Elegant design keeps you in the real world.
The Avegant Glyph, which costs $699, is designed for media consumption. Looking at it is like watching a 60-inch 720p TV in your living room. The device looks a lot like an oversized Beats headphone, which makes it socially acceptable and inviting.
Have you ever been on a flight and wanted to watch a movie on your laptop or tablet, but didn’t want to share it with, or maybe bother, your seat mate? Glyph solves that problem. It does so with incredibly bright digital light projectors (DLPs), one for each eye, while at the same time allowing you to see the area you are in.
The actual display resolution is a 16:9 1280 × 720 with a 40-degree FOV, and the effect of watching it is as if there was a very large screen about three feet from you. It’s one of those things that is difficult to write about; you really have to see it for yourself to totally get it. And when you see it, you do indeed get it.
Watching movies or TV shows is one use, but there are many others including game playing, and drone flying (FPV— first-person view). Imagine having a camera-based drone and being able to see what it sees up close and personal. It’s like being a remote U.S. Air Force drone pilot, giving you a hands-free control capability (that is, you don’t have to hold the display if it’s a tablet or sit in a fixed location looking at a notebook).
You connect the viewer to a laptop, game console, or other device with a full-size HDMI cable and a USB-B cable. The USB is primarily for power. Audio and video come from the HDMI.
The device is completely adjustable physically so it will fit almost anyone’s head and eyes. You can adjust for your individual interpupillary distance (IPD). There is an individual focus control for each screen (almost no one has the same focal point in each eye), and a +1 to –7 diopter adjustment, so if you wear glasses, you can take them off to use the Glyph (unless you have a really severe astigmatism). There is also a nose height adjustment, something I particularly appreciate as most HMDs make me feel like I’m being smothered
The unit weighs only 13.3 ounces (on our scale), and there is an additional strap you put on it that goes over your head to help distribute the weight.
I watched Gravity on it (from a Bluray player), and it was breathtaking, almost the exact same feeling I had when I saw the movie in a theater. The only annoyance was I had to set the resolution on the player to 720p, which is not a big deal, just another step
When I used it with my laptop, I first tried it as an extended display, which worked but not well—I was forever looking back and forth the between the Glyph and the screen to get it set up. It works much better as a clone display, but you have to adjust the PC to a 1280 × 720 resolution setting. When used with the PC, it lost a little on the edges, which I attributed to my laziness in getting it fully adjusted correctly
I did try it with a game (Tomb Raider), and that was a less-than-satisfactory experience, mostly due to mousing around and getting lost. Unfortunately, it does not support Blu-ray DVD, but only 720p side-by-side content.
The sound quality was fine, nice bass balance; however, I would have expected a simulated 5.1 setup. The developers told me they are looking into that.
The Glyph is a comfortable, relatively easy to use device, with a broad range of utility. At $699 is is a bit expensive and so may not appeal to everyone.
The headset design is really clever, and it’s easy to see future versions for AR and/or VR, although for VR the FOV would have to be a bit wider. I can also imagine a cordless version with a Bluetooth link for the data stream.
Price and availability
The Avegant Glyph is shipping to Kickstarter investors, and it’s for sale at $699 on the company’s site. Currently, the product is only shipping to the U.S and to China.