The first thing you notice when you put on the Nreal Air AR goggles is how light they are. And then when you turn them on, how immersive and impressive the Augmented Reality effect really is.
Unlike full VR headsets, these aren’t much more substantial than regular goggles. It’s 2.79 ounces or 79 g, actually. They look good and are hard to distinguish from regular sunglasses at first glance. Until you see the cable winding from your ear to your smartphone.
Admittedly, that’s not usually how specs or sunglasses work, but that’s the only drawback. Inside, the glasses look very different, with two 3840 x 1080 pixel OLED screens projecting images onto the internal lenses.
The phone at the other end of the cable is your remote, designed with big on-screen buttons in the app so you hardly have to look at it.
Which is good, because your attention is focused on the virtual screen that it places before your eyes, equivalent to a screen of up to 201 inches, apparently, although when you are using it you are only aware that it occupies most of your vision.
This means it’s great for watching Netflix or BT Sports on a train, or playing a game on the go (although be careful, it’s easy to get carried away while gaming, so keep your fellow passengers in mind).
Audio comes to you via directional speakers on the arms of the glasses, but you can opt for a Bluetooth connection to your favorite ears if you prefer. You can also connect a Bluetooth game controller.
The Nreal Air AR glasses depend on a decent connection, wi-fi or 5G, which may be one of the reasons why they are exclusive to EE, the UK operator with an advanced 5G service.
You can still see the world around you, though if you really want to lose yourself in your movie stream, you can fit a light shield.
One of the reasons the Nreal Air glasses are so light is that they don’t have a battery: they draw power from the Android phone they’re attached to. It is estimated that you will get five hours of video streaming before your phone has problems. More than enough for most daily commutes, then.
You can wear them over your existing specs, with adjustable nose clips that ensure a good fit, but are more comfortable without them.
An Air Casting option means other features of your phone can also be displayed on the same big virtual screen – it’s an effective screen mirroring effect.
Screen effects are excellent and are enhanced with Light Shield in place, circumstances permitting. But they’re good enough to be a cool way to get a big-screen effect with a couple of cool, lightweight specs.
The Nreal Air AR goggles go on sale next week and cost $490 (£399) for new or existing EE customers, and eligible pay-monthly customers can spread the cost interest-free over 11 months.