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I'd recommend the Viture One XR glasses to traveling professionals, gamers, and those who want a more private but accessible display experience.
They're priced fairly at $439 (with 10% off on Amazon), and field myopia adjustment dials for improved clarity.
Still, expect some blurred edges as you look around the virtual 120-inch display.
As I make my way to the back of the commuter bus, I pull out what looks like an ordinary pair of sunglasses (with only slightly thicker frames), connect its MagSafe-like power adapter to my MacBook, sit, and start to click, drag, scroll, and type.
This almost sounds like the Vision Pro dream that many will soon be able to experience, but it's achieved through a $400 wearable, not a front-heavy headset that costs an arm and a leg.
From a bystander's view, I look like the mightiest of keyboard warriors, churning out bodies of text without ever needing to look down at the QWERTY layout on my laptop. From my view, I'm staring at a 120-inch display projected two feet in front of me thanks to a meticulous arrangement of light and mirrors within the Viture One's XR Glasses.
Instead of transmitting you into a virtual or augmented reality like Apple's Vision Pro, the Viture glasses simply extend from -- and are powered by -- the source they're connected to, serving as an ultraportable, on-your-face monitor. To be clear, comparing the XR Glasses to a $3,500 productivity wearable is an apples-to-oranges affair. Unless you consider yourself an early adopter, the target customers of the two gadgets are notably different.
Viture is pitching its glasses to people who want to game, watch movies, or surf the web without needing to be physically in front of a TV or office desk. The glasses' 120-inch projection is more suited for folks who would rather binge-watch shows while lying in bed or are on a flight and seek privacy when using a phone, tablet, or laptop. But the overlap in use cases is uncanny and not unintentional.
My use case slots right in between: I want a larger platform to draft news and reviews and answer secretive emails as I sit in the make-believe comfort of public transit. The glasses are also practical for when your partner wants to watch The Bachelor on the living room TV, but you're more interested in the marriage of basketball and the spirit of competition.
Thanks to the single USB-C cable needed to power the device, I can easily pair the Viture glasses to my MacBook or Android phone. Bonus points if the latter is a Samsung Galaxy that supports DeX mode or a Motorola handset that supports Ready For; in those two platforms, you'll be greeted with a desktop interface of your usual mobile apps and services.
Here's the killer feature of the Viture glasses: Spatial video support, the same 3D playback capability as found on the Vision Pro. While an adapter is necessary for the glasses to pair with an iPhone, the company has developed a new SpaceWalker app on iOS that lets users watch spatial videos recorded by an iPhone 15 Pro or Vision Pro. I played a couple of clips that I had previously reserved for the Apple headset, and reliving those moments with such depth and realism was quite eye-opening.
Of course, there's no standard of spatial video playback quality for me to compare with, but based on what I saw, the essence of the format was there. I could see the separation between the subjects in the videos, and that remained consistent so long as my camera was well-distanced and in focus.
As far as the visual experience of the glasses goes, it's adequate, but nothing groundbreaking. For prescription wearers like myself, there are two Myopia rotary knobs (think focus dials) on the top of the Viture One that can be adjusted to your vision. That means you don't have to, and shouldn't, wear the XR glasses over your existing pair. You also don't need to fork up $150 for tailor-made prescription lenses like you would with the Vision Pro.
I found the best way to calibrate this was to keep the opposite eye closed as I was tuning each side. However, finding the perfect focus will take some trial and error, and even when you think you've struck the right distance, the corners and edges of the 120-inch projection will remain blurry.
That seems to be unavoidable due to how large but close the projections are to your eyes. For example, if you hold an object an inch from your eyes, you'll notice how difficult it is to focus on it.
Still, Viture has integrated some clever mechanisms with the lenses, like a self-dimming electrochromic film that you can toggle on or off depending on how bright your environment is. It's basically a built-in projector shade and helps the most when you're using the glasses outdoors.
Viture partnered with Harman to develop and tune the side-firing speakers of the wearable, and I'm impressed. They remind me a lot of bone-conduction headphones where audio beams against the side of your head and into your ears. Since the speakers are lying against you, no one but you can hear the audio output, which adds to the privacy focus that the company is going for.
Perhaps the biggest question with such wearables is whether or not they cause symptoms of dizziness and motion sickness. From my experience, which includes one- to two-hour stints, I never felt discomfort when using the glasses.
I credit that to two factors: the lightness of the wearable compared to traditional headsets and the wearer's ability to retain spatial awareness. Remember, the glasses are not a standalone device with its own operating system. They're simply an external monitor reshaped into something more pocketable. And thanks to the transparency of the lenses, you'll never feel like you're drawn into another reality when you have them on.
ZDNET's buying advice
At the time of writing, the Viture One XR Glasses are selling for $439, and that includes the power adapter, a carrying case, and nose pads in various heights. For the price, I'd recommend these to traveling professionals, gamers, and those who want a more private but accessible display experience. The Viture One XR Glasses won't beat the Meta Quest 3 or Apple Vision Pro, but they bring enough to the table to ease any FOMO you might have as more expensive headsets hit the market.