Looking outside of the obvious metaverse power players, I purchased the Nreal Air AR Glasses last week. At $379, it’s a much more approachable pricepoint for augmented reality devices compared with the $1,500 Meta Quest Pro. But price isn’t the only compelling part of the Nreal device.
They’re hands-down the best XR headset I’ve used, mainly because it utilizes the content and applications I’m already familiar with on my MacBook and Samsung Galaxy Fold. The Nreal Air headset plugs into a variety of compatible phones and Macs (in beta), and then using their Nebula app it populates an AR interface mirroring your device.
Nebula projects 2D content into an interactive 3D space that’s both familiar and intuitive to navigate. When run on compatible smartphones, Nebula not only mirrors your phone screen, but is also capable of running immersive AR experiences where digital objects can interact with the real world environment.
Basically, the Nreal Air allows me the mobility of bringing my workspace everywhere without having to learn any new apps or interfaces, since I’m mirroring what I already use on my phone and laptop. The learning curve of most metaverse apps is nonexistent with this device, which shouldn’t be understated.
With my Samsung Fold, I can instantly turn it into a portable augmented reality Chromebook. With my MacBook, I can quickly spin up 3 displays anywhere I am. This includes coffee shops, airplanes, hotel lobbies, etc. That’s convenience.
For what it’s worth as a mobile computer monitor and 200” entertainment screen, the Nreal captures these purposes perfectly. A $379 device has mobilized my whole desktop experience. And that’s a game-changer.
Not to mention, there’s no batteries or complex software I need to learn in order to get the most out of it. You just plug it into a compatible device and it works… every single time. That’s hard to say about most new devices or software these days.
Nreal’s value lies in the fact that they are making it easy for people to dip their toes in the metaverse. Specifically the metaverse for productivity. They’ve removed all friction from the experience and started simple – by translating people’s devices into AR displays.
I’m excited to see where Nreal takes its AR glasses next. But as it stands, they’re building a great case for getting acquired by Apple or Samsung – both of which need a mixed reality device to compete in this next era of consumer hardware.