field of vision.
I can see a lot of people getting these glasses as a gaming companion and only using them for gaming and watching content.
The Air Casting mode, which mimics your phone’s content, is great for watching Netflix or YouTube in a cinema-like experience, but it drains the battery quickly.
After wearing it for over a month, I’ve gotten used to it, and it helps that they actually look more like regular sunglasses than ever, certainly more than the original Google Glass – anyone remember those?
They look like a slightly enlarged version of sleek Wayfarer sunglasses, a silhouette I personally like, and they’re by far the best-looking wearable glasses I’ve seen so far.
They even support prescription lenses and come with a variety of nosepads to keep them from falling off your face, so design-wise, these are a huge step forward for smart glasses and wearable tech.
Although the glasses are made of plastic, they have a high-quality feel to them and are light enough to wear comfortably. They’re undeniably portable, and the included case allows you to slip them into your pocket or bag.
I’ve even taken these to a cafe and sipped a drink while watching Netflix while still being able to see the entire cafe. The best part is that no one knew I was watching Netflix on a freakin’ 201″ screen while chilling at the cafe; they probably wondered why I was wearing sunglasses indoors, but it was totally worth it.
My Thoughts After 1 Month
I’m starting to realize how useful smart glasses and Augmented Reality can be for work and play, especially when the wearable is this portable and discrete – the Nreal Air glasses are one of the most impressive smart glasses on the market.
The ability to work from virtual portable screens, especially on long-haul flights, has been extremely beneficial, and the best part is that no one has approached me to inquire about the strange device I was wearing on my face.
It’s not without flaws, but with some tweaks to its tracking, software, and the removal of the USB-C cable, it could be one of the best tech wearables.
As it stands, it’s still an incredible device, allowing a quick smartphone tether to bring any content from your phone, Mac, or gaming console onto larger virtual screens. And for that ability alone, it’s worth the $379 price tag, and regardless – it’s a really exciting glimpse into the future of smart glasses. When the Nreal Air is released, I’d like to compare it to Apple’s own rumored and upcoming AR headset.
I’ll leave a link to my 200” projector setup in my studio if you want to see an at-home big-screen setup which is also amazing for games and movies when I’m home.