nreal Air Glasses Guide (AR)

← Back to Main Steam Deck Guide
Last Update: 11/29/2022

Video: nreal Air AR Glasses – Steam Deck Accessory +ACTUAL Game Play!
nreal Air AR Glasses

I’ve had a few people ask in some of my Steam Deck video comments if I would check out the nreal Air AR Glasses with the Steam Deck (or that I should try them). I hesitated for a week or so. At the time of this writing, they are $379 USD which is nearly the price of the 64GB Steam Deck. That was honestly outside of my monthly budget. But, if I’m going to stay relevant with the latest tech, it was an investment I decided to make. I’m glad I did.

I ordered a pair from Amazon. Originally, it had shown a ship date in a few weeks. Oddly enough, it arrived in a few days in a box that didn’t identify what the item was. I realized from my Amazon account that it arrived and took to the workbench to check it out.

The packaging was nice, I like the purple accent on the box. I first tried it with my Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. You can check if your phone is compatible with the nreal Air here. The initial experience there was ok. After downloading some of their sample apps. only a few of them would run on my phone. I could navigate the web, play YouTube, etc. and for that it was a fun experience.

It wasn’t until I plugged the nreal Air glasses into the Steam Deck that I realized this is a very cool device! It operates much like you would expect, after you plug it in it projects what you would normally see on the Steam Deck display to a virtual 130″ display while wearing the glasses. It doesn’t lock to a specific location in space, wall, etc. when used with the Steam Deck. It’s right there in front of you, when your head moves the display moves with you. However, for a better Desktop experience, being able to lock the display location while in Desktop Mode on the Steam Deck would be fantastic. Hopefully there will be an official application for the Steam Deck soon, I suspect it will happen as it’s clearly a target audience.

In the sections below we’ll cover more details about the nreal Air glasses. I will summarize by stating, I think this is a pretty awesome device. The price is a bit high, there are improvements that can be made and I’m not here to sell you on the product. Just to provide information so you can determine if it’s worth your time and money. Read on, my friend!

-Jon

How-To link to a specific section on this page: go to the Table of Contents (below) and click a section to reference. Copy the URL from the address-bar of your browser and paste in your video description/post/blog. This will direct a viewer to a specific section in any of the guides you find here.


Why Consider the nreal Air Glasses?

Below are some reasons why I personally think you might consider picking up a pair. Keep in mind, I paid for these at full-price (were not sent for review) and I always do my best to be honest about my reasoning. Let’s start with they Why’s first.

Why To Consider

  • You travel frequently or like to play games/watch movies in bed – If you travel frequently with your Steam Deck (or compatible device), having a portable 201″/130″ display in front of you at any time is pretty darn cool. It’s also great for playing/streaming games/movies in bed. The speakers in the glasses do a decent job of compartmentalizing the audio. Though, your significant other might find them slightly distracting.
  • You geek-out on the latest Tech – Let’s face it, the coolness factor is a big deal for wearable tech and this pushes a lot of buttons. While it’s not what I would consider the ultimate in coolness, it ranks pretty high.
  • Looking for a gift for a Steam Deck fan – If you’re looking for an impressive gift for a Steam Deck fan, this is one accessory they’re likely to use frequently and enjoy.
  • They are small and lightweight – The nreal Air glasses are small and light-weight at only 83 grams. You can easily carry them in your backpack/case and have a large-screen monitor wherever you go.
  • You own a compatible Android Phone – If you own a compatible Android Phone (see here), then you’ll be able to experience more features such as AR Space, not only Air Casting (used by the Steam Deck, Switch and other compatible devices).

Why Not to Consider

  • Cost – these glasses aren’t cheap, ~$380 USD. Priced at nearly that of the 64GB Steam Deck, it can be a hard-sell. While they work decently well on the Steam Deck, the integration with the Steam Deck has a bit to be desired. It works fine if all you want is a virtual 130″ monitor anywhere, but it’s up to you to decide if the price is right. The display is in a fixed-position above your nose and currently no ability to “lock” it in a certain position in space.
  • Device Incompatibility – If you’re an Android phone owner, check the compatibility list here to see if your intended phone is compatible. If you’re an iPhone owner, you can use it for screen(Air)-casting, however, you’ll have to purchase an adapter to make it work. This adds additional cost. Also, the official nreal Air Adapter requires charging with a rather limited usage-time of ~3 hours per charge. However, you can still use a computer and browser to update the firmware, should you want to use these glasses exclusively with another device (Steam Deck, Switch, etc.)
  • Some nebula Add-on applications just don’t work (for me) – There are several that are available and a few (Maze, PupPup, etc.) just refuse to work on my Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G phone. While those apps. may work for others, my phone is on the compatibility list, but haven’t had much luck with some of them (even with DEX Mode off and HDMI set to mirroring). If I find a solution, I’ll of course, update this statement.

