With the attention given to foldable phones and smartwatches, you’d almost think that smart glasses were dead. After all, most companies have either backed out of that niche market or targeted their products at equally niche customers, like Google Glass 2 for the Enterprise. As one of the world’s leading display manufacturers, however, TCL just wouldn’t let that status quo remain. At MWC 2021, TCL is unveiling the NXTWEAR G, a pair of smart glasses designed for consumers but not designed for walking around.
Unlike Google Glass, the NXTWEAR G look more like sunglasses than spectacles, their “lenses” fully occluding the wearer’s view. That’s because, unlike such AR headsets and eyewear, the TCL NXTWEAR G is described as a more straightforward display. In fact, unlike VR headsets even, the glasses have no form of motion sensing or input controls other than those of your phone or computer.
For all intents and purposes, the TCL NXTWEAR G is pretty much like a monitor for your actual device, allowing you to be immersed in a movie or work in peace. The latter is made possible by what TCL boasts is the glasses’ “open fit” design. This means that you can look down to see what your hands are doing, like typing, or you can look up to see a flight attendant hovering over you. You still can’t see what’s in front of you, of course, so it’s still best to use it only when sitting down or standing still.
Using the NXTWEAR G is actually as simple as plugging in the USB-C cable to a compatible device, a set that includes more than a hundred smartphones and laptops. Depending on the device and the software, you either get a simple mirrored image of the desktop or phone screen or, in the case of some TCL phones, a desktop version of Android ala Samsung DeX. It’s a simple plug-and-play system, TCL promise, and hopefully not the plug-and-pray that older computer users joke about a lot back in the days.
The NXTWEAR G’s design reflects its simpler functionality. It looks nondescript, save for the cord that will be hanging from it, and the eyepieces hide the dual 1080p Micro OLED panels. TCL says it used OLED instead of the usual LCDs employed for VR headsets because it was targeting video watching rather than gaming. Soft-touch nylon and silica gel surround the frame of the glasses for comfortably wearing the glasses through movie night and stereo speakers positioned between the temple and the ear promise immersive audio even without headphones.
Unlike other smart glasses, TCL will be making the NXTWEAR G immediately available to consumers when it launches next month. Australia will be the first market it serves, but availability details, especially the price, have yet to be announced.