This paper is a review and analysis of the various implementation architectures of diffractive waveguide combiners for augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) headsets, and smart glasses. Extended reality (XR) is another acronym frequently used to refer to all variants across the MR spectrum. Such devices have the potential to revolutionize how we work, communicate, travel, learn, teach, shop, and are entertained. Already, market analysts show very optimistic expectations on return on investment in MR, for both enterprise and consumer applications. Hardware architectures and technologies for AR and MR have made tremendous progress over the past five years, fueled by recent investment hype in start-ups and accelerated mergers and acquisitions by larger corporations. In order to meet such high market expectations, several challenges must be addressed: first, cementing primary use cases for each specific market segment and, second, achieving greater MR performance out of increasingly size-, weight-, cost- and power-constrained hardware. One such crucial component is the optical combiner. Combiners are often considered as critical optical elements in MR headsets, as they are the direct window to both the digital content and the real world for the user’s eyes. Two main pillars defining the MR experience are comfort and immersion. Comfort comes in various forms: – wearable comfort —reducing weight and size, pushing back the center of gravity, addressing thermal issues, and so on – visual comfort —providing accurate and natural 3-dimensional cues over a large field of view and a high angular resolution – vestibular comfort —providing stable and realistic virtual overlays that spatially agree with the user’s motion – social comfort —allowing for true eye contact, in a socially acceptable form factor. Immersion can be defined as the multisensory perceptual experience (including audio, display, gestures, haptics) that conveys to the user a sense of realism and envelopment. In order to effectively address both comfort and immersion challenges through improved hardware architectures and software developments, a deep understanding of the specific features and limitations of the human visual perception system is required. We emphasize the need for a human-centric optical design process, which would allow for the most comfortable headset design (wearable, visual, vestibular, and social comfort) without compromising the user’s sense of immersion (display, sensing, and interaction). Matching the specifics of the display architecture to the human visual perception system is key to bound the constraints of the hardware allowing for headset development and mass production at reasonable costs, while providing a delightful experience to the end user.