The Xreal Air 2 Ultra is billed as an affordable Vision Pro and Quest 3 alternative, but we have doubts

Just as Apple has officially confirmed that its Vision Pro headset will go on sale in February, Xreal has announced a spatial computing rival that’s way more affordable. Its new Xreal Air 2 Ultra AR glasses will come out in March, and will cost $ 699 (around £550 / AU$ 1,050), which is significantly less than the $ 3,499 Apple gadget (around £2,755 / AU$ 5,225).

The Xreal Air 2 Ultra launch happened at CES 2024, the massive annual tech expo in Las Vegas. The glasses are a follow-up to the AR smart specs we’ve tried in our Xreal Air review and Xreal Air 2 Pro review, with both delivering solid visuals in a comfortable-to-wear and sleek form factor. If you ask us, the Xreal Airs are the best version of this kind of smart glasses.

The new Ultra model looks set to take things up a notch with the addition of cameras – the first time Xreal has incorporated them into its Air specs. These will allow spatial computing apps to identify real-world objects that virtual elements can interact with, and will also enable hand-tracking. 

Xreal has also highlighted that its specs can let you enjoy immersive 3D spatial video, just as you'll be able to on the Vision Pro – which in our experience is the most mind-blowing Vision Pro feature. To view your own recordings on the Air 2 Ultra you'll need an iPhone 15 Pro and a third-party video conversion app to turn your file into the right format; the process sounds nearly identical to the way you watch spatial video on a Meta Quest 3.

The Xreal Air 2 Ultra floating on a red background with

Are they truly an Ultra XR gadget at an affordable price? (Image credit: Xreal)

One issue we’ve previously had with the Air glasses is that they lack the ability to interact with virtual elements – they’re effectively just wearable screens. So, with the introduction of cameras, the Air 2 Ultra glasses could finally feel like true AR glasses.

Unfortunately, there’s a big catch.

Familiar faults remain

While the Xreal Air 2 Ultra is billed as an affordable alternative to the Vision Pro or Meta Quest 3, the comparison isn’t exactly accurate, as the Xreal Air 2 Ultra is not a standalone product. Much as with the other Xreal Air products, you’ll need to hook them up to a compatible gadget with a USB-C display port (meaning it can output video and audio through USB-C).

That's just for screen mirroring though. If you want a bona fide spatial computer there are just three compatible devices listed on the official store page right now: the Samsung Galaxy S22, the Samsung Galaxy S23, and a “custom computing unit” that Xreal says is on the way. The list is slightly longer if you include the other phones in Samsung’s S22 and S23 lines – the Ultra and Plus models – but still, if you have any other smartphone it looks like you’ll have to buy a new handset to get the most out of these specs. 

As such, while the glasses and Samsung phone combo would still be a whole lot cheaper than the Apple Vision Pro – costing you not much more than $ 1,000 / $ 1,100 if you can find a Galaxy S22 on sale, for example with this $ 369.99 Galaxy S22 deal at Target – they don’t look like an affordable alternative to the $ 499.99 / £479.99 / AU$ 799.99 Meta Quest 3.

Girl wearing Meta Quest 3 headset interacting with a jungle playset

The Meta Quest 3 will probably still be the best affordable XR gadget (Image credit: Meta)

Maybe the “custom computing unit” will offer a cheaper alternative to a whole smartphone – it won’t need features like cameras after all – but the Xreal system will still cost more than a Meta headset, and it won't be as easy to use as a Quest given all those required add-ons.

What’s more, currently it’s not clear if Xreal will come close to matching the quality and range of dedicated XR software found in the Quest library (XR being a catchall for VR, AR, and MR). So you might have cool gear, but not all that much to look at or play on it.

We’ll have to try the Xreal Air 2 Ultra glasses for ourselves to get a proper sense of their capabilities. But, much as with the base Xreal Air 2, while the Ultra model is a clear leap forward it looks like it'll be let down by familiar faults.

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra isn’t a TikTok machine and I’m a little disappointed

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is not ready to be my TikTok creation platform.

