The Xreal Air 2 AR glasses

Xreal Air 2 review: Game-changing AR glasses under $400

Aside from a few minor quirks, the Xreal Air 2 is an impressive device that excels in screen mirroring

The Xreal Air 2 AR glasses
Xreal Air 2 review
Bottom Line
Forget bulky VR goggles: the Xreal Air 2 is the wearable display you've been waiting for. These sleek sunglasses let you watch movies, play games, and get work done – all on a private, stunning 1080p virtual display that feels shockingly natural and intimate.
Pros
Excellent color, detail, and resolution
Simple to use
Lightweight and discreet
Speakers work very well
Built-in microphone
Bright
Includes a carrying case
Includes a USB-C cable braided and designed to plug cleanly into the glasses
Reasonably priced
No battery, and the glasses don't need to be charged
Up to 120hz refresh rate
Cons
If you wear prescription glasses, you'll need to fill out the prescription for the included frames
No app for Windows, iPhone, or most Android phones
No out-of-the-box compatibility with most Android phones
Would have been better if the Beam accessory tech were built-in
Some iPhone apps won't let you use them to watch content (i.e., Disney app)
Nebula and Beam are both buggy at times
4.6

We’ve all heard of popular AR and VR goggles like the Vision Pro announced by Apple, Meta‘s Quest, and Oculus, or maybe even HTC’s Vive.

Few have heard of the brand putting out the best and most usable AR glasses that exist today: Xreal (formerly Nreal). While other AR glasses focus on gaming and social gimmicks, the Xreal Air 2 takes the path less traveled, excelling in screen mirroring and projection.

Its crisp 1080p resolution, lightweight design, and ease of use transform your everyday surroundings into an immersive cinematic experience. Whether you’re catching up on work on a virtual triple monitor setup or enjoying a movie on a seemingly 330-inch screen, the Xreal Air 2 redefines how we interact with digital content.

We delve into this groundbreaking device, exploring its capabilities, compatibility, and the unique experiences it offers in this Xreal Air 2 review.

Xreal Air 2: Design

At first glance, the Xreal Air 2 might trick you into thinking they’re just a stylish pair of sunglasses. Their Wayfarer-inspired design and sleek profile seamlessly blend into any environment, making them a discreet yet powerful companion.

The only visible indications of the Xreal Air 2’s advanced technology are the slightly thicker arms, a braided black cable running down the back, and a barely noticeable glow from the lenses when the display is active.

The glasses weigh a mere 72 grams, a remarkable feat of engineering that ensures all-day comfort. There’s no built-in battery that helps keep the shades minimalistic: you can power it with the same USB-C cable that plugs into your phone or computer.

While the Xreal Air 2’s lenses offer a typical level of darkness comparable to regular sunglasses, they also come with clip-on blackout shades for a more immersive viewing experience. Unlike goggles, these glasses do allow some light to leak in through the sides, but we found this to be minimal and not distracting.

The shades feature a minimalist control scheme with just two hard buttons for adjusting brightness and a single button for toggling the screen on and off. You can customize additional settings through the Nebula app or the optional Beam device.

When you look at the inside of the glasses, you can tell that these are special AR glasses. The nose pads are attached to adjustable metal arms, and Xreal has included three removable sizes. In front of the lenses are a couple more lenses and the AR technology, including the two 0.55-inch micro OLED Sony displays.

Xreal includes a removable frame for prescription lenses, which we’re considering getting lenses fit for. They, unfortunately, won’t fit on top of your regular prescription eyeglasses, and sadly, there’s no way to compensate for your vision. If you’re a glasses wearer, your only option is to fill the prescription for the included snap-on lenses.

In addition to the impressive visual technology, Xreal includes speakers, microphones, and a wear sensor.

Xreal Air 2 glasses: Setup and software

Xreal Air 2 with the carrying case, USB cable, extra nose pads and snap-on lenses
The Xreal Air 2 setup is remarkably straightforward. Just connect the glasses to your device with the included USB-C cable, and within seconds, the 1080p display appears

The setup of the Xreal Air 2 is surprisingly simple for such advanced technology. Simply plug the glasses into your device using the provided USB-C cable, and within seconds, the 1080p display appears before your eyes. No additional software or updates are required, as your device recognizes the glasses as an external monitor.

Configure the display settings as you would with any other monitor. However, you won’t be able to adjust the screen size, location, and spatial features without the Nebula software.

The display remains centered in your glasses and moves with your head. While we didn’t need an update to get these working, we’d still recommend it. The Nebula software will do that for you. With Nebula on Mac, you can set the size and distance of the screen, plus you can choose between 1 and 3 virtual monitors.

More importantly, Nebula enables two viewing modes that make it a lot more natural to use the smart glasses: It offers smooth follow that will reduce jitters when you subtly move your head, and it lets you pin your display(s) in one spot so that the experience is more akin to using actual monitors.

On the train or plane, we pin the screen to the seat back in front of us. With this, you can set your screen size to be larger than the viewing size and just move your head around to see the full screen. Unfortunately, the Nebula software only works on MacOS currently. If you want these features to work on Windows or your phone, you’ll need the additional Beam accessory.

Xreal Air 2: Usability

Xreal Air 2 outside the box
There are many reasons to use the Xreal Air 2 instead of a traditional display. Our favorite is for privacy. You can work on the train or plane, look at sensitive documents and personal photos, or chat without nosey neighbors

Everyone’s first impression is, “Wow, the resolution is incredible.” The screen is 1080p and looks crisp and vivid. It’s about as easy to focus on small text as it is on a real display. Sometimes, viewing around the edges or viewing small text for too long can get cumbersome. Still, the screen is otherwise quite easy and natural to use.

