Avegant's Glyph video headset will start shipping next month

Yes, it looks like a pair of headphones over my eyes.
Nicole Lee
N. Lee|12.15.15

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Avegant's Glyph video headset will start shipping next month

Nearly two years after Avegant first launched its Glyph video headset on Kickstarter in January 2014, and it's finally ready to go into mass production. Today, the company announced that it's about to start manufacturing the first batch of its VISOR lookalike, with an initial order of 10,000 devices to start shipping early next month. Avegant CEO Joerg Tewes tells me that over 3,000 units will be sent to Kickstarter backers first -- custom engraved Founder's Edition versions at that -- and the rest will go toward website pre-orders, with more to come. I had a chance to try out an almost-final version of the Glyph and it's clear that, at long last, it's ready for public consumption.

Gallery: Avegant Glyph hands-on | 6 Photos


As was highlighted in our hands-on earlier this year, the Glyph is really more of a personal theater headset than something for virtual reality. The field of view is fairly small -- about 45 degrees or so -- and is similar to that of watching a 65-inch TV in your living room or a large screen in a movie theater. There's also plenty of peripheral vision above and below the display, so you're able to take a look at your popcorn at the same time you're watching a show. It's really not meant to be a full immersive experience like you would find on a Gear VR or an Oculus Rift.

Yet, the resolution and quality of the images is fantastic. Rather than relying on a screen or an LCD, the Glyph works by projecting the images directly to your eyeballs using 2 million micromirrors, resulting in a crisp and clear image. You can use it to watch 3D movies too, and even 360-degree videos thanks to a partnership with Jaunt. "The experience that we're replicating is the on-the-go theater experience," says Edward Tang, Avegant's Chief Systems Officer. "It's not VR. Instead, it feels like you're in a movie theater." Tang and Tewes says that Avegant's target audience is the frequent traveler, who wants more than just a tiny phone screen to watch movies. You use it by plugging it into any HDMI-ready device, which can be a phone, a tablet or a laptop.

Avegant has improved things quite a bit since our demo in March. Aside from improved optics, there are now different-sized nose pieces that you can swap in and out for better comfort. You also needn't worry if you wear prescriptive eyewear, as the Glyph's optics can be rotated and focused to match each eye. The optics also now retract flat all the way down so you can easily flip 'em up and wear the Glyph as a pair of high-end headphones. Speaking of the latter, Tang tells me that the company has been working with Harman Kardon to supply its audio drivers. There'll also be a nice cushion pad that'll magnetically snap into place to both protect the optics and offer a more comfortable fit.

Additionally, Tang says the battery life of the headset is now around four to five hours, which should be enough to cover a cross-country flight. If you'd rather use it as a regular pair of headphones instead, then battery life isn't an issue as audio can run passively through. In my brief few minutes with the Glyph, it also feels lighter and less cumbersome than previous iterations, and it didn't take me too long to adjust the lenses to my preferences.

The downside to the whole affair is that it's a pretty pricey thing. If you weren't fortunate enough to get in on the pre-order price of $599, the list price of the Glyph is a hefty $699. For the same amount of money, you could probably get the Samsung Gear VR and a Galaxy S6, which offers a VR headset on top of the usual entertainment offerings. That said, the Glyph is more focused on providing a premium mobile video and audio experience above all else, which could be worth the money if you plan on being on a plane for long periods of time.

If you want to try one for yourself, you can buy one from the company's newly launched online store. Or if you prefer, you can wait until March, when it'll be available from Amazon.

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