That’s right, I TikTok. Don’t look at me like that. There are lots of middle-aged people lip-synching, dancing, showing off hacks, and demonstrating oddball skills on the wildly popular social media platform.

My channel is not filled with dances or songs. It’s mostly a hodgepodge of conversations with myself, visual tricks, tech stuff, and a lot of me experiencing the latest trending filter. Lately, I’ve been using a lot of filters, which rely on augmented reality to transform my face into animals, movie characters, optical illusions. They’re harmless fun.

While I can find filters that do work, some of the newest, coolest and maybe most sophisticated ones do not work on Samsung’s premier smartphone.

TikTok fail screens

TikTok filter fail screens on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (Image credit: Future)

This came as something of a surprise to me. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is an excellent and powerful Android 12 phone. It has a great collection of powerful cameras, including two 10 MP telephotos, 108MP wide and 12Mp ultrawide on the back, and a 40MP camera on the front.

It’s that last camera that I rely on for TikTok work. It’s more than capable of shooting standard TikTok videos. However, every time I try to use a new, trending filter like Raindrop control (which lets you freeze raindrops by using hand motions), or SYMMETRY (which lets you see what you’d look like if both sides of your face were exactly the same – for me the answer was Voldemort), the app informs me, “This effect doesn’t work with this device.”

Even simple filters like the “Your Decade,” which guesses your birth decade theoretically based on how you look (though I think it may be random), don’t work.

Listen, I like to spend a portion of each evening losing myself in the TikTok stream. It’s mind-numbing, entertaining, and kind of relaxing. When I see a fun filter, I like to try it out. I don’t always post the often-embarrassing results, and my draft folder is filled with unpublished efforts.

There’s real joy in consuming TikTok video on the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s high-definition 6.8-inch AMOLED, 120Hz-capable display, which only intensifies the frustration when I can’t test drive a new filter.

But why?

From a technical perspective, this, at least on the surface, makes little sense. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra’s 40MP front-facing camera is capable of some light AR work. There’s literally an AR Zone in the Camera app that lets me doodle in AR on my face, turn my whole head into an AR emoji, and do other AR-based tricks.

There are, when it comes to the front camera, limitations. In the AR Doodle, it will only support face doodles. Plus, even though the phone can plop a dinosaur head emoji on my body that can follow my head's movement and some facial expressions, it’s not that precise.

AR options in Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

AR options in Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (Image credit: Future)

If I were to compare what’s possible with Apple’s TrueDepth Module on the front of its iPhone 13 line with what the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra’s single front-facing camera is capable of, I’d call the Samsung effort a 1.0 version.

Ever since Apple introduced that depth-sensing module, its front-facing camera’s AR capabilities have grown substantially. When the iPhone 13 Pro paints my face with Mardi Gras makeup, the effect is realistic and disturbing. As I’m sure you know the camera is fully capable of supporting all of TikTok’s latest filters and effects.

Need some answers

I’ve contacted Samsung for more details on why the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra doesn’t support all these filters and will update this post with the company’s response. Perhaps they’ll tell me it’s just a matter of a software update, but I doubt it. That lone camera can only do so much with software to understand the real-world depth and create a realistic marriage between artificial reality and my face.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra’s rear camera array includes a laser to assist with autofocus. It does that by reading the depth information of a subject and their environment. I’d have to assume that if Samsung had drilled one additional hole in the screen next to the 40MP front camera for a laser, it might also have brought that depth info to the front of the phone, and then better support all those TikTok filters.

So, while you’re passing harsh judgment on my TikTok activities, maybe spare some for a brand-new, innovative phone that somehow forgets to fully support the world’s most popular social media platform.

As for me, I guess I’ll stick to my iPhone 13 Pro in my unending quest to become TikTok famous.

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Galaxy S20 price cut: save $600 on the S20, S20 Plus, and S20 Ultra at Samsung

For a limited time, you can score a massive price cut on the all-new Galaxy S20 lineup at Samsung. The retailer is offering $ 600 in instant savings on the Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, and S20 Ultra when you trade in an eligible device.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 was unveiled last month and is now available to order from all major retailers and carriers. Samsung is currently offering $ 600 in instant savings on the Galaxy S20 lineup when you trade in an eligible device. You must ship in your trade-in device within 15 days of your purchase with the provided shipping label from Samsung. You can buy the Galaxy S20 unlocked or from a carrier like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint.

