Although Augmented Reality (AR) has been around as a concept for over a decade, the tech has really come to the fore in recent years. With VR headsets like the Meta Quest 3 incorporating AR, the idea of having interactive elements mixed with your live environment has become more exciting than ever. And companies like XReal are looking to capitalize on that excitement with products like the XReal Air 2.
The idea behind the Xreal Air 2 is fairly simple. You connect a media device to a pair of sunglasses/tinted glasses and tiny displays within them project a massive screen into your environment. Meanwhile, small speakers cut out of the tops and bottoms of the temples of the glasses project audio directly toward your ears. In essence, you’re watching and listening to a giant screen that isn’t there.
That concept alone is cool enough and makes the XReal Air 2 instantly appealing. Not needing to access a TV or monitor to play games, watch movies, or just browse the Internet delivers on a promise that sci-fi movies made long ago. XReal makes it practical and very easy to use, and a 3-phase dimming capability on the Pro model of the XReal Air 2 lets you keep out bright light from your environment. The Air 2 and the Air 2 Pro models also come with a shade that pops over the lenses and blocks out outside light even further.
To get the XReal Air 2 glasses up and running requires minimal effort. A USB-C cable that runs from the Temple Tip (the end of the arms that go over your ears) plugs into any device that uses USB-C for output. For example, you can run a USB-C cable from a Steam Deck and have a much larger screen to work with. Essentially, as long as there is a way to output the device’s video signal via USB-C, then it can connect directly to the XReal Air 2 glasses.
The best part is that the XReal Air 2 glasses draw power directly from the device they connect to, so there is no need to supply extra power with an additional cable. They fit comfortably like a pair of sunglasses with enough give on the temples to fit larger heads, and the micro-OLED screens on the inside are 1080p 120Hz, projecting a crisp and clear virtual display wherever you are. Arguably, the biggest benefit is that the screen is locked to your head’s position, so you can rest on a pillow and still have a clear view of your game or movie.
The XReal Air 2 Glasses are as much about comfort as they are impressive.
XReal Beam Expands the AR Functionality
While that USB-C limitation can seem like it narrows the utility of the XReal Air 2 glasses, the company also sells a device called the Beam that acts like an adapter for any HDMI-based device. With the Beam, you can play console games or view your laptop through the glasses’ display, which feels like some genuine future tech at work. The Beam can also work as a casting device that you wirelessly connect to and then output the video to the XReal Air 2 glasses. It opens the XReal Air 2 up to practically any possibility; it can even store videos or Android apps on its 32GB drive.
Beyond being an expanded option for connectivity, the Beam also unlocks the ability to anchor a display in real space so it feels more like a virtual TV than a display hovering in front of your face. Without the Beam, the XReal Air 2 display is tethered to your movements and is projected at a fixed point relative to you. With Beam, the display can become anchored to a spot within your environment and your movements won’t change its place in real space. You can also use the Beam to side anchor the display, making it so you can pay attention to something in front of you while simultaneously viewing the AR screen.
There is no doubt that the XReal Air 2 and the Beam are very cool pieces of tech. Being able to access a massive “TV” while freeing up your actual display is a huge boon for gamers especially, but plenty will find uses for the device. You could be on an airplane and not be limited to a tiny screen on a handheld or mobile device. You can lay in bed and keep that gaming session going as if you were still in your living room. Or you can fire up a Netflix movie while your partner watches cable in the same room.
Some Devices That Can Connect to XReal Air 2:
- Mobile phone
- Nintendo Switch
- Xbox Series X/S
- PC Gaming Handheld (Steam Deck, ROG Ally, etc.)
While the XReal Air 2 has broadened the possibilities for consuming media, they are not without some limitations. Glasses-wearers, for example, will need to buy prescription inserts if they want the clearest picture possible. We went with the option from VRock in our testing and they worked great in the XReal Air 2. However, taking the inserts in and out is not that practical and kind of a pain, so keep that in mind if you plan to share the glasses.
The other limitation is power, which is always a factor when it comes to tech. Without its own power source, the XReal Air 2 glasses draw power directly from that USB-C cable and therefore drain the battery of the connected device that much faster. So if you’re using a device that already runs through battery quickly like a Lenovo Legion GO, then it is going to deplete even faster.
The Beam, on the other hand, can hold a charge of roughly 3-4 hours, which is solid for what the device can offer. Still, there are limitations for potential buyers to be aware of depending on how they might use the XReal Air 2.
XReal’s Air 2 glasses are additive, and therefore the benefits are going to vary from person to person. If you have unfettered access to a large 4K TV, for example, the glasses might not be as useful as they would be for someone who travels a lot or is constantly fighting for some screen time. Those who fall into the latter camp will find that the XReal Air 2 delivers on its promise and is an impressive piece of tech. In the AR/MR market, XReal has certainly put itself in a position to succeed.
XREAL Air 2
Welcome to the era of Wearable Display built on cutting-edge AR technologies with industry-leading image quality. One screen to replace them all.
- Connective Technology
- USB-C, Casting
- 2nd Generation Sound System
- Refresh rate
- Up to 120Hz
- Field of view
- Large, impressive portable display
- Beam accessory allows more connectivity
- Comfortable to wear
- Power dependent on battery of connected device
The XReal Air 2 glasses are available for $399 or bundled with the Beam for $499. The XReal Air 2 Pro glasses are available for $449. Game Rant was provided review units for this coverage.