Where to Buy?

  • nreal Air Glasses [Amazon] – Amazon is likely the best and perhaps the only place to pickup a pair of nreal Air glasses in the US. It’s where I purchased my pair and should you need to return them, Amazon makes this process easy enough. I won’t be returning mine.

Prescription Lenses

If you wear prescription lenses, below are a few links where you can order lenses for you nreal air glasses:

  • Nreal Air Myopia Lenses Custom Degree [AliExpress] – Please read the description on this page. You will need to provide a copy of a valid prescription from your doctor’s office.
  • Lensology – It seems a lot of people are very happy with ordering from here. They are located in the UK and appear to do excellent work.

Free Newspaper Clip Art Pictures - Clipartix

News Updates

Here we’ll check out any news updates from nreal. As more news is identified, it will be added below.

  • 2022-11-18 – Nebula for Mac with M chips released, check out the thread here for details.
  • 2022-11-16 – Below are some updates from this nreal thread on reddit.
    • Is there going to be a Nebula application for iOS? A: No. The lightning port is insufficient for the AR Space. Also, the iPhone has a lot of restrictions on hardware manufacturers.
    • When will 3D SBS be available? A: It is our top priority, and we are actively working on it. There is currently no ETA.
    • Is Nebula for Windows even possible? A: There aren’t any current plans in place. We’ll take this need very seriously, though.

Resources

Below are various resources that may be helpful in learning more about the nreal Air AR glasses:

  • Where to find an nreal Air [ Amazon ] – There may be other retailers, but I picked my set up from Amazon.
  • Check Phone compatibility with Nreal Air – If you plan to use the Nreal Air with your cellphone, definitely check the compatibility list first!
  • nreal Air Website – Not too fond of their site, but here it is. Just keep scrolling down for things to happen -Argh!
  • nreal Sub Reddit – A great place to discuss and ask questions about the nreal Air AR glasses.
  • nreal Assistant – The official technical support for your nreal AR glasses.
  • Initial post announcing this guide – This very important thread that helped determine some of the content you see here. Many thinks to those that responded with what they would like to see added.
  • WTT nreal Wiki – The kind folks at nreal have allowed me to create a WTT wiki on their subreddit. Much of what’s there will bring you back here. In the future may be adding some exclusive content there.

Accessories & Adapters

I have a few additional accessories on order, as they arrive I’ll add them below and provide more details on how well they work.

  • gofanco HDMI 2.0 to USB C Converter – This device should allow air-casting to any HDMI 2.0 compliant device to your nreal Air glasses. I have one on order, once it arrives I’ll document it on this guide in more detail.
  • nreal Air Adapter for iPhone/Switch – I don’t personally own nor use an Apple iPhone, however if you plan to use the nreal glasses with an Apple product this adapter will be needed. Keep in mind, this device will provide primarily air-casting capability from your apple device.

Q&A

Here you’ll find various questions and answers that may be helpful.

  • What’s the battery life on the nreal Air? There is no internal battery, the power is supplied by the connected device (i.e. the Steam Deck, phone, PC, etc.)
  • Will these work with a PC, Cellphone or other devices? It depends, if the device supports USB-C DP Output. If so, they should work as an external monitor for the device. For a more complete compatibility list, please see here.
  • What’s the resolution of the glasses? 3840x1080p. When used for Air Casting, it projects a 130″ 1920x1080p virtual display (i.e. when used with the Steam Deck, Switch, other devices in Air Casting mode).
  • What is Augmented Reality? Augmented reality is when virtual objects (i.e. a screen/display, characters, etc.) are overlaid on top of real-world imagery. At least, that’s my definition of it.
  • Are these Virtual Reality Glasses? No, they aren’t. Virtual Reality devices (such as the Meta/Oculus Quest 2), consume your entire environment that you see through the lenses and manipulate the virtual world in more than 3 degrees of freedom. Augmented reality allows you to see your surroundings, but augments (or changes) your perception of objects within the environment, to some degree. In this case, projecting a large virtual display from the Steam Deck. Giving you the perception that you’re seeing a large-screen TV in front of you.
  • Why would anyone pay this much for a pair of glasses? It’s definitely not for everyone. See the Why / Why not to section for more on this.
  • Will these work with XBox or Playstation? There was an update that was pushed in early Nov. 2022 that should now make it possible. I don’t own the latest-gen XBox or PS devices and therefore can’t confirm on those machines (Please comment in the video above if you have and confirm they work well).
  • What’s the audio like? The audio is ok, not great. You won’t hear deep bass or a super-immersive audio experience. Acceptable is how I would rank it. However, you could connect Bluetooth earphones instead and use them if you prefer.
  • I use reading glasses, will these work? Everyone’s eyes will be different. If you use prescription glasses, there is an included set of frames that may be fitted with prescription lenses. I need to wear reading glasses for some things close-up, when wearing these glasses I don’t need those reading glasses. Again, your results may vary.
  • Can these glasses be used to record video? The nreal Air glasses do not have a camera and therefore can’t record the augmented images (virtual and real-life images combined). There is an internal recorder within the nebula app. which will record up to 30 seconds of what you see on-screen but not your surroundings.

