AR glasses are not a gimmick anymore! Sure it’s still a niche device, but there are real benefits to using it now, plus it’s widely available to the general public now with lower prices and better and more accessible software. Whether you’re an early adopter of technology or just want to try out something new, investing in your first pair of AR glasses is an exciting experience. But there’s a lot to consider when deciding which AR headset will be best for you.
In this article, we’ll walk through why it’s a great time to get AR headsets, what benefits you can get from one, what are things to consider, and a few recommendations of AR glasses that are worth getting.
Is 2023 The Year To Get A Pair of AR Glasses?
What do I mean by that question? By getting a new piece of technology you instantly become what we call as early adopters. While it is exciting to experience the latest and greatest pieces of tech, you’ll probably also experience a lot of the first problems that rise with new pieces of tech.
This happened with AR glasses back in its very early days with Google Glass as one of the most famous examples.
Google Glass and other AR glasses failed due to a lack of clarity on what it’s for, plus a ton of half-baked marketing and release, and of course, a lot of defects and the product not working as intended.
So, to answer the question up top, yes, 2023 is a great year to finally experience AR glasses. Sure it’s still in its early years and there are still lots of stuff to improve, but it’s developed enough to deliver a good user experience for new users. Plus, if you’re a professional who needs AR, there are reliable ones to get right now, but more to that later!
Benefits of AR Glasses/Headsets
I know a lot of you are wondering why should we even get AR glasses in the first place, well, other than being cool considering it’s a thing you can only find in sci-fi before, it does bring a handful of benefits now other than entertainment.
The most notable benefit of AR headsets is their use in productivity, imagine this for a second; you are sitting in an airplane or train with little space, but you need to get some work done and let’s say you usually need multiple monitors to get your work done because you’re probably a programmer or trader. With AR headsets, you can have virtual monitors that you can connect to your laptop!
Another great benefit is training and education, I mean, it’s no secret that a lot of us will learn better through visual examples, using an AR headset to learn a skill like fixing up laptops or even cars will make learning a lot easier.
When AR headsets become more streamlined and advanced, they can also be used to replace smartphones, by then it can be a huge benefit if you know how to use it; it could be a heads-up display while you’re driving or navigating around a place you don’t know, it can be a great tool for work, especially with the reasons I listed above, of course, there’s a huge risk for addiction, but that’s a topic for another day. Let’s talk about how to consider what AR headset to get in 2023 before we get into our top recommendations.
4 Best AR Glasses/Headsets of 2023!
Before we take a look at some of the best AR headsets of 2023, I just want to note that a lot of the headsets that I’ll recommend will also double as a VR headset! That’s it, enjoy the list!
Meta Quest Pro
- Full of features and capabilities straight out of the box
- Supported by a lot of apps and devices
- Has some of the best tracking systems
- Can be used as a standalone device
- Not a native AR device
- Short battery life of 1-2 hours
- Platform: Standalone/PC
- Screen:1800×1920 per-eye
- FOV: 106°
- Tracking Method: 6DoF Inside-out tracking with eye, face, and hand tracking
- Passthrough: Full-color passthrough
Yes, I hear you! This is mainly a VR headset, but guess what? It performs really well as an AR headset, although it doesn’t do native AR, it uses cameras for its passthrough mode which has full color, unlike the passthrough on the more affordable Meta Quest 2 VR headset,
But besides that, it’s also fairly priced for what it can do especially if you compare it to the price of other AR headsets which don’t have nearly as many features as this headset. Not only that, but it’s also standalone which means you don’t really need to plug this into anything to use it, and with Meta’s software, using it is a breeze! And this is the one that’s used to show AR monitors in this famous video.
That right there is achieved by using the Meta Workspaces app which you can get on your Mac or Windows computer, and it’s by far the best virtual desktop app right now. There are several apps that you could try and usually pay for, but it’s either laggy or not as well-refined and properly integrated with everything as Meta Workspace.
