I can't see the reality, only the augmentation, and it ain't great!

I got the Xreal Air 2 Pro, expecting the ability to see reality with potentially some augmented data superimposed.

What you get is a set of glasses, which mimik something what I guess you’d get from bi-focal glasses: two use cases supported via one set of glasses.

For the bi-focals that would be

#1 long distance viewing straight ahead (traditional lense set)
#2 reading distance looking downward (lense offset adjusted for older eyes that have issues accomodating for reading distance)

In the case of Xreal Air 2, the OLED display is super-imposed in the #1 straight ahead position while (at least) #2 is supposed to be a pass-through.

The problem is that #1 isn’t just a super-imposition and that #2 is never much of a pass-through, either.

Generally, even with nothing connected and thus without power, the Air 2 will block a lot of light. Where in theory you should be able to use the Air as a 2nd “secret” screen above the built-in one when you’re working on a notebook, even at maximum brightness settings on my Asus OLED 14" laptop, I had to strain my eyes to read black on white content, which was far too bright without the headset.

The #1 or straight-ahead area that gets super-imposed by the internal OLED displays is twice or more less transparent and I’m pretty sure I’d run into walls, people or traffic, if I were to use it on the go.

Perhaps that would work in California sunshine, but it sure doesn’t work in Central Europe’s winter weather, even at high-noon, nor indoors.

And yes, just in case you’d wonder, I did take off the “extra California cover”, which leads me to believe that in California the super-imposed OLED won’t be bright enough…

On the Xreal air 2 pro, you can adjust the transparency of the entire outside glass area in three settings, but the most transparent mode isn’t transparent enough and I guess the least transparent mode won’t cut it in California sunlight, because there is that extra cover for the “real darkmode”. Around here just cutting off the entire #2 area would make for a far more practical device, which could be sold as a “secret 2nd screen”. Of course it would look not nearly as cool, but I pay for practical usability.

It would still fail the definition of “augmented reality” as the reality is quite simply too dark to perceive even with the “augmentation” completely off.

I can’t tell if the “augmented” section would be bright enough to overcome a California sunshine reality, because I simply don’t have one near enough to try.

But the evident discrepancy in the transparency of the “augmented” and non-augmented section within the headset make that very unlikely.

All-in-all the Xreal Air 2 is huge disappointment and completely oversold as an augmented reality device.

If I could get it to work in a pedestrian mode (my Androids don’t work with it), that could be cool, but chances are I’d get killed trying that downtown because too little of the outside reality gets through.

In a bus, train or even in as a passenger in a car the built-in ear-speakers are too much of a bother for anyone next to you, so you’d be pretty much guaranteed to get some “glasshole” treatment. The speakers useless for music, but voice is somewhat better than typical phone quality.

For industrial remote service support applications the transparency in the lower #2 section is simply too low and you’d need a camera to make that work, too. No idea if the Air 2 has a microphone, which would be another issue.

And then I simply assumed that an augmented reality headset with two separate projection devices would support 3D viewing and applications: as far as I can tell that is not the case, both displays will always just mirror the display-port input as this is a zero-intelligence device.

Those are fine and may have their niche. But not at a > €600 price point.

And not when I can’t get them to fit my eyes or my mobile devices.

The Air 2 Pro is going retour because it didn’t even manage to fulfill the most basic use case that was left: acting as a 2nd screen on a stationary PC (because it wouldn’t fit my IPD and face height).

The web site is a terrible scrolling mess for iPad’ers, finding technical specs or useful information is next to impossible. The only PDFs are full of alphabets and languages, but no clues.

The videos sport a guy so beautiful and sexy even I as a straight man can see why women might want to eat him alive, but things like exactly how to swap the nose distance pieces get three frames where teethy smiles and suggestive gestures get 90% of the video.

It’s easy to see how 90% of the budget went into marketing and 10% into engineering.

And that’s just not working for me.

The “Beam” is still en-route, so I couldn’t test it, but basically I don’t expect much from it, since my mobile phones are vastly more capable devices than any Beam is likely to be.

And I guess that’s also true for the RTX 4090 on my desktop: whatever the Beam does, both should be better at it.

But I’ll have a look once it arrives, do a report here, and then return both in all likelyhood.

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So evidently there is some way of doing 3D there, I just don’t see yet how to get it usable in games yet, but perhaps that will require some further digging.