Features

  • Display – 3840×1080 pixels with sRGB 108% color gamut, 8-bit depth for 16.773 million colors • Up to 400 nits perceived brightness • 100,000:1 contrast ratio • ~46 degree FoV, 49 pixels per degree (PPD) • 130″ at 4m (Air Casting Mode / used by Steam Deck), 201″ at 6m (MR Space Mode) • Fingerprint resistant coating, anti-reflective coating
  • Audio – 2 open-ear speakers
  • Tracking – 3DoF (degree of freedom) head tracking while using a compatible phone (not yet available in SteamOS or devices not listed as compatible)
  • Controls & Sensors – Screen on/off button • Screen brightness adjustment button • Accelerometer • gyroscope • magnetometer •
    Proximity sensor
  • Included Accessories – Detachable cable • Prescription-lens frame •
    3 nose pads • Case • Cleaning cloth • Lens cover plate • Nose piece removal tool (small round pad)

Nebula Application

If you own a compatible Android phone (see here), you’ll want to download the nebula application from the Google Play Store. This application is useful for the following reasons:

  • Air Casting – provides the ability to cast your phone screen to your nreal air glasses. Air Casting is available from the Glasses tab.
  • AR Space – this is your portal to AR (Augmented Reality) used by the nreal air glasses. You can use this for many different functions, such as: watching YouTube, shopping on Amazon, Browsing the Internet, downloading 3rd-Party AR Games and Applications and much more. AR Space is available from the Glasses tab.
AR Space and Air Casting options
  • Firmware Updates – when new firmware updates are available for your glasses, you can easily use nebula to update it to the latest. See here for more on firmware updates.

Air Casting

In Air Casting mode, your screen will be projected into the glasses. You will still use your phone touch-screen for navigating applications. Basically, what you would typically see on your phone display is visible within the nreal Air glasses.


AR Space

Phone Grid

AR Space is your portal to augmented reality using the nreal glasses. There are a number of applications available, as well as the ability to add 3rd-party AR applications.

Navigation

  • Navigating AR – Upon launching the AR Space portal, your phone will then begin to act as a virtual mouse pointer. That is, you can move your phone and a pointer will appear allowing you to select/navigate the AR world. You can click/select by tapping on the grid area of the phone display. When you click in a text entry field (such as a browser address bar), a text window will appear on your phone to allow you to type what you’re looking for.
  • Scrolling view / Windows – In some areas, simply moving your head left-right will show different areas of the portal. You can also swipe left or right on the grid to scroll side-to-side. While in an application, such as Chrome, you can scroll up/down the page by pressing on the grid and moving up or down.
  • Hide Display – If you want to hide the display, tap the home button and again to display it again.
  • Reposition the AR View – Tap the Home button on your phone. Move your head to the desired position, then press the Home button again.

Additional Options

If you tap the down arrow from the phone grid display, it will reveal some additional options, such as:

  • Calibration – Select this if you need to re-calibrate your phone with the glasses.
  • Head Tracking / Body Tracking – With Body tracking enabled, as you turn your head within the portal, different sections of the portal will become visible. With Head tracking, the portal will move with your head.
  • Screen mirroring – this option will take you to Air Casting.
  • Capture – this option will take a screenshot of the visible area in the glasses.
  • Record Screen – will allow recording a brief 30 second video of whatever appears on the nreal glasses, excluding the background view (there is no camera built-in to record what you’re seeing outside of the glasses).
  • AR Scan – Not positive, but I think this is for scanning a QR code that is visible within the glasses.
  • Scan – Allows scanning a QR code from the phone camera.

