AR wearables are the big thing at CES this year, and one of the more impressive showings we’ve seen comes from the TCL-incubated RayNeo, which surprised us early on with its X2 Lite AR glasses. Mashable was able to get our hands on what TCL RayNeo is marketing as the “world’s lightest full-color augmented reality glasses.”
These AR glasses are big, but not huge
TCL RayNeo went all-in for the second generation of its AR glasses. When the company introduced the X2 at last year’s CES, the glasses were a hit for their impressive suite of features like real-time language translation and easy-to-navigate software overlayed over the real world. However, the X2 device was big, heavy, and bulky – imagine Martin Scorsese’s iconic thick black-rimmed glasses, but taken to almost parody-like extremes.
TCL RayNeo line of glasses at CES 2024.
Don’t get us wrong, compared to the cyborg-ness of Google Glass, the trend toward chunky Black-rimmed glasses is a welcome style improvement. But, if you’re going to actually wear these throughout the day, they need to be light, comfortable, and not so big that they stick out.
The RayNeo rep we spoke with told us that a lot of the feedback they’d received when showcasing the X2 came down to these issues – design and comfort.
So now, a year later with the X2 Lite, the weight has been cut down significantly. The original X2 weighed 120g, and with this new version, the weight’s been cut in half down to just around 60g. It’s a massive improvement for the glasses and the future of the AR glasses space, although the Meta Ray Ban glasses are slightly smaller at around 48g. When trying on the two models, the X2 Lite’s lighter design made a huge difference.
When it comes to style, the glasses still have the same black-rimmed look. But, interface-wise, the design has changed quite a bit. One of the odd design choices of the older X2 was having a lot of the hardware situated in the temple tips, which added an unbalanced feeling. That’s been rethought with the X2 Lite, which has shifted much of that hardware into the temples instead, thus evening out the whole look, without having to sacrifice too much in the hardcore and specs department (although these have less storage space than the X2).
On the left, Matt wears the larger RayNeo X2 model beside Chance, on the right, wearing regular non-AR prescription glasses.
Another big design change from the X2 has to do with the red recording light. Previously, on the X2, the recording light was on the side of the glasses. If a user was recording video, it wasn’t so obvious to the person being recorded. RayNeo solved these potential privacy issues by moving the recording light to the front of the glasses, right between the lenses.
Using the X2 Lite is easy
It’s easy to get a hang of how RayNeo’s X2 AR glasses work.
Along the temples of the X2 Lite is a touch bar that you can use to navigate the UI. By sliding back and forth on the bar you can go left and right in the main menu. By pressing once you can enter an application. Then from there, if you want to exit back to the menu, all you have to do is double-click. It’s decently accessible, and it’d be interesting to see how easy it’ll be to get a prescription for these.
One issue we did come across was the intuitiveness of some of those taps, particularly the double-tap. It didn’t seem to always register. Either that or we were just tapping in the wrong place at times. It seems like these gestures will take a little getting used to, since you’re wearing the glasses in order to view the menu but can’t exactly see where on the glasses you’re touching.
Altogether, though, the AR glasses are simple to use and the menu options are straightforward. Swiping a finger along the side of your glasses scrolls through the menu in a way that feels natural.
The AR menu was easy to see when wearing the glasses and stuck out without getting in the way. We also didn’t experience any issues with eye strain after wearing the glasses for a prolonged amount of time. Perhaps, most importantly for this type of product, they were comfortable to wear.
Tech, spec, features, and issues
The new RayNeo X2 Lite augmented reality are much smaller in size.
The biggest spec improvement of the X2 Lite over the X2 is the addition of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon AR1 Gen 1 platform. This allows for an almost seamless audio, video, and AI experience. The apps were fast and produced zero lag when working in real-time with translations and querying the built-in AI chatbot.
AR glasses with major AI integration
Now, many of these features that RayNeo described to us for the X2 Lite already came with the X2. This includes the AI Smart Assistant, real-time translation, and 3D-map navigation. But, the menu and apps all seemed to have a design upgrade and a more modern feel.
Speaking of the AI Smart Assistant, it’s powered by the company’s own language model. The idea is that the AI on the glasses will make the user experience less loneliness by giving wearers a companion that they can talk to. Remember, much of what makes these AR glasses useful involves going out into the real world and interacting with human beings. The AI chatbot provides utility for introverts who otherwise wouldn’t get much out of what these AR glasses provide. It’s almost like RayNeo is pushing a proto-Samantha from the movie Her.
The AI on the X2 Lite is named FeiFei and provided suggestions about the best places to eat while we were in Las Vegas for CES in a fairly natural and conversational contextual format and tone. However, at least for now, it seems a bit like a glorified Google Assistant with a name and a 3D Avatar tacked on.
The company’s proprietary AI, called RayNeo AI, is a huge part of the X2 line of AR glasses. It’s easy to use and provides good responses to some basic questions we asked. But, beware… if you’ve ever seen those videos way back when of people using Bluetooth headsets in public, you’ll look exactly like that when interacting with RayNeo’s Smart AI Assistant.
Plus, with the 3 microphones in the glasses, the X2 Lite will pick up anything that is said in the room. When we first tested the glasses, we tried to read the AI chatbot’s responses to colleagues as the chatbot is only visible to the individual wearing the glasses. The glasses immediately started inserting our voice into a new question for the chatbot, obfuscating the previous answer provided by the chatbot.
We had the same experience with the real-time translation feature as well, which led to an awkward moment during our hands-on test of the feature where we accidentally picked up a private conversation in Mandarin between the PR rep and their boss. (But we do have to say, the translations were quite accurate for the most part.) The potential use cases of this feature present a lot of promise for the hardware but for now, it’s a bit clunky to use for these reasons and much of the AR needs to be viewed at a certain angle to be seen fully.
An exciting AR proof-of-concept, but not a must-buy
Don’t get us wrong, the features are certainly cool. It was quite impressive to be able to view translated captions from a non-English speaker without breaking eye contact. Being able to follow visible augmented reality arrows to a destination when looking up directions on a map felt like you were transported right into a video game. But, the cool augmented reality aspect aside, the glasses don’t do any more than what your smartphone can already do.
Price-wise, the company would only confirm that it would be in the range of a “high-end smartphone” and that it is tentatively set for a Q3 2024 release.
RayNeo wants these glasses to be in homes across the globe as a consumer product, but it feels like the X2 Lite is still a work in progress. No, scratch that. AR glasses in general feel like they are still a work in progress. Something is still missing from the product category as a whole. RayNeo is progressing in the right direction, but it doesn’t seem to be there quite yet.