TCL has launched a new pair of AR glasses with 120Hz OLED screens

There’s a new pair of AR smart glasses on the scene, in the form of the TCL Nxtwear S Plus specs – a follow-up to the TCL Nxtwear S, which we reviewed in the middle of last year – priced at $ 399 / £399 / AU$ 699.

Much like their predecessors, these glasses can be connected to a compatible device like a phone or console – either by a USB-C Display Port, or by using adaptors that you’ll have to pay extra for – so you can enjoy your favorite show, game, film, or app on a large virtual screen.

For 2D visuals, the OLED displays offer Full-HD resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels) on a display that’s the equivalent screen size of a 215-inch screen placed six meters from your face. For 3D pictures you’ll get a resolution of 3840 x 1080 pixels

TCL Nxtwear S Plus being used to play Mario Kart on the Nintendo Switch

(Image credit: TCL)

In terms of improvements that warrant the Plus title, these TCL specs do have a few important upgrades over the originals.

First, they now boast 600 nits of brightness, 200 more nits than the 400-nit TCL Nxtwear S, and 100 more than the 500-nit Xreal Air 2 Pro specs. This should lead to more vivid colors and better contrast in the displayed picture.

The dual displays also now have a max refresh rate of 120Hz rather than just 60Hz which should make the visuals appear much more smooth than before. We kind of wish they went up to 4K, but this is a resolution other smart specs also have yet to achieve at this price point – so our disappointment isn’t exclusive to the TCL Nxtwear S Plus.

Lastly, the new TCL Nxtwear S Plus smart glasses weigh a whole 2g less than their already lightweight predecessors, coming in at 87g instead of 89g. Based on our tests, smart glasses that weigh this little don’t feel noticeably heavier than wearing a pair of regular specs.

TCL Nxtwear S Plus being used to watch a film in a dark bedroom

(Image credit: TCL)

Some things to watch out for

We haven’t tested the TCL Nxtwear S Plus glasses yet, so our advice would be to try them, or read a few reviews, before you buy them because of two main factors: heat and adapters.

When testing the original TCL Nxtwear S smart specs we found that the bridge got uncomfortably hot within about 20 minutes. Other smart glasses like the Xreal Air 2 Pro and original Xreal Air glasses get around this issue by having the front end of the arm get warm instead – so the hot component isn’t touching your face – so it’s possible that these new TCL Nxtwear glasses won’t have the same issue as the old version. 

If the bridge still does get quite warm then you might not be able to enjoy the TCL glasses to their fullest.

The Xreal Air 2 Pro AR smart glasses next to the Xreal Beam hub, they're both on a wooden table in front of a brick wall

You might want to check out the Xreal Air 2 Pro glasses (Image credit: Future)

Adapters are also an issue for a lot of smart glasses. While they can interface with a good number of devices, you’ll need quite a few not-so-optional-add-ons to get the best experience. 

These include special cables that allow you to hook them up to more devices, and adapters that have their own internal battery, so you don’t drain the connected device’s battery as quickly. Picking up all of these extras can add to the cost, which is always a shame when you’re already spending $ 399 / £399 / AU$ 699 on the device itself.

Noise leakage can also be a problem for smart glasses with their open-ear speakers, though the TCL Nxtwear S Plus glasses have a Whisper Mode that promises to keep noise leakage from their 0.5mm stereo speakers to a minimum . We've yet to use any smart glasses that don’t have a problem with audio escaping to the people around you, even if they have their own version of Whisper Mode, but hopefully the TCL Nxtwear S Plus specs will convince us that smart glasses don’t have to be noisy.

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Finally, someone is limiting the time kids spend on screens and it’s TikTok?

Even TikTok agrees teens and tweens are spending too much time on TikTok and now, somewhat surprisingly, the popular social media platform is doing something about it.

The company announced in a blog post on Wednesday a new effort to help young people manage their time on TikTok on some of the best smartphones, though it hinges on platform members telling the truth about their age. 

Soon, TikTok will set a 60-minute usage limit for all users under 18. The prompt, though, will be more of a suggestion in that the teen will only have to enter a passcode to extend their time. For those who do so and break the 100-minute barrier (who doesn't?), TikTok will soon encourage them to set up their own screen time limit for the app.

Usage rules for those under 13 will be more strict. Once they reach the 60-minute limit, a parent or guardian will have to enter a code to restore access. There is nothing in the announcement about how TikTok is verifying the age of its users.

TikTok is pairing these new limits with a collection of screentime management tools that it's adding to its Family Pairing parental management feature. They include a screen time dashboard and the ability to mute notifications. The latter should help keep TikTok phone notifications from pulling teens back onto the platform.

The moves come just two days before the US celebrates National Unplugging Day, an unofficial gadget and social media holiday where people of all ages are encouraged to put down gadgets and screens and relearn pre-digital skills like hobbies, screen-free bedtime, and face-to-face social interaction.

Whether or not you believe in unplugging, there's no arguing with the current, startling screen time trends, especially among teens and tweens.

TikTok Screen time management tools

TikTok’s new screen time management tools (Image credit: TikTok)

A growing problem

Screentime among tweens and teens has been growing for years and all but exploded during the pandemic. Common Sense Media's 2021 survey reported a 17% spike in media use between 2019 and 2021. A more recent study put kids' daily TikTok use at 80 minutes per day. That's a lot of short videos.

Parents and maybe some overstimulated teens may welcome some screentime structure but it's also worth noting that TikTok's motives might not be entirely altruistic. The company is facing heavy scrutiny from US Government officials, many of whom are calling for an outright TikTok ban. The concern, though, has nothing to do with too much screen time and everything to do with TikTok's ties to the Chinese government.

TikTok is still owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance and many fear that the Chinese government has unfettered access to TikTok data and, therefore, all of our activities on the platform. However, TikTok has been moving all of its US data to Oracle servers based in California. The company claims that no one in the Chinese government has access to US TikTok data.

Whoever is looking at the data, there may soon be less of it to peruse if TikTok's screen time management efforts are successful.

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