Mine (Settings)

After launching the Nebula application, the first time you use it you’ll be prompted to either login or create an account. After doing so, you’ll see a tab in the lower-right called Mine. Tapping the icon will take you to the settings where you can manage the following:

  • Account Center – Log in/out of your account.
  • Privacy Settings – Review application Permissions, Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.
  • Settings – Various configuration settings such as when to Auto-Sleep, Language selection, Default Startup Mode (AR Space or Air Casting), Enable Left-Hand Mode selection, enable/disable Push Notifications, allow Data Collection and Stabilize Head Follow Mode.
  • Help & SupportFAQ, Firmware forced upgrade, Report an Issue or Contact us.
  • About – Identifies the version of the nebula application installed, allows for Checking for Updates and provides a list of Compatible Devices.
  • Laboratory Features – Allows you to try out new functionality that is currently in development.

AR Applications

There are a number of AR applications that are included once you enter the AR Space portal. Below are a few important applications to make note of:

  • Google Chrome – Here you can access most any websites on the internet. When you click on the address bar, a small window will appear on your phone where you can type in the website address (URL) that you want to browse to. In the upper-right, you’ll see an option for Desktop Display Mode. Selecting this option will provide a more desktop-like environment. However, keep in mind some DRM-related sites may not work or work properly (i.e. NetFlix). In those cases, you can instead use Air Casting after launching the associated phone application.
  • YouTube – Launching the YouTube application will allow you to easily view all your favorite videos, don’t forget to visit Wagner’s TechTalk every now and then.
  • Additional 3rd-Party Apps. and Games – there are additional 3rd-Party apps. and games that you can use while in AR Space. A few that I recommend trying: Cycling, Magician Mastery (from Play Store), Digital Pet (tap on him several times for him to pop-out in AR) and more.

*NOTE: On the bottom of a screen, you’ll find a setting of Free Mode and Surrounding Mode. Free Mode allows you to position your screen wherever you want. Surrounding Mode gives you 3 side-by-side screens that you can place wherever you want.


Nose Pad Removal

In this section, we’ll briefly discuss how to remove the nose pad. This will be useful if the one included just doesn’t fit comfortably on your face.

WARNING: It’s very easy to mis-place the Nose pad separator tool. It is a small rounded square object that is typically placed between one of the arms and the glasses when you open it. Don’t do what I did and lose it.

Step 1: Remove the nose pad

VideoSee how

Take the nose pad separator tool and slide it in between the top of the metal nose pad frame and the glasses. When you push in, the nose pad should release.

Use the Nose pad separator between the nose pad and the glasses to pop it out of place

Step 2: Insert Replacement Nose Pad

If needed, gently pull down to remove the current nose pad. To insert a different pad, take one of the (3) included Nose Pads (Small, Med & Large) and push it up into the frame in the same orientation shown below.

Insert one of the (3) nose pads you want to try

Step 3: Final Adjustments

You can make additional adjustments such as slightly bending the nose pad as well as moving the two over-the-ear support arms up/down in 3 different positions (you’ll hear a clicking sound). Warning: don’t apply too much pressure or you could damage the glasses.


Firmware Update

Latest firmware: v3.2.1 (2551)

VideoSee how

One of the first things you’ll want to do is update the firmware in the glasses. This will provide the best experience. Below are some basic instructions for updating the firmware in the glasses.

nebula app. on Android

Update via Android Phone

  • First make sure your phone is compatible with the nreal Air AR glasses here. If so, please continue.
  • Download and install the latest Nebula application from your phone’s AppStore [ Android ].
    • If you are using a compatible Samsung phone and want to try AR Space, you may want to disable DEX mode (here’s how).
  • Connect your nreal glasses to your phone.
  • Launch the nebula application on your phone (it should auto-launch when connected).
  • Select the Mine icon in the lower-right.
  • Tap the About option.
  • Tap the Check for Updates option.
  • If your glasses are at the latest version, you’ll see a toast notification stating Currently in the latest version. If not, the update will begin. WARNING: Do NOT disconnect the cable between the phone and glasses during the firmware update.

Update from Computer Browser

I recommend updating the nreal Air glasses from your cellphone, if there is no compatible application for your phone, you can also update the firmware using a browser from the nreal website here. Simply follow their instructions on the page to update the firmware.


Samsung DEX

Don’t get me wrong, DEX is very cool. However, If you plan to use the Nebula application with AR Space, you’ll want to disable DEX Mode on your Samsung phone. Below is how to do that:

  • Swipe from the top of your phone screen downward, then again to expand all the icons.
  • Swipe right-left (2nd page), you’ll see Dex. Make sure it is turned off (grey icon).
  • Swipe from the top of your phone screen downward, this time select the cog wheel (gear) for the Settings in the upper-right.
  • Click the Search (magnifying glass icon) and type HDMI.
  • Tap on HDMI Mode.
  • Again tap on HDMI Mode and make sure Screen mirroring is checked.