The Meta Quest Pro is not the best AR headset of all time, it’s technically not even an AR headset, but for what it can do, I still deem it as the best overall here in this list. If you want something that’s sure to give you a good experience, you should get this!
- Low-entry price for a great AR experience
- High-resolution OLED screens
- Native AR!
- Doesn't have a lot of features
- Doesn't work without a tethered device
- Platform: iOS/Android/PC
- Screen:1920×1080 per-eye
- FOV: 46°
- Tracking Method: 3DoF non-positional
- Passthrough: Native passthrough
When we think about AR glasses, it probably looks and feels like the NReal Air! It’s a lightweight headset that provides a native passthrough experience, but the catch? It isn’t as advanced as the others on this list, it’s just essentially a screen with a bit of motion-tracking sensors.
While that might be a setback, it’s one of the reasons why the Nreal Air is a great AR headset for beginners. It’s simple and easy to use and the lack of all the fancy bells and whistles makes it one of the most affordable AR glasses on the market. The NReal Air is best for people who just want to experience AR without the eye-watering price of most headsets.
If you’re looking to get into augmented reality but don’t want anything too fancy, this may be your best bet, and hey, it works on most devices as long as there’s an app available and it can be tethered through a USB cable.
Microsoft HoloLens 2nd Gen
- It's reliable for professional use
- Microsoft can cater to enterprise orders
- High-resolution screen and highly capable tracking systems
- Can get super pricey (limiting it to professional use)
- Platform: Standalone/PC
- Screen:1440×936 per-eye
- FOV: 43°
- Tracking Method: 6DoF Inside-out tracking with eye and hand tracking
- Passthrough: Native passthrough
Microsoft Hololens 2nd Gen is the most powerful and capable AR headset on the market today. It has an array of sensors that allow you to interact with virtual objects in your environment, what’s best is it doesn’t need a controller! It’s also standalone and comfortable to wear for hours despite being heavy at about a pound.
So, who’s it for? If you’re an engineer, a designer of any sort, or a professional in general who needs an AR headset, if you need to train employees or show designs to clients, you name it, this is the best one for the job! Not just because of how the headset works, but the services that Microsoft offers with the HoloLens are also quite nice, there’s an economic impact estimator for you to see if you’ll save or earn money in the long run if you invest in these headsets because spoiler alert, these headsets can get quite expensive. But hey, these headsets show how AR can help businesses and individuals in the long run!
Overall, if you need something reliable for education, training, manufacturing, and a lot more, the Microsoft HoloLens is most probably for you.
Meta Quest 2
- It's the Jack of all trades of VR!
- Has a decently powerful processor and good battery life
- Good motion tracking
- Only has greyscale AR passthrough
- Platform: Standalone/PC
- Screen:1832×1920 per-eye
- FOV: 97°
- Tracking Method: 6DoF Inside-out tracking with hand tracking
- Passthrough: Greyscale passthrough
Let’s end this list with the Meta Quest 2, it’s a great all-around VR headset, now I know this is a list of the best AR headsets that you can get, but I just can’t help adding this one! I dubbed this VR headset as the best overall since it does everything pretty well; it’s a capable standalone device, it has a pretty beefy battery life, and it does all that at a pretty low and affordable price.
The Meta Quest 2 has one problem though; it doesn’t have a colored passthrough, although it still does have a black and white passthrough, which is enough for most people wanting to try AR, and if all fails, you’d still be left with this great VR headset.
Overall, I’d recommend the Meta Quest 2 for people who just want to explore VR and AR at a low price while also getting a ton of features, it’s a no-brainer buy if you compare the Meta Quest 2 a feature-packed headset to the NReal Air an AR headset at around the same price but has little to no features.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do AR Glasses do?AR glasses, also known as augmented reality glasses, are wearable devices that overlay digital information and images onto the real world, allowing users to interact with both the physical and digital worlds simultaneously. Or in quick terms, displaying hologram-like images!
What can AR glasses be used for?AR glasses can be used for anything from gaming, education, healthcare, manufacturing, training, and viewing 3D designs in the real world! It also has its uses in retail and navigation.