Keep in mind this is a limited-time offer and a fantastic deal if you're looking to buy the latest Samsung phone and have a phone to trade-in. You can also see more Samsung Galaxy S20 deals that are available from carriers and retailers.

Samsung Galaxy S20 deals:

You can also shop more offers with our roundup of the best Samsung Galaxy S20 prices and deals and the best Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus deals and plans.

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Best 4K monitors 2020: the top Ultra HD monitors and displays

It’s time to upgrade to one of the best 4K monitors on the market. UHD content is becoming more and more common in 2020. Not only do these monitors offer an incredibly immersive viewing and gaming experience, but they also give you more space when you’re doing a lot of creative work – whether that 3D design or video editing.

On top of that, 4K monitors are now more affordable than ever, even to budget buyers. In fact, they’re much cheaper than a 4K TV. When you purchase one of the best 4K monitors today, you’re not only getting excellent performance. You’re also getting it for a great price for it.

We gathered the best 4K monitors on the market right now, and put them on this list. So that you’ll spend less time shopping around and doing research, and more time enjoying beautiful content in 4K – whether you’re gaming, streaming movies or doing creative work.

The best 4K monitors at a glance

  1. LG 27UD88-W 
  2. Philips Brilliance 328P 
  3. LG Ultrafine 24MD4KL 
  4. BenQ PD2700U 
  5. Monoprice 27" 4K UHD 
  6. Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ 
  7. ViewSonic XG2700-4K 
  8. AOC U2879VF 
  9. Acer Predator X27 
  10. LG 43UD79-B

LG 27UD88-W

If you have the horsepower to drive the LG 27UD88-W, you should pick it up. (Image credit: LG)

When you’re looking for the best 4K monitor, you want to find something that’s affordable, but also has fantastic picture quality. It’s a balance that’s pretty rare, but the LG 27UD88-W hits it out of the park. Not only does this panel cover 99% of the sRGB color space, but it does so with an insane contrast ratio and a response time to display the best PC games as they should be seen. The best part? It does all this while maintaining a reasonable price tag. If you have the horsepower to drive the LG 27UD88-W, you should pick it up.

Read the full review: LG 27UD88-W 

Philips Brilliance 328P

The Philips Brilliance 328P really is one of the best 4K monitors out there. (Image credit: Philips)

As both 4K panels and HDR technology become more ubiquitous, we’re starting to see more affordable monitors take on the market, and the Philips Brilliance 328P does just that. This 4K monitor combines a 4K VA panel with decent HDR performance at a price point that won’t force you to break open the piggy bank. Its brightness doesn’t quite reach its lofty HDR 600 rating, but at this price, it’s hard to complain. The Philips Brilliance 328P really is one of the best 4K monitors out there. 

Read the full review: Philips Brilliance 328P 

LG Ultrafine 24MD4KL

LG Ultrafine 24MD4KL is the perfect match for your Mac or Ultrabook.

4K fans will find a lot to love in the LG Ultrafine 24MD4KL, especially if they’re photographers or videographers who need all that prime real estate and high resolution. From its 4K resolution and color accuracy, to its plethora of USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports and buttonless design, this 4K display is the perfect match for your Mac or ultrabook. And, despite those bizarrely thick bezels and high price tag, this display might be hard to resist. 

Read the full review: LG Ultrafine 24MD4KL

BenQ PD2700U

When you get the BenQ PD2700U, you are getting a lot of pixels. (Image Credit: BenQ)

If you’re on the market for one of the best 4K monitors for everyday computing and productivity, without all the fancy bells and whistles, you’ll want the BenQ PD2700U. This monitor doesn’t feature fancy Quantum Dot tech, or Adaptive Sync, it doesn’t even have USB-C input! But, when you get the BenQ PD2700U, you are getting a lot of pixels, which is all you really need. It’s not the cheapest 4K monitor on this list, but it’s color accurate, has plenty of desktop real estate, and will comfortably fit in any office environment. 

