Like many i was very excited and intrigued when i first set eyes on the DreamGlass Air, the new project being funded on the very unpredictable crowd funding site Kickstarter. We are promised affordable Augmented Reality (AR) where we can play games, watch movies, use AR applications and more, right in our homes or on the go.
The company behind the campaign, DreamWorld aren’t new to this type of technology and was founded in 2016 and delivered their 1st generation of AR headsets in 2018. The CEO of the company Kevin Zhong didn’t rest for long before coming up with the current idea. Kevin has been motivated throughout this current campaign to bring to the consumer, a technology that would normally cost thousands of pounds from other manufacturers such as Microsoft with HoloLens, for a mere fraction of the cost, while still giving them the technological spec that will blow them away.
The DreamGlasses come in two variations the standard DreamGlass Air and the upgraded DreamGlass Pro which offers 6DOF. The Air model could be backed for US$289 if you nabbed the early bird, saving you US$200 off the MSRP US$489. The Pro would cost you substantially more at US$899, saving US$600 from the MSRP US$1499. Now this might sound like a lot of money to pledge for a product which in theory, actually did not fully exist, as it was still in concept and went through many changes, and as so many kickstarter campaigns fail, leaving the backers with absolutely nothing to show but bruised egos. But if you consider the price of Hololens by Microsoft, which at the time of writing this review, would cost you a huge £3,349 in the UK, the reasonably low price of roughly £225 (depending on currency conversion) for the Air glasses, is a very enticing proposition for backing them.
So what do we get for out pledge and what exactly do they do, and more importantly do they offer what was promised from DreamWorld and meet the expectations of its many thousands of backers? Read on to find out…………!!
Upon receiving the Air glasses (i will refer to them as AG throughout the rest of the article/review) you are greeted to a fairly basic box with a picture of the AG on the front. Whilst you can see what is in the box, i do feel that a lot more thought could have gone into the design of the box. It could have shown photos of what you can use them with, particularly as DreamWorld’s main selling IP was using it with game consoles such as the Switch, and watching movies on Netflix in the privacy of your own huge screen. It could also have shown a breakdown of specs, and whats included in the box. But no they have gone with a simple picture of the AG and nothing else, as though the packaging was an after thought. Things don’t get any better when you open the box, as the only protection you get are two small white foam blocks in two of the corners, to prevent slipping. This does not at first glance, exhibit or promote a quality item, take note DreamWorld first impressions are important, even for a Kickstarter campaign!!
However once the box is open, i was impressed with the quality of the protective case. Very sturdy and with a nice rubbery texture to it. Upon opening the case your presented with the AG themselves and the included accessories.
My first thought was ‘wow that is a very snug fit’ and it just looks a little cramped for everything that is in the case, and remember some of the additional Kickstarter unlocks, have yet to be shipped, such as the HDMI cable, so once you put those in the case you really are going to be left with little space, which worries me about protection against future damage of the reflective lens, especially if anything should be pressed against them when the case is zipped shut.
Talking of extras a lot of backers, myself included are still waiting for the additional unlocks such as the Type C to HDMI cable, an additional head strap, additional blackout lens as well as other accessories they had purchased. DreamWorld have promised that these will be sent to backers at a later date, but the logistics of that will be a nightmare to sort and i can see some people missing out on some of the unlocks and accessories.
So inside my case i found the AG unit itself, 1x micro usb charging cable, 1x reflective lens, 1x polarized lens, 2x front head cushions, 1x head strap, 1x mini PC and 1x microfibre cloth. Like many others i was disappointed to find that the HDMI cable, additional head strap and black out lens were all missing. Having emailed logistics, i was told to contact customer support, whom for some reason don’t respond to your emails when contacting them. I appreciate and understand that under the current circumstances with COVID and with multiple delays to deliver the AG, it must be difficult to keep on top of all the emails and rants that some backers are having, but this should not be detrimental to all those backers who had faith in this project and helped bring it to fruition.
Any accessories and unlocks should have been shipped with the AG and not left until a later date. This will result in backers not receiving the extras and becoming frustrated with the company, which does not bode well with any future projects, which i will get into later.
When i first saw and held the AG, my initial opinion was that they looked pretty cool and were of a good build quality. Even though the majority of the materials used are plastic, they don’t feel like a toy which for something in this price range is a good thing. I do have some concerns regarding how robust they would be if dropped accidentally, and would imagine they may break quite easily, so make sure not to drop them folks!!
My main issue with them being made from this nice gloss, sleek black plastic is they are an absolute dust magnet, and that is no exaggeration. From taking them out of the box, they attracted dust and finger prints straight away. I know its not a big issue, but i like to look after my tech and gadgets and pride myself if i ever come to sell them on, the new buyer will be receiving the product in the same condition i bought it in. Also because the AG involve optics, you are constantly cleaning the reflective lens and the mini screens that project the image, as even the smallest amount of dust or dirt with be magnified massively, causing problems with the image quality.
