After pushing augmented reality (AR) glasses to businesses for years, Lenovo will finally sell AR glasses for consumers, the company announced today – and I briefly got to demo the lightweight Lenovo T1 glasses. With their Micro OLED displays and required connection to Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS devices, they bring notable functionality to a space that has garnered industry-wide interest, but is still far from becoming ubiquitous. .
The first version of the T1 I tried had limited functionality; Most of the time, I could only see a home page with basic menu options and a desktop with icons for apps, like web browsing. Although the glasses weren’t ready for me to watch a movie or jump through apps, I was impressed with the clarity of the text and menu items. It was in a sunny room with extremely tall windows. Even in bright sunlight, the few colors on display looked vibrant and the text legible.
Lenovo specifies displays with 10,000:1 contrast and 1920×1080 pixels per eye. The glasses are also TÜV certified for low blue light and flicker reduction, according to Lenovo. It takes a lot longer to explore and challenge Micro OLED screens before making a final judgement. But the combination of smaller pixels and, from what I’ve seen so far, strong colors should suit screens so close to the eyes. More generally, brightness can be an issue with OLED technologies, but the little demo I saw performed well in a sunny room.
I’ve used the Glasses T1 while connected to an Android smartphone via its USB-C cable, but they’re also supposed to work with PCs, macOS devices and, via a separately sold adapter, iPhones.
The user interface visible on the glasses depends on the connected platform. During my demo, I controlled input via a five-way touchpad, home button, and menu button on the connected smartphone’s touchscreen. I didn’t have a lot of time with the glasses, but it was clear that I would need a lot more time for the movements to feel natural. I often had to look at the phone to know where I was on the screen.
The temple edges of the glasses use a flexible rubber-like material to adapt to different head shapes. Lenovo’s specs fit my face shape perfectly without weighing it down or fiddling with nose clip options. However, the left arm, where the cable exits, never sat perfectly around my ear. As they are, I wouldn’t want to move around aggressively wearing them or wearing them for many hours.
Without a processor or battery, it’s easier for the glasses to stay fitted. There are also no sensors or cameras like the Lenovo ThinkReality A3, announced last year. Other features of the T1 include a pair of speakers (one near each temple) and the ability to add corrective lenses.
Lenovo is building the T1 to be less powerful (and more affordable) than the A3, which supports up to five virtual monitors. But with less hardware, they should feel lighter on the face than the 0.3-pound A3 glasses. However, it remains to be seen how full or immersive AR experience Lenovo will be able to deliver with the T1, which also includes a sub-60Hz refresh rate and 38-degree field of view.
Lenovo says its portable display will appeal to gaming or streaming video content on the go. He also pointed out that the head-mounted display was more private for displaying things like bank statements, documents or other sensitive information in public than a phone or laptop.
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