Use with Steam Deck

VideoSee how

Pac-Man CE DX+ being played on the nreal Air

Using the nreal Air with the Steam Deck is very easy. Use the included cable and connect the angled end of the (USB-C) cable to the nreal Air, the other to the Steam Deck (also, USB-C). As soon as you do, the Steam Deck will treat the device as an external monitor in both Gaming and Desktop mode. It will project the Steam Deck display into the lenses of the nreal Air simulating a 130″ HD display at 1920x1080p / 60Hz. At this point, you can simply load up your games and play! Using the nreal Air with the Steam Deck is without a doubt my most common use-case for these glasses. It’s pretty awesome!

nreal Glasses and Emulation

Sumer Mario Bros. (emulated) installed via EmuDeck

I enjoy playing retro games on my Steam Deck via EmuDeck. When I first began testing various emulators (NES, MAME, etc.) with the nreal glasses, the first thing I noticed was some massive slow-down and audio distortion while playing those games (but would play fine from within Desktop Mode). Since then, a firmware update has been released which corrects these issues. If you have not already, I recommend updating the firmware for the nreal AR glasses. If you experience any low framerates or audio distortion while playing your emulated games, check that you’re running the latest firmware. It should make a world of difference, it did for me.


Use with SteamOS Desktop

The nreal Air glasses work well within not only gaming mode, but Desktop Mode as well using what’s called Air Casting. If you’re not sure how to enter Desktop Mode, see here. Once in Desktop Mode, you can launch the System Settings (or from the taskbar icon) and select Display Configuration. When the glasses are connected to the USB-C port on the top of the Steam Deck, you’ll see nreal air appear in the monitor arrangement section.

According to SteamOS, the nreal air glasses will project a display resolution of 1920×1080 (16:9) at a 60Hz refresh rate. While you can extend the nreal air display, just as you can with any monitor, it may make sense to set the nreal as your primary monitor when connected (checkbox for Primary).

Since the image is projected in front of you at all times, whenever you look at another display, for example the Steam Deck display, you’ll have the nreal image overlaid on top of the one you’re looking at. For that reason, when using the nreal air glasses in Desktop Mode, it would be best to keep it as the only display you’re actively using.

Quick Points

  • Office Applications Look great – I tried LibreOffice Writer (Word Processor) and Calc (spreadsheet), the image looks great. I could easily read the text, even though I typically need reading glasses up-close, for me, they were totally not needed.
  • Setting to a brighter color theme – A brightly colored theme will likely display office applications better than darker themes.
nreal air glasses connected while in SteamOS (Desktop Mode)

Use under Windows 11

You can install Windows on your Steam Deck, in this guide, it steps you through the process of installing Windows 10/11 to a microSD card. Thus allowing you to easily switch between SteamOS and Windows. Please see the Q&A Section of the guide for some of the most common questions that you may have.

Once Windows 11 has been installed and booted, the nreal air glasses will work for Air-Casting, just as they do in SteamOS. When you right-click on the Desktop and select Display Settings you’ll see the nreal glasses appear as a monitor. Instead of mirroring the display, you may prefer to extend the display and may want to set the nreal glasses to Make this my main display (checkbox). This will allow you to utilize the full 1920x1080p resolution while wearing the glasses.

nreal air glasses connected while in Windows 11

Adding Streaming Apps

This will be provided in a separate guide. I was going to add it here and have most of it documented. After thinking more about it, it’s not specific to the nreal Air glasses. Once I complete that guide, I will add a link to it here.


Related Guides

Below are some additional guides that may be useful to you for use with the nreal Glasses.

Run Windows from microSD

SeeRun Windows from microSD Guide

Guide: Run Windows from microSD Guide

You can install Windows 10/11 to a microSD with full driver support easily using this guide. It will step you through creating a Windows ISO file, Creating the Windows MicroSD image, copying/installing the drivers, tips and more.


Troubleshooting

  • I’m seeing performance/audio issues while playing games using EmuDeck. How can I fix this? I did too, initially. The solution was to update the firmware in the glasses. Here’s how to do that.

Change Log

  • 2022-11-20 – Minor edits.
  • 2022-11-19 – Updated the Resources section to include a link to Lensology based on feedback.
  • 2022-11-18 – Added News Updates section.
  • 2022-11-15 – Added Related Guides section.
  • 2022-11-14 – Guide and video is now public.
  • 2022-10-14 – 2022-11-13 – Continuation.
  • 2022-10-13 – Start to this guide.