It would have been nice if the AG had been made from more of a Matt black and textured surface, which would have alleviated this issue to some degree, maybe that is something for them to take forward with any future products?
Another thing i was a little disappointed with was the forehead support cushion. This allows the AG to rest comfortably against the forehead in order to help keep the AG in place and for comfort. But the cushion for me was not padded enough, resulting in a sore forehead after short periods of time. This is definitely something which needs to be improved on for future products, as comfort is one of the most important aspects when using a product of this type. Don’t get me wrong, once you adjust the support strap and get the AG in place properly, they are not massively uncomfortable to wear, however this will be dependent on the size and shape of people’s heads, and i think some would struggle to watch a full movie without having to take a break, to release some pressure on their heads, i know i did!!
Moving onto the reflective lens and the blackout shield. Once again they are dust and fingerprint magnets. I can’t really stress this enough, the silver optic reflective lens needs to be totally pristine when using the AG, if not they will show up massively on your virtual screen and will distract you from the overall image quality and display. Also very worryingly, they appear to attract scratches very easily when using the included micro fibre cleaning cloth, particularly the blackout shield. I am very careful when cleaning anything with optics of any type (i have owned in the past the Sony PSVR and currently the Oculus Quest) and have never scratched a single lens, however already i have a number of surface scratches on the blackout lens which you can see below, and thats only after having cleaned the lens maybe 5 times. It wouldn’t be too bad had the additional blackout lens been included in the package as promised in the first unlock goal, but it hasn’t. My silver lens also arrived with a scratch on it, out of the box as you can also see below, which i am still no further forward with customer service in being sorted.
Ok so to the product itself and how does it work? First off i must stress that these AG were not provided to me by DreamWorld, and i am a normal backer like everyone else, using my own hard earned cash to purchase these for my own enjoyment. As such my views and experience with the AG, are totally my own and i have not been influenced by anyone else when completing this review……. I just wanted to get that out of the way for those Kickstarter backers who like to start conspiracy theories!!
I have used the AG in a number of different ways in order to try and cover most of their uses. Unfortunately i do not own an android phone, and so my experiences were with an Iphone and iPad Pro when it came to casting. Also i must point out to readers that with the AG you are not buying a set of VR glasses, like the Sony PSVR or Oculus etc. These are augmented reality glass, not virtual reality!! I am not going to go into the differences between them, you can use google for that yourself but its important for people to understand the differences between the two, as i do think some of the video’s which DreamWorld are using to promote the AG have been slightly misleading for those who do not understand the differences between AR and VR.
Looking at movie streaming first, which i would imagine will be the main function for many. The AG allows you to either cast movies, pictures etc from you’re phone, tablet etc the logistics of this will vary depending on what you are trying to cast from, at the time of writing this review many backers complained that they were struggling to cast from some Android phones, such as Samsung. Dreamworld have provided a number of alternative casting apps for people to try, and the main issue appears to be with Samsung phones, as they only like you to cast to their own products such as Samsung TV’s.
When using the AG you have to connect them to the mini PC which is pictured below. This is the brains of the product and contains all of the software and runs on Android, meaning there are a plethora of apps which you can use, just jump into the included Aptoid TV app and you can download Netflix, Prime Video etc as well as other casting apps to use with Android phones. And yes you can also download the Kodi app, allowing you to watch even more content.
Unfortunately if you try and screen mirror or cast certain apps from you phone to the AG, you will be met with a home screen reboot or a black void, with only sound. This is because of copyright and certain companies like Prime video, will not allow casting to another device, which is why you should download the apps straight onto the AG, using an external pendrive if you run out of space on the included 16GB internal memory.
My first impressions of casting was good, i tried it with both my Iphone & iPad Pro and the screen mirroring worked straight away, i was able to see my home screen on a large display in front of me. The screen was originally meant to be 100 inches in size with a 90 degree field of view, but due to an upgrade in optics, this was increased to 200 inches. The screen was clear, and there was no lag at all between skipping my pages. In fact i was very surprised by this as i had read multiple reports of lag issues, but so far so good when it comes to screen mirroring. However, i was unable to cast Prime Videos, and only got sound and my Netflix would work for about 5 seconds before it too would go off.
For me this is not a big issue as i had already downloaded those apps onto the mini PC and they both worked well. Most of my time was spent with Netflix, and as you can see below, picture quality was very good (though they may look slightly out of focus in the pictures due to difficulties with the narrow window to record the image from). In fact other than the edges of the FOV being slightly blurred, i was very impressed with image quality. I remember someone stating on Kickstarter that they found the image worse than that of the Sony PSVR. I could not disagree more about this. The image quality was not even comparable to the PSVR with its mesh, blurred effect screen.
