XREAL just fixed one of the biggest flaws of its AR glasses with a tiny accessory

XREAL Air 2 Pro Review
(Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • XREAL announced a new accessory called the XREAL Hub that allows you to charge your source device and use supported smart glasses at the same time.
  • The XREAL Hub will work with the XREAL Air, XREAL Air 2, XREAL Air 2 Pro, and XREAL Air 2 Ultra.
  • XREAL also shared that it will host an AR games demo at the 2024 Game Developers Conference, which will run from March 18-22 in San Fransisco, California.
  • The company will also show off its glasses at the Alibaba Cloud and DeepMirror booths at the GDC Post Awards Export Party.

XREAL is one of the most exciting names in Augmented Reality (AR) at the moment. The company has a variety of smart glasses that act as portable monitors you can wear. Those glasses require a source device, such as a smartphone, but that setup results in lightweight glasses that are more comfortable for extended use. Today, XREAL announced a chance to try out its smart glasses and a new accessory that will ship later this year.

The XREAL Air, XREAL Air 2, XREAL Air 2 Pro, and XREAL Air 2 Ultra will all work with the newly announced XREAL Hub when the accessory launches later this year. XREAL hasn't shared pricing information or a shipping date at this time apart from "spring."

The XREAL Hub extends sessions by letting you charge your source device and use a supported pair of XREAL AR glasses at the same time. The company explained that support for charging a source device and using XREAL smart glasses at the same time is a highly requested feature.

XREAL Hub dongle for XREAL AR glasses

The XREAL Hub will let you charge a source device while using supported smart glasses. (Image credit: XREAL)

The design of the XREAL Hub is rather straightforward. It's basically just a dongle with two USB-C ports on one side and a single USB-C port on the end of a cable.

While the main draw of the XREAL Hub is the fact that it can be used to charge a source device while using smart glasses, it can also be used to show an external display or monitor, since the accessory supports DisplayPort.

The XREAL Hub supports up to 120Hz refresh rate for 2D content and 90Hz refresh rate for 3D content. In both of those setups, resolution maxes out at 1080p. Fast charging support allows your source device to top up quickly through an outlet or a power bank.

XREAL demo at GDC

XREAL Air 2 Pro Review

XREAL will demo its smart glasses at the 2024 Game Developer Conference. (Image credit: Windows Central)

XREAL will hold a demo for its smart glasses at the 2024 Game Developer Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, California. The event runs from March 18-22 and will give developers a chance to see XREAL's smart glasses play a variety of games, including Landing Party, Table Trenches, apparatus. People will also be able to visit the Halo AR Museum.

XREAL demos will be at the Alibaba Cloud and DeepMirror booths at GDC. The company will also have demos at the GDC Post Awards Expo Party on Wednesday, March 20.

Our Rebecca Spear, who has gone hands-on with XREAL Air 2 UItra glasses and interviewed XREAL CEO Chi Xu, covered the upcoming demo at GDC more in-depth.

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Red XREAL Air 2 glasses on Rebecca Spear.

Our Rebecca Spear with XREAL Air 2 UItra glasses recently. (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)

Normally, I'd criticize a company for making people use a dongle, but XREAL is an exception. Most importantly, the XREAL Hub is not a requirement to use XREAL's smart glasses. XREAL smart glasses are lightweight devices that connect to a source device through a USB-C cable (and in some cases a dongle or Bluetooth). The XREAL Hub enhances the XREAL experience, but it's not essential.

Additionally, wearables are a bit different when it comes to weight distribution and dongles. Arguably the most important design element of a headset or smart glasses is that you can wear them comfortably. Batteries are heavy, so shifting a battery pack outside a device is normal. Even Apple Vision Pro has an external battery pack.

XREAL smart glasses are much smaller than Apple Vision Pro or Meta Quest, which makes sense considering they're essentially a monitor you wear on your face rather than a standalone device. Adding a dongle like the XREAL Hub is a bit of extra work and adds some bulk to a setup, but I think that's a reasonable tradeoff to extend screentime.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.