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TCL’s Nxtwear G movie glasses could have been great

Let me ask you a question: Do you really Want to buy a couple of Personal Cinema glasses? As cool as they may be, they still feel like an artifact from a dystopia that isn’t even going to engulf you. When the air is hot and the sea is bubbling, you can’t insert a 40-inch HDTV into your existence-support-pod, so these should do it. He hardly shouts “aspiration.”

It doesn’t help that anyone – no Sony, Avegant, Royole nor others – managed to make this concept work. Personal cinemas, then, have replaced VR as access whenever someone needed to talk about a product that is perennially on the brink of collapse, and has never done so. But, despite being a solution in search of a problem, and its historical society, things may be on the verge of change.

You see, TCL has been knocking on this particular door for years and now, it’s preparing to launch its first model. I Nxtwear G Wearable Display Glasses solves many of the problems that plagued those previous attempts. They’re not perfect, and you probably don’t want to buy a pair now, but this is the closest anyone has been able to get this concept to work.

TCL’s Nxtwear G puts two small screens near your eyes to trick you into thinking you’re looking at a bigger screen. Rather than tapping the glasses full of technology, TCL put two displays, a pair of speakers and a positioning hardware inside. This keeps the weight up to 130 grams very manageable (4.5 oz), much smoother for the neck for long-term wear.

Everything else, including power, is handled by the device to which you connect it, and the list of compatible hardware is quite long. You can use major phones from Samsung, LG and OnePlus, as well as over 30 laptops and more than 25 tablets and 2-in-1s. Essentially, TCL has made a plug-and-play external display for your head that should play well with any USB-C device equipped with DisplayPort.

The company has decided to go against much of the received wisdom we have seen with other personal films. Instead of trying to surround the user in a black hole, it’s best to replicate that tenth-screen-in-a-mall-multiplex sense, TCL wants you to see the outside world. Even when I tested the prototype, back in 2019, Their representatives said you should feel comfortable carrying this on public transportation, interacting with people like you.

Daniel Cooper

With all the devices I’ve tested, just plug in the Nxtwear G and it all starts. If you are using a TCL compatible phone, you will receive a popup asking if you want to use mirror mode, or PC mode, which puts you in Android desktop mode. The phone then acts as a touchpad for you to navigate around with your finger, even if you want to do more than just tap and hold, buy a keyboard and a Bluetooth mouse.

Connecting it to my MacBook Pro, too, and the machine recognized it as an external display and I was able to work and watch TV with my primary display turned off. In fact, I wrote a piece of this piece while I was at it, though I had to rotate the zoom to crazy levels to make sure everything was readable.

The Nxtwear G includes a pair of 16: 9, 60Hz 1080p micro-OLED displays that the company says are the equivalent of a 140-inch screen. This requires the usual suspension of eye strain but the effect works here, and the speakers do their job pretty well. It’s worth saying that they essentially shoot audio in any direction, so pick up your Bluetooth headphones if, for example, your partner gets really angry when they can hear you watching. Culombu when you are both in bed.

I don’t know if you should expect perfect pixel video quality from such a small pair of screens, but be warned that they don’t beat your smartphone. Sure, HD video looks nice, but the small size of the screens means it’s really hard to see good detail. The colors were washed out, definitely compared to the movie I was playing on the TCL 20 Pro 5G and the MacBook Pro I was connected to during testing.

TCL’s pitch is to say that in addition to passive vision, you can also use glasses to work and that’s where I think TCL can have some success. Like I said, it’s possible to work with these on, and it would make sense to use them if you were to see sensitive documents. When working, for example, on a train, this is the perfect antidote for shoulder surfers and other drive-by snoopers. Of course, for anyone who makes the inevitable joke of watching adult content without anyone noticing, have a cookie.

What TCL has managed to do is, many times, solve the riddle so that you can always want to use a personal cinema. There are times and places where it can be done both for work (more or less) and for play (under certain circumstances). Unfortunately, while the company was taking big steps to solve technical problems, it didn’t have a huge amount of time to devote to making this experience comfortable.

Your mileage may change, but I have found that wearing these glasses can be a delightful experience until the moment it becomes painful. It is, now, impossible to use them for an extended period of time before something starts to hurt, both on the outside and on your skull.

Image from the inside

Daniel Cooper

One of the most problematic design decisions TCL has made is to include a trio of nasal tampons that push the screen up and down. The idea is to keep the screens in line with your eyes, but the unfortunate result is that you need to put the tampons in your nose. Like, to the point where you feel like you, no matter the size, you feel like you’re wearing those wire handles to close the nostrils that professional swimmers wear during sporting events.

Then there are the Temple Councils, the part of the arms of the glass that bends to hang above the ears. Although with regular glasses those tips are semi-plastic and can be adjusted optically (or at home, with a hair dryer and a bit of makeup), the arms of the Nxtwear G are rigid. Prolonged wear periods mean you’ll get two slices of hard plastic that stick to the soft fleshy piece of your head behind your ears.

The solution I found to alleviate both problems, at least for a while, was to completely remove the nose pads and wear them like regular glasses. After all, as a wearer of experienced specifications, I accepted that the experience might not be so good – but I found that this was actually better. I had a full view of the screen and it was significantly more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time. But, unfortunately, the reason why the nose pads are sticking out of your schnozz is to prevent it from getting hot, since the Nxtwear G generates a decent amount of heat (not heat, heat, take care).

And then, finally, there is the problem of eye fatigue which, no matter how I carry these things, also means I have to give up for significant periods of rest. Maybe, it’s because I’m short-sighted, and so my eyes are already faint and weak compared to the average personal movie entertainer. But I doubt it, and suspect that many people may run the risk of a headache torn from their eyes if they use it too much at once.

Now, I bet you think “gee, if these were priced as an accessory, I’d take a couple just to see what it’s all about.” I don’t blame TCL for having to recoup some of the development costs for these things, though boy. These glasses are on sale in Oz for $ 899 AUS, which is the best part of $ 700 in the United States. Heck, you can buy TCL’s new 20 Pro 5G for $ 500 and just keep it close to your face and stand on your back for your savings.

Facetiousness aside, I think TCL deserves a huge credit for doing what can only be described as the best portable display ever made. And if you’re capable, I’ll say I should go try these, because my comfort-related puzzles can’t affect you. And TCL deserves a lot of scrutiny to make these things cheaper and a little less likely to pinch, because we’re so damn close. Honestly, if personal cinemas become a success, it will be because they follow the model that TCL has established. It just needs some recovery.

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