I really can not complain too much about the image quality that i have observed, and before i move on 3D is images and the effect it gives is also very impressive, however there are some issues which i could not work out, and why they were happening. These issues could be the reason why different people are having such a mixed experience with AG, as i have read of many complaining about poor picture quality.
First of all the AG were apparently upgraded from 2.5K to full 4K picture quality. And the upcoming DreamGlass 4K glasses which are currently on Indiegogo at the time of writing this review are also being advertised as full 4K UHD. However in my testing the AG are not producing a full 4K image, as promised by the creators. You can see the image below, taken from my Xbox console, which shows the maximum video output at 1080p.
In my opinion this is quite misleading and very disappointing, especially as full 4K was promised as an upgrade for all backers. When looking further into this discrepancy i can see that DreamWorld have listed the spec as being 1920*1080 per eye, and then adding this up for both eyes, does give the impression that you are getting a full 4K experience. Other companies have done the same thing in the past, but believe me for those who are used to having a full 4K image in front of them, will notice this is not a full 4K headset. Whilst the image quality for me was still very good and acceptable, for others this will not bode well and i can see many complaining about this. I will be interested in seeing how the specs of the companies next model the DreamGlass 4K, will go as they too are advertised as being full 4K UHD. To me and to many other backers, would expect both eyes to be 4K, not 1080p.
This leads me to my next issue. When watching certain content i found some movies to be juddering, especially when using Kodi. However other movies worked fine. I’m not sure why this was, and even when playing some 4K content on the glasses, whilst image quality was good, frame rate was poor and judders. I don’t know if this was down to the glasses or Kodi itself, not adjusting frame rate. But when it worked it did work very well, with excellent image quality, and only a small amount of blurriness towards the edges of the screen, as you can see in the videos below (image may appear slightly blurred due to recording in a narrow field).
My other issue when watching anything, especially for extended periods of time, was the ridge going down the centre of the silver reflective optic lens. I was conscious that it was always there, and this impacted on my viewing enjoyment dramatically. As i was trying to focus more on the image itself in order to block out the ridge, it caused me to have eye strain and a headache after about 25 minutes of use. I really do not understand why the silver optics could not have been cut into one piece, removing the centre ridge and the cut out for the ridge of the nose. The lens does not sit on the ridge of the nose to start with, and it would have been better and less distracting if that cut out was not there, as well as the lens being made slightly longer and wider, as currently it makes it difficult to see the very edge of the screens, again becoming very distracting when trying to comfortably view content.
Another issue is with the image quality itself, don’t get me wrong these have one of the images i have seen, and that goes for my Oculus Quest too. But something is just not quite right. I will show you in some of the images below, taken from a game. I thought it was just my eyes, but a friend confirmed it wasn’t. For some reason the image on the right is clearer than the image on the left. Put them together and you don’t really notice an issue, but it’s definitely there, and may be a reason why so many backers are reporting poor image quality. Yes there is definitely a sweet spot that you have to have the glasses at on your head, and the pupil diopter needs more settings as the current settings are not flexible enough for varying pupil distances. But the image on the left side is not as sharp as the one on the right, and this is going to impact on the overall experience. I would be very interested in hearing from DreamWorld about this, as if it is an issue on mine, it will undoubtably be the same on others, and is a major flaw at present which needs to be looked into, especially for any future products if using similar moulds etc.
So with regards to watching movies, even though there are some issues, i am still pleasantly surprised by image quality and if DreamWord can resolve those issues i have pointed out with future products, then we really do have the future of a dedicated personal home cinema in front of us.
However, one huge issue for watching movies which have not mentioned yet is sound quality. When watching movies you want to be surrounded with clear, crisp, base sound as without that any content will fall flat. And i’m afraid to say it, but thats what happens here with the AG. The sound is absolutely horrid without using headphones. In fact i don’t even understand the rational behind using such terrible built-in speakers. Whoever came up with the decision on which speaker system they would use, really needs reprimanded.
They offer the worst quality sound i have ever heard from a product, and completely makes the AG feel cheap. If anything is taken away from this review by DreamWorld, it’s never cut corners on important aspects of a product. Audio and video go together, and if one is not as good as the other, then you have a substandard product, especially a product of this type which depends on that immersion.
Yes you can use headphones, which i did and they sounded ok, but i should still have that choice of not needing to use them if i don’t want to….. however in this case, i have no other option as the speakers are so poor.
Another issue which people have brought up and quite concerned about is the amount of heat the AG give off after some use. Some have stated that theres have automatically shut down because of this. Whilst mine have yet to shut down by themselves, i can also confirm that the AG do become hot to the touch after about 25 minutes of use. I measured mine and they were hitting 37.8 degrees celsius. Which to me is a bit on the hot side, after such a short period of use. I believe the new model on Indiegogo with have a active cooling system, which the AG do not.
