The best “XR” glasses to date—with caveats
The VITURE One XR Glasses are, as of this writing, certainly the best on-head/wearable displays on the market. But they are not without their flaws.
What’s in an “XR”?
The "XR" branding is important: currently most people agree that XR is the umbrella term under which AR (virtual objects displayed over/around real life objects only), MR (AR but you can interact with it and the virtual objects can fully react to the environment), and VR (can't see the outside world, view is totally replaced with a virtual scene) exists; so to call these "XR" glasses is marketing fluff at best.
The reason they chose the moniker is because the displays use mirrors and special lenses to project the displays onto your eyes, while allowing you to see through to the rest of the world. But just because they allow you to do this, like many of the wearable displays of the past, doesn’t make them true AR glasses or anything more; I believe that’s why they went with the “XR” branding, as they knew they could get away with it, while fooling potential customers into believing they were something special and new. But really, this technology has existed for decades, we just didn’t have anyone put it together in a truly accessible and effortlessly functional package. To VITURE’s credit, I believe they’ve achieved that, and better yet, have done it better than everyone else right now.
With some work, I don't doubt that these could more solidly fit into the AR glasses space. VITURE released an update to allow for some basic pitch/yaw head tracking to help people that get nausea when they use the glasses, but for now they really are just wearable displays, and that feature alone doesn’t make them “AR”.
The excellent displays and their many problems
So following that understanding, are the displays any good? Yes, as mentioned, they are really high quality OLED mini-panels with great colors and inky blacks. But there are some issues that prevent them from showing their true potential:
- Yellowing around the edges of vision. The lenses do not faithfully redirect light around the outer 3/4ths of the display, making the colors slightly yellowed. In practice this is not very noticeable, but in bright scenes you can see it if you're looking for it, and in pure white scenes it is very obvious. It can be distracting but you can get used to it. Even with this drawback, I find the glasses perfect for movies and games; it rarely impacts my experience.
- It might be difficult to get the right viewing angle and fit with the included nose pads. The lenses are small, and as mentioned the screen starts to become yellowed at the edges, so it's important to stay as close to the middle of the lenses as possible—but that may just not be possible if you have a weird head/nose shape or if your eyes are misaligned more than a few centimeters. It's clear that they included so many nose pads to try and cover as many use cases as possible, but it's still not perfect. I spent a lot of time fiddling with the fit to try and get it perfect, and ended up bending the number 1 nosepiece to suit.
- The head-mounted, static nature of the displays can cause nausea in some people, especially when moving their head while watching content. Having displays attached to your head is not something the human body is made for. Some may also feel dizziness and vertigo. VITURE released a firmware update that adds a pitch/yaw "floating window" feature built-in to the glasses, but it is not overly responsive and may start to drift with time. However, I did test this feature with someone that previously got very sick with the One's, and it did lessen said illness a good deal, so it might be enough to help some of those affected. This is more of a problem with the whole category of devices, but I thought it pertinent to address.
- You can't move or scale the picture in the glasses natively to have a true walk-and-view experience without the VITURE Neckband—basically an Android TV box strapped to your neck—which provides that feature. I hope they add this in a future firmware update to the glasses themselves, or to the mobile app when displaying a smartphone. The floating window feature that I mentioned they added is not a replacement for this.
The design is a bit wonky
They are quite small, and those with bigger heads (like me) may find the One's arms uncomfortable; they have no padding and are quite thick. They do bend outward, but the pressure is higher than with normal glasses. Additionally, the board components in the right arm get very hot under normal load; this is not usually a problem as the arms were designed to not be touching the sides of your head in normal use, and are far enough away from my head to not blast me with the heat, but if you have a fatter head or tucked ears, you might feel it. It's not bad enough to cause burns, but I could see it being very uncomfortable in the right (or rather, wrong) circumstances. At the very least, they might not be great for you if you live in a hot climate.
