I’ve been trying to create a gaming experience with XR glasses for years, before there was even such a thing. As a chronically ill person (hello to my sick gamers), I spend a lot of my game time in bed and I’m always looking for ways to make it more comfortable. When I was a teenager, I had glasses with two sets of mirrors in them so that when I looked straight ahead, they reflected down towards my feet. This allowed me to lay on my back and see my Nintendo DS in my lap. I no longer hold my hands above my head until I lose my grip or nod off and the DS falls in my face. I recently attached a gooseneck mount to my nightstand that I can bend 90 degrees to hold the switch directly above my face.
Both solutions have limitations. Mirrored glasses limit your field of vision and require you and the thing you’re looking at to remain perfectly still and parallel. The gooseneck mount is difficult to get quite right and needs to be locked in place. Also, I tend to hit him in my sleep, but that could be my problem. What I really needed were XR glasses like the Viture One XR, a device that didn’t really exist until this year, but I’ve been waiting for all my life. After spending a week playing Tears of the Kingdom, streaming movies, and using my Steam Deck with the One XR glasses, I may never go back to traditional handheld gaming.
XR glasses made a big splash at CES this year with brands like NReal, TCL and Lenovo showcasing their tech, but the One XR frames from Viture impressed me the most with their selection of accessories that are entirely designed for gaming games. The company sent over two pairs for testing, along with a mobile dock, a Switch attachment, a Steam Deck attachment, some lens hoods, and a 1-to-2 adapter. Some of these are nice to have, and I’ll be touching each of them. But for the Switch, you really only need the glasses and the mobile dock – and for other devices, you don’t even need the dock.
The glasses have the same shape and feel as sunglasses, but slightly heavier and thicker. On the back of the right arm is a port that connects to a magnetic cable with USB-C on the other end. Any device that has a USB-C video output can connect to the glasses. I’ve plugged them directly into my Samsung Tab S7, Steam Deck, and Surface Duo, and I can use them right away without any software or updates, just like plugging those devices into a monitor. The glasses do not have an internal battery and do not need to be charged, as they draw all the energy from the device to which they are connected.
The viewing experience is impressive. When you put the glasses on, you immediately see a bright and sharp screen without any of the screen-door distortion you’d see with a VR headset. The image is incredibly clear and even small text is easy to read if you adjust the built-in diopter to suit your vision. My astigmatism is a little too severe in my left eye to get a perfectly clear picture, so I still wear contacts when I use glasses, but Viture offers prescription lens frames.
The bezels also have built-in speakers powered by Harman. I’ve reviewed Bose and Razer connected sunglasses, and the sound quality in the One XR is better than both. It has minimal sound leakage, about as much as a noisy pair of earplugs, so if someone is sleeping next to you, they might be able to hear it. But on a plane or a bus, I don’t think anyone would notice or be bothered by the sound. You can still use the Bluetooth headphones while wearing your glasses if you want, but I was pleasantly surprised at how good the sound quality was even compared to my wireless earbuds.
I have some issues with the way the viewing experience is presented in the marketing. Viture (and other brands with similar products) like to use images that suggest you’re looking at a giant projected screen in front of you, but that’s not my experience. It’s more like holding a small screen right in front of your eyes – which it is, after all. You still get the floating screen effect because the image is transparent, meaning you can see the world through the screen. The One XR has a cool lens dimming feature that can drop the background into darkness with the push of a button, and you can also snap on the lens shades if you want to block out the background entirely. Still, the glasses aren’t headphones and have limited coverage on your face, so unless you’re in a dark room, you’re going to get a lot of light leakage at your periphery. It took some getting used to, but now I reach for my glasses every time I play my Switch.
You have to use the mobile dock when playing on the Switch, but the dock has some advantages. This is a 13,000 mAH power bank that provides six additional hours of playtime. It also has two glasses ports, so my partner and I played a lot of split-screen Mario Kart, each with our own pair of glasses. It’s much better than two-player gameplay on the Switch’s tiny screen, and both can control their own audio levels. There’s also an HDMI port so you can plug in a PC, PlayStation or Xbox as well. There’s also a Docking Bracket for the Switch and Steam Deck, which is just a small piece of plastic that allows you to attach the Docking Bracket to your console for easier portability.
This is the mobile screen solution I’ve been waiting for my whole life. It’s an incredibly convenient way to get a high-quality visual experience from your mobile devices, and it’s a great way to play handheld games wherever you are – whether you’re bedridden or on a long flight. I have very few gripes with them, but I do wish they could plug directly into the Switch without having to use a mobile dock, and I wish the screen filled more of the lens area. I’d also prefer them to be completely wireless rather than have a cable running from my glasses to the PDA – which has drawn more than a few strange looks at the airport – but I suspect that’s still a few years away. At $439 (or $568 with the dock), the price will be the biggest put-off for people, but that’s nothing new for innovative technology like this.
Devices like this are going to be huge for gaming and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nintendo and Sony enter the fray with their own versions in the next few years. I’m glad Viture is setting the bar so high with the One XR, and I don’t think I’ll ever play my Switch without them again.
Next: Steam Deck is costing me so much money