I think this was a bit of an oversight on DreamWorlds behalf and they should have used the same cooling system on these too, it’s understandable people are worried about them overheating. And if they are shutting themselves off, then again this needs to be addressed as the product is useless otherwise. With regards to battery time its reported they can be used after a full charge for between 4-5 hours. I’m not sure this will be possible when playing games or watching movies, as after 25 mins use i found that i had gone down to 3 lights from 4. This would make it very difficult to watch even a full 2 hour movie. And i’m afraid to say thats all i could get out of the battery, a meagre 2 hours of use, before i had to plug it into the mains. This concerned me even more because of the overheating issue.
I think DreamWorld need to spend a bit more time in this area to see what can be done or offered on future products, as this amount of time is not ideal, especially if using it away from home, where you may not have access to mains power.
Now for gaming, and as an eager gamer and have been so, for many many years, this was the main reason for backing AG. I own a Switch, Xbox one and PS4 Pro and wanted to be able to play mainly my Switch when away from home camping. The idea that i can have a 200 inch screen while sat in my mobile home, playing my favorite Switch games is what sold it for me.
However after reading a lot of complaints regarding latency lag when playing games my heart sunk into a terrible black void. But i have not had one issue with lag whatsoever, either on my Switch or on my Xbox One as you will see in the videos below. In fact both consoles looked amazing on the AG, and i can not believe how good the picture quality is on them.
I really can not answer or have no idea why some are experiencing too much latency lag when playing video games, mine worked absolutely flawlessly and this is a huge relief for me as a gamer. DreamWorld have stated that they will be doing a OTA software update soon, which may hopefully help others with gaming issues. The update will also include a virtual keyboard as at the moment you have to use bluetooth keyboard or plug in a mouse for typing.
I appreciate that this had been a huge read for many and apologies for the length of the article and review, but i wanted to try and cover as much as i could, as i’m fully aware that different stories had been going around on the Kickstarter project page, regarding how poor the AG are.
To finish off the review, and i will still update it if DreamWorld contact me with any future updates etc. I have to leave my final thoughts on this product. Whilst DreamWorld still have some way to go with this product, and hopefully they will continue to make updates available to AG in the future, what they do have is the future of personal home cinema. It’s not perfect no, they need to sort out the overheating issue, casting issues, image quality in places (particularly the left and right image discrepancies), change the design of the optic lens, improve the terrible sound quality, improve battery life, and for future products make it native 4K not 1080p per eye.
Sort these issues out and we could be seeing one of the best products of this type for the consumer in years, and at a very affordable price. There is stiff competition in this area and although DreamWorld are more aimed at the AR community, you still have the likes of the Cinera Edge by Cinera, which is currently looking for funding on Kickstarter, offering a 5K home cinema experience, whilst i have no current details on that project, it may be hot on the heels of DreamWorld. The thing is when the AG works properly its a marvel to see, it really is but it needs to maintain that marvel in everything it does. But like most Kickstarter projects, the ones which aren’t scams, will still always have teething issues, remember you are not buying from a shop a consumer product. You are buying into persons dream to bring something new and innovative to the market, and you are following that journey and helping it take shape into something that can be brought to the masses.
I can’t say DreamWorld have fully followed through on their promise to the backers at the moment, but they are most certainly half way there. Just don’t forget your backers and your promise, keep them updated on whats happening, continue to deliver updates to resolve some of the technical issues, and make sure the additional add-ons etc which backers have yet to receive are delivered.
I’m quite excited about what’s to come in the future………..!!
UPDATE: I have had a few Kickstarter backers ask about latency lag whilst connected to a PC. Unfortunately i am not a PC gamer, and was unable to test this function with games. However i have tried connecting the AG to my work laptop, via HDMI and tried typing and moving the cursor. I can confirm that i also experienced a very slight amount of latency. However as i was not gaming, this did not impact on what i was doing as it was very slight. However i would imagine for gaming it would cause some issues, especially with FPS. I must stress though, that with my Switch and Xbox, i experienced no issues.
Please feel free to comment at the bottom of the review and please don’t forget to share and follow my website for future updates and reviews. Thank you for reading and i hope you enjoyed!!
Anyone interested in the upcoming DreamGlass 4K can find it at the link below, as well as anyone wanting to order the DreamGlass air. This review site is completely funded by myself and most of the products reviewed have been purchased by myself. If you would like to make a small donation to help towards funding for future reviews, please use my Paypal address email@example.com and once again thank you for reading and following.
Another review by Jean-luc Castellani can be found here in French, thank you Jean-luc: https://www.jbmm.fr/2020/07/premieres-impressions-sur-la-dreamglass-air_JBMM
To celebrate the review of the DG Air, i am giving 1 lucky person the chance to win a digital camera. Follow the below link to the competition site to win: