The Avegant Glyph is a personal display that uses mirrors and lenses to give you a completely private viewing experience. You wear it on your head and plug it into any HDMI-enabled device. A Blu-ray player, your Xbox One or PlayStation 4, your PC, or even your smartphone if you have an adaptor for the plug – pretty much anything that outputs video can connect to the Glyph. Think of it as virtual TV screen that only you can watch. This makes for a great Christmas gift this holiday season.
The Glyph perches on your head, a retro-futuristic cross between a VR headset and a pair of fancy over-the-ear headphones. Wearing it makes you look a lot like Star Trek’s Geordi La Forge, but it doesn’t blot out the world. You can easily, comfortably see above or below the visor, but the lens structure keeps outside glare from washing over what you’re viewing, so you get great images every time.
There are certain things the Avegant Glyph gets very right, and one of them is the display. Unlike VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, the Glyph doesn’t actually have a screen. Instead, it has a series of LED lights that reflect off of millions of microscopic mirrors in the visor band, out through the lenses and into your eyes. It’s similar to how we see light in the real world: The sun shines light that reflects off of objects before entering our eyes. Just as looking at a sunlit object is much more comfortable than looking at the sun itself, looking at the Glyph’s reflected display is far easier on the eyes than looking at an LED display inches from your face.
In practice, the Glyph’s virtual screen is gorgeous. Without any of the screen door effect so common to VR headsets, it renders a crisp rectangular image that hovers in space in front of you. Some reviews compare it to a 65-inch screen in your living room, but it’s much more akin to a 20-inch widescreen monitor on your desk. That’s still pretty impressive, considering the device is hugging your eyes and no one else can see it but you. And since it outputs a separate image to each eye, you can watch 3D video as easily as 2D movies.
The visuals are beautiful and the audio is rich and weighty, but there are a few issues with the Glyph’s design you should be aware of before you buy. First, it’s rather heavy. VR headsets try to balance the weight of big optics with straps that hug the back of your head, but the Glyph mostly holds on through friction and sideways force. The ear cups very strongly grip your head, with a tightness that can be comforting but may also give you a headache if you’re prone to that sort of thing. The visor rests on the bridge of your nose using one of four included nose clips.
There’s tons to love about what Avegant has made. The display technology alone is utterly brilliant and vastly superior to anything you can get in a VR headset – if with a more constricted field of view. If weight and pressure on your head tends to give you headaches, it might be worth looking for a different toy this Christmas. But if you regularly use big headphones and want a great, private TV screen to go with them, the Avegant Glyph is an absolute blast.