Read the full review: BenQ PD2700U 

Monoprice 27" 4K UHD

Monoprice 27″ 4K UHD’s IPS panel allows for extremely sharp image. (Image Credit: Monoprice)

You may not have heard of Monoprice, but this brand is behind some of the most affordable monitors out there right now. Its Ultra-Slim Aluminum monitor, for example, is hailed for its sleek, ultra-thin bezel design and ultra-wide viewing angles at 178°. This monitor isn’t particularly feature-rich – there are no built-in speakers, for example – but its IPS panel allows for extremely sharp image, FreeSync tech reduces screen tearing and Monoprice’s Pixel Perfect Guarantee gives it vibrant color performance. Plus, with two DisplayPorts and two HDMI ports, there’s plenty of connectivity on offer. 

Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ

Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ is a 4K gaming monitor with HDR and the kind of color support you see in professional displays. (Image Credit: Asus)

While 4K monitors are becoming more and more common, even without particularly powerful hardware, we still run into the kind of monitor that changes everything. The Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ is one of these. Asus has managed to craft a 4K gaming monitor with HDR and the kind of color support you see in professional displays – and render that all at 144Hz with G-Sync no less. There are only a few monitors out there that packs as many features as this Asus screen, and that’s why it’s one of the best 4K monitors. But, keep in mind, you’re going to have to pay for something this advanced – and we mean pay.

Read the full review: Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ

ViewSonic XG2700-4K

ViewSonic XG2700-4K boasts amazing picture quality, quick response time, accurate color performance and multiple ports. (Image Credit: ViewSonic)

If you’re looking for a 4K monitor for gaming, ViewSonic’s XG2700-4K is the perfect fit. It is not without quirks: the screen brightness could be higher, the red on black trim is an acquired taste, and it has no built-in speakers. On the other hand, you get amazing picture quality, quick response time, accurate color performance, multiple ports, and a versatile stand for multiple viewing angle options. Its most notable feature is AMD FreeSync to prevent tearing and ensure that your games are running smoothly. Of course, the picture-in-picture and picture-by-picture modes are also helpful because who doesn’t multitask nowadays.


The AOC U2879VF has a 1ms response time and a refresh rate of 144Hz for a low price. (Image Credit: AOC)

IPS displays may offer better viewing angles and color representation, but a good TN panel makes for a much better gaming monitor, thanks to much faster response times, higher refresh rates and affordability. This is why the AOC U2879VF has a 1ms response time and a refresh rate of 144Hz for a low price. If you can forgive the restricted viewing angles, the occasional flickering at 144Hz, the absence of a USB port, and the ho hum color performance, this AMD FreeSync enabled monitor is for you.

Read the full review: AOC U2879 VF 

Acer Predator X27

If you need the tech, it’s definitely there in the Acer Predator X27. (Image Credit: Acer)

If you have an absolute beast of a gaming computer – think two Nvidia RTX 2080 Tis in SLI – and you need a monitor that can keep up, you might want to take a look at the Acer Predator X27. Not only is it a 27-inch 4K monitor with HDR, but it also has a refresh rate of a whopping 144 Hz. If you have the horsepower, you can play games in 4K competitively without losing an edge to the person playing in 1080p. But, as you may expect from a spec sheet like this, it’s very expensive – but if you need the tech, it’s definitely there.

Read the full review: Acer Predator X27

LG 43UD79-B

The LG 43UD79-B’s features will more than make up for its flaws. (Image Credit: LG)

You’ll need a bigger desk with 43UD79-B’s hefty, 42-inch screen. Unfortunately this bigger than life screen might also be darker around the edges and a sluggish refresh rage. However, this 4K monitor’s other features will more than make up for its flaws. The screen split software, for one, allows for a range of screen configurations. This, coupled with its four HDMI inputs, a DisplayPort 1.2a port, and a USC-C port, will let you effortlessly run multiple devices at once. Along with its true IPS screen, color-rich display, and FreeSync compatibility, you might just be getting a bargain.

  • Looking for a more great gaming monitor? Check out our top picks
  • Or set up your living room with one of the best 4K TVs on the market

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