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Nreal Light review: hardware is only half the battle

Nreal’s Light sunglasses, which Verizon will start selling later this month, are one of only a few consumer-focused augmented reality headsets. They’re an impressive technical feat: small for an AR or VR product, comparatively affordable at $599, and capable of full-fledged mixed reality that projects images into real space, not just a flat heads-up overlay like the North Focals.

Unfortunately, Nreal’s software doesn’t fulfill its hardware’s promise. The Light is hampered by a bare-bones control scheme, a patchy app ecosystem, and a general user experience that ranges from undercooked to barely functional. Nreal may well have shown us the future of AR, but it seems disinterested in making the experience very pleasant.

Everybody is talking about AR glasses being the next big thing after smartphones, but to me they feel deeply dystopian and creepy – for very, very little benefit over using a smartphone. I’m sure AR glasses will be very welcome in countless professional settings, but I’m not so sure it will be embraced by general consumers in everyday life.

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