The colors and details are outright impressive. Out of the box, we find the screen size similar to sitting close to a 15″ laptop or a monitor. Your perception of the screen size depends on your content, settings, and environment — when watching videos in bed, it feels more like a 330″ screen.

The screen takes up most of your field of vision, but these are not as immersive as VR goggles, and they won’t work for VR content.

The screen blocks out most of the light behind it and gets very bright. It’s bright enough to overlay the Xreal display right on top of your laptop screen or the seat back display on an airplane without distraction. You can even overlay it on top of a bright outside window, but that’s where too much light may pass through for our liking.

We rarely need the clip-on blackout shades, but they’re useful if you want to use this outside in the sun or if you want more of a movie theater experience. The fit, weight, display, and cable are all very easy to work with. There’s also no heat or noise. Watching a video or working with the Air 2 is surprisingly natural. Like any screen, your eyes can get tired, especially if the text is too small.

The glasses are more challenging to use when moving, whether on a train, in a car, or walking on a treadmill. You don’t realize how much your head moves naturally, making it very hard to focus.

The Nebula software or the Beam accessory (sold separately) fixes this with “smooth follow” or “body anchoring,” which prevents the screen from jittering. These features will also make looking at the screen feel more natural. Body Anchoring is where you pin the screen — we’re not sure how it works, but we’ve noticed that the screen position will drift as the train makes turns.

The built-in speakers on the Xreal Air 2 are quite good. They won’t give you as much privacy as headphones, but they’re still personal, and it feels great having your ears unplugged. Of course, you can choose to use your own headphones, but these speakers sound just as good.

There are a bunch of reasons to use the Xreal Air 2 instead of a traditional display. Our favorite is for privacy. You can work on the train or plane, look at sensitive documents and personal photos, or chat without nosey neighbors.

The other thing we love about the Xreal glasses is that we can keep our posture in check and pin the screen high up to prevent hunching. Of course, just getting to watch content on a gigantic screen in any setting is a great reason, too.

The Nebula app allows you to create three monitors, but we have a hard time moving apps between the three monitors. Mac’s Mission Control feature doesn’t work as expected. Using the Xreal Air 2 with a smartphone is ideal for viewing content or playing games with simple controls. The experience becomes less intuitive for tasks that require precise touch interactions.

The inability to see and align your fingers on the phone’s screen makes it difficult to perform actions like opening apps, typing, or working with any small action buttons. This limitation is absent when using the glasses with a computer, as the visible mouse cursor and tactile keyboard provide a more natural and precise interaction.

Xreal Air 2 AR glasses: Compatibility and connectivity

Xreal Air 2 connectivity
The Xreal Air 2 works with any device that has USB-C Video output. Our MacBook and iPhone 15 Pro worked out of the box. A Windows computer, Steam Deck, and USB-C iPad should also work

The Xreal Air 2 works with any device that has USB-C Video output. Our MacBook and iPhone 15 Pro worked out of the box. A Windows computer, Steam Deck, and USB-C iPad should also work.

You’ll need the Beam accessory (sold separately) to get it to work with HDMI devices like Xbox, PS5, or Nintendo Switch. Sadly, only certain Android phones will work with a direct connection, like some of the Samsung Galaxy and some of the OnePlus, LG, Oppo, and Sony phones. It did not work with our Nothing Phone 2.

The other compatibility ‘gotcha’ is that some content is DRM (Digital Rights Management, a way to protect digital media copyrights) and will not play from an iPhone. Everything works for us on YouTube, but some content on the Disney app won’t play.

Xreal Air 2: Beam accessory

The Xreal Air 2 connected to the Beam accessory
The Xreal Air 2’S Beam accessory helps you get a lot more value out of the glasses if you want to use it with your phone, HDMI device, or even without a device

The Beam accessory is $119 (or $100 when bundled) and helps you get a lot more value out of the glasses if you want to use it with your phone, HDMI device, or even without a device.

The most noticeable improvement of using the Xreal glasses with the iPhone is the smooth-follow feature, which eliminates screen jitters while you’re moving. The Nebula app also gives you this functionality, but it only works on Mac.

Beam supports AirPlay and can even run its own apps, so you can watch Netflix or Amazon content without needing to hook up to a phone or computer. The device itself is about the size of an iPod and looks like one, too.

Xreal Air 2 review: Final thoughts

Xreal Air 2 unboxed
Despite a few minor quirks, the Xreal Air 2 is a worthwhile investment at $399. If you plan on using these with your phone more than a laptop, we recommend bundling the Beam for a total of $499

The Xreal Air 2 is an impressive device, excelling in its core function of screen mirroring. The vivid 1080p display delivers stunning visuals, making it a joy to watch movies and TV shows, play games, and even work.

While the native functionality is excellent, the Nebula software and Beam accessory further enhance the experience, providing additional features like smooth follow and anchored display.

While the Xreal brand may not be as familiar as some of its competitors, the technology they offer is remarkably advanced and user-friendly. Anyone who has tried the Xreal Air 2 has been instantly amazed by its capabilities.

Having used them for weeks, we can confidently say that these glasses are more than just a passing gimmick. They are usable, enjoyable, and serve a real purpose for us.

Our favorite use case is working privately on a large screen while commuting on the train. Every now and then, we also get great enjoyment out of watching movies and TV on them.

Despite a few minor quirks, these glasses are a worthwhile investment at their $399 price point. If you plan on using these with your phone more than a laptop, we recommend bundling the Beam for a total of $499.

XREAL Air 2 AR Glasses
$399.00

The Xreal Air 2 is a sleek pair of sunglasses that transform your world with a stunning 1080p screen. Watch movies, play games, and get work done – all on a private, virtual display that feels shockingly natural and intimate.

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02/05/2024 10:43 pm GMT
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