Many tech companies believe that people will wear “smart” glasses regularly in the future. It’s an open secret that Apple has been working hard on mixed reality glasses, Meta has been pumping huge amounts of VR and AR for years, and of course Google has been way ahead of its time with Google Glass. At IFA, Lenovo also contributed to the Glasses T1, although these glasses are much less ambitious compared to other glasses.
Lenovo doesn’t recall the T1 AR glasses anywhere, while technically they are. You place it on your head, a virtual image can be seen right in front of your eyes and this image is partially transparent. That should disappoint anyone who thinks that you can then walk down the street with them and see all kinds of relevant contextual information. The projected image isn’t transparent enough for that and it’s not Lenovo’s intention. The manufacturer describes it as an external monitor that you can place on your head. This makes it much simpler and cheaper than ThinkReality A3glasses previously launched by the brand for the business market that include cameras and head tracking.
The T1 is connected via the attached USB-C connector. Any device that supports video output via USB-C should work with the T1 as long as it can provide about 2W of power. For the demo, Lenovo paired each T1 with a smartphone, but also connected them to my Windows laptop and it worked right away. Windows simply sees a second display after which you can mirror or extend your desktop. That’s it right away: the glasses do not have sensors that can determine position and because they are seen as a single screen, it is not possible to control the two screens separately for a stereo image.
But why would you want to put an external monitor on your head? Lenovo mentions several usage scenarios, none of which sound very convincing to the ears. The T1 can be a good alternative to the privacy screen on your laptop, for example if you are on a train or plane and want to work on a sensitive document. Another example mentioned is checking your bank balance on your phone as you don’t want people looking over your shoulder.
We don’t see people doing it quickly, especially since the screen doesn’t fit well. Let’s start by saying that the image quality is great. Lenovo uses two micro-OLED displays with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, with a pixel density of 58ppd, or pixels per degree. A fraction of 60 per day is usually seen as the limit beyond which the human eye cannot perceive the extra sharpness. Especially when I used the T1 with the paired smartphone and moved around a bit through Android, played games and watched YouTube videos, I noticed that individual pixels weren’t visible.
However, when I plugged in my Windows laptop and started browsing, the image quality was disappointing. Maybe it has to do with how Windows displayed text, but the edges of the text were worn out, and depending on how the glasses were on my head, I also saw some color fringing on the edges. Lenovo could not provide any other details about the type of screen, but sometimes it looks like an OLED with a Pentile matrix. Whatever the reason; You don’t want to read long texts about it.
As with VR goggles, the image is somewhat blurry at the edges, although I have an idea that was less extreme with the T1. It is important that the glasses sit straight on your head and I still had some problems with that. Lenovo offers different types and sizes of nostrils, and with 114 grams, the glasses are not heavy, but they slide slowly each time, making the picture less sharp. This will of course vary from head to head, but the design with a strap around the head would have been more practical, although that takes away from the idea that the T1 looks like “normal” glasses.
How T1 finally comes out on its own is in the video. Although the viewing angle at 38 degrees isn’t great, you still get the feeling of a large screen in the air in front of you. With the beautiful colors, high brightness and high pixel density of micro-OLED screens, it’s fun to watch. The sound that comes from the legs is not to write home about, but you can quickly solve it, for example, a Bluetooth headset. So a more realistic use scenario would be for someone to use a T1 on a plane to watch a movie, or watch a series in bed at night before bed.
The fact that the screen is partially transparent doesn’t add anything, but thankfully it doesn’t detract too much either. The degree of transparency is so low that you are not constantly disturbed when people walk into the room, at most when you see something in the corner of your eye. This also raises the question of what its usefulness is; According to Lenovo, people who are prone to nausea due to these types of devices make them less likely to get sick. If you use the T1 to watch a movie in a darker room, like the bedroom, you probably won’t even notice a bit of transparency.
The T1 glasses are supposed to hit the market in early 2023 and will cost less than $500. Lenovo probably shouldn’t have to worry about not being able to keep up with demand, as the T1 screams “specialty product.” And as far as we’re concerned, there’s a niche in a niche: we don’t see production work happening, but for video and mobile games, T1 may find its target audience.
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