The glasses have electrochromatic outer lenses, meaning the shade of the lenses can be changed by applying a charge to them. This feature works well enough, but it really isn’t enough to make the see-through design of the inner lenses much more visible in natural light. It’s better, just not totally sufficient. Furthermore, some versions of the glasses have better reaction time and shift between on and off states faster than others. You can purchase black-out shades as an add-on, and while they do help greatly, I am aghast that such a simple addition was not included in the main purchase, especially when the electrochromatic lenses aren’t the most responsive. It’s just a piece of molded plastic, how much of an addition could it really be? They don’t even clip into place, and are held on by friction alone. Surely there could have been a way to incorporate them into the design too, like the electrochromatic lenses, rather than being a chintzy thing you push onto the front.
The controls are a bit wonky too
The button layout, while serviceable, is not at all self-evident, and requires some getting used to. The main “Mode” button has single tap, double tap, triple tap, and hold actions. Really should have included another button or something. This also hugely limits the accessibility of any additional functionality they might add in the future, because how are they going to bind any additional actions? Please, VITURE, a quadruple-tap is the last thing we need.
VITURE offers a mobile app (VITURE Assistant… or just VITURE App now I guess) that can be used in conjunction with the Neckband, but doesn’t really do anything else on its own besides update the firmware of the glasses. The app would have been the perfect opportunity to provide some extra features to the glasses when streaming from USB-C DisplayPort or DisplayLink, without the Neckband—though I suppose they don’t have much incentive to do that so they can sell more Neckbands. And when it comes to controlling the Neckband, all the app does is provide a virtual directional pad and touchpad—no searching for content, switching apps, casting to your phone, nothing.
Connectivity is great… until it isn’t
The glasses only support wired DisplayPort over USB-C, so you need adapters to connect to other devices. This can be an annoying, costly process depending on what outputs your devices have, and whether or not you purchased the VITURE Mobile Dock.
Really, I think USB-C and the functionality surrounding it is great, and VITURE’s choice to buy in to that ecosystem was not a bad choice… but not everything uses it yet. Well, for things that use HDMI, VITURE provided the Mobile Dock. Great. But for anything else, you need the Dock and a dongle to convert to HDMI first. And if your device doesn't have any display outputs at all—for example, some smartphones, such as the Google Pixel line—you need DisplayLink. But the Dock does not support DisplayLink, meaning you also need a DisplayLink to HDMI adapter. And if you didn't get the Dock, you need a HDMI to USB-C DisplayPort adapter, and most of those do not work well with the One, or only work with certain displays, or have other annoying problems; for example, the Goovis HDMI to USB-C adapter—made for the competing Goovis XR glasses—doesn't support sound over HDMI (so the One's speakers wont work) and it requires a power supply.
Yeah. It’s a mess.
Wireless streaming to the Dock (via Miracast, early-gen guest-mode Google Cast, even some proprietary protocol) would have solved a lot of these issues, but this feature was not included. You could in theory replace the wired adapters with a Chromecast, Fire Stick, or otherwise, and power it via the Dock, though I haven't tried this as I do not use Google/Amazon if I can help it. VITURE seems to recommend this path, so perhaps that’s why they didn’t include wireless streaming of their own. Still, for people like me that hate being stuck in the Google ecosystem, Chromecasts are a no-go, because they now require Google Home and a Google account, and the devices themselves also phone home to Google. As for the Fire Stick, I just see that as too unwieldy, in addition to the privacy concerns. I would love to find a wireless casting/streaming device that either uses the older anonymous Google Cast protocol or another solution, but I’ve yet to find a reputable manufacturer selling such devices, nor a straightforward and portable way to do it myself.
In my case with my Google Pixel phone (purchased used & running GrapheneOS, mind you), I use a USB-C to USB-A adapter, into a USB-A DisplayLink to HDMI adapter (about $80 for a good one), into a short HDMI cable, into the Mobile Dock, and finally the Dock connected to the glasses. This is absurd and I am very disappointed they didn't include DisplayLink support with the Dock or glasses—if they had, all modern Android smartphones as well as any other DisplayLink-compatible device would have been supported with a single cable.