For now I’ve been able to play 3D movies, but it’s a challenge. VLC doesn’t seem to do it out of the box, the only player that worked right from the start is the Stereoscopic Player from 3dtv.at, where the side-by-side 3D-TV setting seems to get the job done (https://www.3dtv.at/).

If there is a way to make VLC work, please let me know, because that’s really my preferred player generally.

The FAQ mentions that input needs to be provided at 32:9 resolution, which is “interesting” but would hint at least at a full resolution mode.

Since that won’t come for free, I wonder if you’d need to sacrifice frame rates for that.

But what this really means is that Xreal should be quite capable of running true 3D e.g. for games and that might even have me revisit my current choice about the device.

Hi, abufrejoval. I’m sorry that the experience on the Air 2 Pro cannot meet your requirements. The AR experience of our glasses is mainly on the compatible Android phone (Nebula for Andorid is required), Macbooks, Windows PC, and Beam. Among those devices, the Mac and PC are also driven by Nebula software, which gives you multiple virtual screens. And on an Android phone, you can get AR experience like AR Pets, and 3D contents.

There is no Nebula software for the PC yet, or at least not publicly available.

To my PCs (mostly Lenovo and Asus Notebooks and one Serpent Canyon NUC so far, because my big machines only have DP outputs and I’m still waiting for the deliver of the proper adapter cable) the Xreal Air 2 pro simply appears like an extra screen, either in 1920x1080@60/90/120Hz (mirrored) or 3840x1080@60Hz (side-by-side) resolutions.

Augmented reality is significantly different from virtual reality (where the outside reality is expected to disappear) in that the outside reality retains a very high degree of fidelity: your access to reality is not impeded but enhanced. Whether the augmented part of the presentation needs to support 3D might be arguable, it is rather expected, especially when both eyes get individual screens.

Virtual reality definitely requires 3D support, individual projection to both eyes to create an illusion of spatiality.

Mixed reality falls somewhere into the middle and may also imply the ability to shift between the VR and AR extremes. But often it implies a bit of a compromise, it may not be able to quite achieve the fidelity of AR or VR.

And that is really how the Xreal Air might be described, because it clearly fails both the pure AR and VR qualities.

The Air 2 Pro fails to qualify for augmented reality, because the outside reality is clearly impacted to the point where it becomes useless: you cannot see enough of the outside to work or walk around safely.

In the Air 2 Pro you support 0%, 35% and 100% “blocking”, but that seems to be just an LCD layer + basic tinting that doesn’t translate to 100, 65 and 0 transparency for “black” pixels of the display.

Now 100% transparency for the reality may not be realistic, but there needs to be at least adequate transparency so the glasses retain visibility and don’t just become a “spectacle form-factor screen”.

But it’s more like the latter that you get, especially in the projection area straight ahead where you can’t safely walk around with these glasses put and even with both the OLED and the LCD blocker off, because there is too little light coming through.

And I could live with that if at least on the lower part of the headset, below the projection area, I could still work e.g. with the laptop screen in the classical book-reading position.

But there the basic tinting with zero blocking is already too dark to make that possible with my laptops, which even at maximum screen brightness can’t fight the tinting enough for a proper viewing experience.

With that the Xreal Air 2 really just becomes a head-mounted screen, which might have some applications e.g. in trains and airplanes, but probably not at this price point.

And so far it also fails the Virtual Reality spectrum of Mixed Reality, because it fails to work as a 3D display for PC or console games.

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Perusing the posts on the forum I came across a mention, that the headsets were originally sold as mixed reality devices.

That explains a lot and it matches what you get, neither VR or AR but something somewhere in the middle.

To put it more plainly: they fail at AR and they fail at VR.

Rebranding a hardware design doesn’t change it capabilities.

Nebula is the next issue, because it uses a single name across three hardware platforms: PC, Mac and Android, while whatever is called Nebula on Android has nothing to do with what’s advertised for the other two.

On PCs Nebula allows you to run your normal desktop applications on virtual screens without constraints, adaptations or those applications being aware of the “augmented” display.

On Android Nebula is a walled garden exclusive to apps written for it, while normal Android apps can’t use these virtual screens. There is zero chance your favorite apps will ever support Xreal, so Android is quite simply not a Nebula platform.

There is no functional overlap between the two, appyling the same brand isn’t just extremely misleading, it’s plain wrong.

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Xreal finally accepted a return and refund. So if you find yourself in a similiar situation, where you do not think you got what they were selling, I suggest you do the same. It should make them better at explaining what they do and a better company for that.