One of the most interesting products that have passed through our hands are the TCL NXTWEAR S. We first saw them at MWC Barcelona last February and now they’re in our hands to test them up close. At the moment they are not available for purchase in Greece (although the German Amazon offers them for around €500, but without the possibility of shipping to Greece), but at some point they will come. But what are the TCL NXTWEAR S?

It’s basically a pair of glasses that acts as a portable, personal display while having simplistic AR functionality. They incorporate a small OLED screen for each eye, which are placed so close to the eyes, that they actually offer an image corresponding to a screen with a diagonal of more than 100”, with a resolution of 1080p at 60Hz. It is one of the first products of its kind on the market, in a category which we believe will experience strong growth in the years to come.

They use a USB Type-C (USB 3) connection to get an image signal, which means they are compatible with any device that provides such an output, such as laptops, smartphones and consoles. Think something like PSVR2’s Cinematic Mode but in a pair of goggles (reminiscent of sunglasses), which works with a lot more products.

But let’s start all over again. The packaging contains inside the glasses themselves, a pair of dark lenses that magnetically attach to the outside of the glasses, a magnetic base to support the vision correction lenses (in the packaging there are has a pair, probably for presbyopia) which is placed inside side, and the Type-C cable. The glasses don’t have a battery, but run on power via the Type-C port, weighing more than any pair of prescription glasses or sunglasses. At first glance, the glasses look like something straight out of a sci-fi movie. Thick frame and even thicker temples, which have enough opening tolerance for the glasses to fit even larger heads.

The speakers are built into the arms, which actually sound pretty good, with the left arm having a volume control. At maximum volume, those around you are likely to hear the sounds being played, but at any setting below the waistline this is unlikely to happen, whereas we will hear very loud and clear. On the right arm we also have a brightness slider for the 2 small screens that integrate the TCL NXTWEAR S, one for each of our eyes. The only complaint with the brightness setting is that at the minimum setting the brightness is very low, but the next step is to provide plenty of brightness, which can be tiring in low ambient light conditions.

The maximum brightness is quite satisfactory, but to use the glasses outdoors it is necessary to place the additional pair of glasses (sun type) which magnetically attaches to the outside. Although they are not completely dark and we still see the surrounding area (albeit dimly), they help to better see what is playing on the screens of the TCL NXTWEAR S.

But how is the experience offered by the glasses? The truth is that living with them left us with the best impressions. We’ve used them to watch Netflix/Prime/Disney+ on mobile and also play games on SteamDeck and really, really enjoyed it more than that. Lying in bed and watching Citadel on Amazon Prime on a 130-inch screen, with the sound reaching your ears without the need for headphones, it’s an experience like no other.

Loading games onto the Steam Deck and enjoying them again at 130″, without being limited by the console’s 7″ screen, is pure pleasure. Especially when you don’t have to hold the Steam Deck up to your eyes. Same PS5 games we’ve tried, but a bit differently. And that’s because the glasses cannot be connected to devices that only have an HDMI/Display Port output.

Even on the Nintendo Switch, they don’t work because the Nintendo console does not directly support image output from the USB Type-C port that the dock (or a Type-C hub) has and has need. There is, however, a way to use them on devices with HDMI output by getting a special HDMI to Type-C cable, but we didn’t have one available to test. On the Playstation 5 again, the USB Type-C it has does not work as an image output for devices other than the PSVR2. Even so, we were able to play PS5 games on the glasses with Chiaki streaming via Steam Deck and also on mobile using PS Play. The smartphone we used was a Huawei Mate 50 Pro while we also tested the new Huawei P60 Pro as well as the Huawei Matepad 11 tablet. All have a USB 3.0 port and support image output. The Xiaomi 11 Ultra and Xiaomi 13 Pro that we also own are unfortunately not supported as they have a USB 2.0 port which does not support image output. Most phones are like this, but quite a few flagships (almost all Samsungs and also the Vivo X80/X90 Pro) have and can “play” with the bezels. If you have such a phone or tablet or a laptop with image output via USB Type-C, you can use the TCL NXTWEAR S as a second (or even first) screen, mainly for content consumption. Even to work in a Windows environment they could be used, but the fact that the image is always in front of our eyes, even when we shake our heads (unlike VR headsets which are), can make many dizzy.
Although the image is excellent, the peripheral vision of the user is still in contact with the surrounding area mainly from the bottom of the glasses (when we have the blackout lenses), which makes it difficult to concentrate on what we see on the screens. On the other hand, it allows us to wear the glasses and move around in space without any problem.

Our “complaints” are twofold. The part of the frame that rests on the user’s nose gets hot and the heat becomes noticeable after a while, so we have to move the glasses a bit further so they don’t touch us. Also, the cable they use is magnetically attached (on the outer side of the right arm), so several times with the goggles on your head and making a sudden movement, contact was lost, resulting in the momentary “cut” of the image. .

Overall, the TCL NXTWEAR S left us with a great impression. Sure it’s a product for the few right now but it’s awesome technology that will only get better with time and we’re sure in a few years it will be something we’ll be using all.

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