To make matters worse, Netflix and other software with media playback DRM usually do not work over DisplayLink/third-party wireless streaming, so for example you can't use these glasses to watch on Android phones unless you have one that supports DisplayPort output to directly connect to the glasses. You could get the Neckband instead for DRM media consumption, but I really don't think that thing is worth it if you have an Android device already. Chromecast will work, but only for supported casting apps, and you still need the Dock or similar to convert to USB-C, and power the dongle.
So basically, make sure the device you're planning to use the One with either has USB-C DisplayPort output, or you have the Dock and your device has HDMI output, else you're likely going to have trouble.
The bright side: they’re still pretty good
Despite these problems, the VITURE One is still a great piece of hardware and is leagues above its competitors in the market. Perhaps that speaks to how weak the offerings in this particular product category are, with all the issues I mentioned—but it also speaks to how strong the positives of the glasses are. In fact, it they have many positives:
1. The displays are much much better than anything else you can find elsewhere, including on their closest competitor in terms of viewing quality, the XREAL (previously Nreal) Air. Really, there are other benefits over the Air, but I will not go into those here. Look into it yourself if you’re curious!
2. Side-by-side 3D (SBS 3D) works really well and feels very immersive, if you have a device that supports it. I used it with Dolphin's SBS 3D mode on Steam Deck and had a blast.
3. The speakers aren't fantastic, but they're more than acceptable given the size of the unit, and it's great to have them and not have to use earbuds or on-ear headphones. (Over-ears are not really possible due to the shape of the glasses, and it gets super hot. Not recommended.)
4. The form factor is small enough to throw in a bag, and they are quick to deploy with supported devices.
5. The build quality is good and they don't feel cheap. However, do note they are made almost entirely out of plastic. That does help keep the weight down though, so it's a double-edged sword. I think they did the best they could given the state of the market and the technology.
6. They actually save you battery life when replacing large power-hungry screens, like on the Steam Deck—even at max brightness and speaker volume.
Great partner for the wave of portable gaming handhelds
Speaking of the Steam Deck, these are the perfect companion to portable game consoles, and the primary reason I bought them. VITURE also seem to think so as the Deck and Switch is a big part of their marketing and their owners are clearly one of their target demographics. They also work great for Android, if you have a phone with DisplayPort out or are willing to heft around the bundle of adapters to get it to work. The glasses really help with neck pain from having to look down at your devices, and let you (specifically your arms!) relax comfortably if you are trying to use your devices sitting or laying down with nothing to rest them on. I also tested the USB-C adapter that lets you charge your host device while you view, and it works very nicely with my Deck. Unfortunately, it seems to not work with my DisplayLink adapter, so I can't charge my phone while using the glasses.
In closing? Eh, they’re okay.
If you have the right setup to get the most out of the One's, they're definitely worth considering, and honestly deserve a four star rating or better—even with the issues I presented. But the price is prohibitive, especially without their prerelease pricing and coupons, and I include price to value ratio as a factor in my review. If I were pressed, I would give them three out of five stars, balancing all the pros and cons with the price. VITURE bragged about challenging the market as "the next Apple" but pricing is definitely not one thing they need to be challenging them on, and they definitely do not match Apple’s excellent “high-quality product feel” as one might label it. And if you have a setup not within the One's strengths, prepare to have headaches and drown in dongles and cables—maybe so much so that they aren't worth it.
The Neckband is an option, of course—but with it being a glorified Android TV with a few extras on top, overall the whole experience feels a little lacking. It doesn’t help that for all of these self-proclaimed XR or AR glasses on the market nowadays, none of them are interoperable, and exist entirely in their own ecosystems. Until these developers come together and standardize, the market will remain fractured and stagnant, and developers will be hesitant to support multiple bespoke devices.
Still, I am excited to see where things go after the VITURE One. It is pushing the boundaries of the small wearable display market, and as someone that has been waiting for a good pair to come along, they are almost perfect for me when used in a supported configuration. But the lack of support for DisplayLink, coupled with the lack of a smaller adapter that isn't as bulky as the Dock for pocket use, and the bland software support, makes me not as thrilled about them as I would otherwise be. And with the problems it has, unless you are as enthused by the notion of wearable displays as I am, I can see this being a pass for a lot of people.