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The leaps in both virtual reality and augmented reality technology in recent months is nothing short of staggering. Smaller processor chips, batteries and jumps in lens technology have made it possible to make sleeker headsets for consumers. Up until now though, even the smallest units have looked a little clunky or dare I say, dorky! But all that is about to change. Introducing the NReal Air augmented reality glasses. Finally, fashion and function collide spectacularly! Let’s get into it!
Brief History – What Do We Know About The Developer NReal
NReal formed back in 2017 and has set about transforming the augmented reality world as we know it. Recognized throughout the business world for their superior display technology and sleek finished product designs. They are one of the few companies recognized on a global scale for their achievements since 2017 and have led the way in augmented reality technology. Over the years, NReal have formed partnerships with more than 10 world-famous carriers and has brought its finished products to six countries and counting.
Their first finished product launched in 2019 called the NReal Light which revolutionized the AR community. Featuring a sleek portable design and using existing mobile phone technology for processing power and battery life, the NReal light won multiple design awards and helped launch the company to dizzying new heights. Awards won include best of show CES 2019 and again, best of show in 2020.
NReal currently employs over 400 workers and continues to launch augmented reality products searching for quality of life improvements over what has come before. Which brings us nicely to the NReal Air which launched earlier this year 2022.
Under the Hood – The Tech Behind The NReal Air
Looking at a spec sheet for the NReal Air makes it hard to feel impressed. Below is just some of the design and technology specifications you can expect to see if you purchase a pair of NReal Air augmented glasses:
Size and Form Factor:
- 148mm x 52mm x 159mm (opened)
- 148mm x 52mm x 60mm (folded)
- 3-Position adjustment for optimal gaze angle
- Head width from 120-186mm
- Up to 5 hours of video streaming in Air Casting mode (which is double its predecessor)
- 3840 by 1080 pixels with sRGB 108% color gamut, 8-bit depth for 16.773 million colors
- Up to 400 nits perceived brightness
- 100,000:1 contrast ratio
- ~46 degree FoV, 49 pixels per degree (PPD)
- 130″ at 4m (Air Casting Mode), 201″ at 6m (MR Space Mode)
- Fingerprint-resistant coating, anti-reflective coating
- 2 open-ear speakers
- Dual microphone array, omnidirectional MEMS microphones
- Bass boost, virtual rendering
- Echo cancellation, noise cancellation, beamforming, speech enhancement
- 3DoF head tracking
Sensors & Controls:
- Screen on/off button
- Screen brightness adjustment button
- Accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer
- Proximity sensor
- Detachable cable
- Prescription-lens frame
- 3 nose pads (to suit varying in size)
- Cleaning cloth
Everything combines nicely to bring a very powerful and robust augmented reality pair of glasses right to the consumer’s hands. All of this for the very reasonable price of £399 too making the NReal Air one of the most impressive pairs of AR glasses on the market to date.
Form Factor – What Makes The NReal Glasses Stand Out In A Crowd
It can’t be overstated that the overall finished product is a sleek high-quality design. These look like high-end fashionable sunglasses that aren’t clunky or ugly in any way. Quite the opposite, in fact, these sunglasses are very stylish and look good. They are slightly bigger than a normal pair of sunglasses with the nose grip making them sit a little higher off your face but that’s it.
Other than a second glance, it’s hard to notice that the wearer isn’t just rocking a pair of sexy sunglasses. The finish is highly polished and the overall design is of the highest quality. They also come with a stylish designer carry case so you can take them anywhere with you.
Take your big screen wherever you go and look good while doing it. Being a geek has never looked so good! Everything is adjustable too for your comfort. The arms are ergonomically designed with spring hinges which are flexible for up to 40 degrees. The arms can also move up and down in three different positions while the nose pinch can be adjusted or swapped out for different thickness to suit everyone’s unique facial features.
User Experience – What Can You Use Your NReal Glasses For?
The NReal glasses are at their best when you are streaming content. The high quality lenses can display pixel-perfect pictures and movies on a screen measuring approximately 201inches. The picture quality is full HD at 1080P. The field of view too is also impressive at 46 degrees which leads to a minimal goggle-like effect. Watching YouTube is as easy as plugging in your phone and selecting the app.
The Nebula app is the official app of choice with your unit and the interface is simple yet intuitive to use. The home screen presents you with two options, my space or air casting. The air casting selection is most likely what you will use if you are looking to play content through the lenses such as movies, tv shows or any other type of streaming content you desire.
The display through your lenses can be selected up to 201inches giving the appearance that you are watching your content on a huge cinema screen right in front of you. The blackout shade covers that come packaged with the glasses are recommended to block out the outside world while you want your content. The NReal Air supports both 2D and 3D content so watching Star Wars in stunning 3D has never looked better.
Streaming or general use will gobble up your phone battery life but it’s better than having a clunky battery pack that needs to be charged separately. Great for train or plane journeys when you want to block out the world and lose yourself in some entertainment. However, we shouldn’t skip over the main feature of the app which is MR Space.
MR (Mixed Reality) Space turns your phone into a pointer, and you are presented with a virtual space to play around in. You can open multiple browsers and windows or even play AR games. It allows you to set up the screens in any position and size you want and the virtual space is customizable to fit your moods or needs. The presentation here is overall impressive and sleek making you feel comfortable in a VR/AR environment. The apps available are also pretty cool ranging from fitness and yoga experiences to fun shooting games.
To show what potential it has, the VR cycling app can be used in tandem with your own exercise bike (if you have one). Getting to journey through beautiful parts of the world while getting your sweat on is almost a zen-like experience and well worth checking out. Or maybe you like to blast alien ships in your living room with a nifty little AR game. There is already a decent selection and it keeps expanding. The potential here for growth is very promising.
Overall – My Biggest Take Away Points from Using NReal Air
The product is a little too expensive if you’re already a seasoned VR user. This will not replace your Meta Quest 2 or your Vive if you’re lucky to own these devices. However, if you’re more of a casual viewer and don’t already own a VR or AR device, then NReal Air might be the perfect gift for you. The on-the-go functionality is very appealing and this is a great little device if you travel or commute often.
One of the best experiences I had with the device was lounging on my sofa watching a football match on my ceiling while also having some of my social media apps opened to the side so I could chat with my friends who were also watching the same match. Sure, you could watch your TV and have your phone in your hand but the level of immersion just wouldn’t be the same.
NReal Air is stylish, easy to use and provides a great mixed reality experience for its users. It also has potential for future growth, and hopefully, we start to see some killer apps launching soon in their app lab. The price point is a little high so perhaps wait for a sale or a drop in price but there’s no denying that this is one of the best portable mixed reality devices currently on the market! Not to be missed.
If you’d like to learn more about other AR glasses coming soon, then check this out.