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Google Glass review: Hands-on with the future - is it worth the price?

By and Amie Parker-Williams
Rarely has a piece of technology felt as fresh and exciting as Google Glass.

Quite unlike anything currently available, Glass is a sort of wearable smartphone which users can interact with via both voice and a touchpad.

Google Glass - is it worth the price? Digital Spy rounds up Glass's features in a hands-on video:



In terms of features, Google Glass is able to do quite a lot more than we had expected. Able to take photos, direct you, answer Google Search questions and even send text messages and read emails, it's a very impressive device.

The technology is still very much in a development phase, and for those lucky few who do have Glass, their wallets are $1,500 lighter. But so what? It carries more tech kudos than anything else out there right now.

Putting Google Glass on your head, you can see why. The titanium band that wraps around the back of your head, coupled with the clever prism projector, makes for an attention-grabbing piece of kit.

The device itself is actually really well put together. Every glasses wearer worries about sitting on their frames while they are in your back pocket. Glass felt like it might survive the odd accident, which is good for potential daily use.

Then there is the way they look on your head. If you like gadgets, you will love the way they look. If a set of vintage Paul Smith specs is more your thing, then perhaps they won't have quite so much appeal.

The core of Google Glass's tech is all buried within the plastic band that sits on the right-hand side of the frames. At the front of it is a 720p capable, 5-megapixel camera, sat directly next to the 640 x 360 glass display itself.

Along the side, there is a touch surface which you can scroll either left, right or up and down to control the Glass unit itself. This isn't quite as straightforward as we had hoped, but more on that later.

Finally, at the back there is a micro USB connector for charging, and a clever bone-conducting speaker which literally transmits sound through your skull and into your ear, so only you can hear it.

Google Glass is less about the tech inside it, but more about what it lets you do. Traditional ways of interacting with technology have been thrown out of the window. Instead, Google Glass feels more like a wearable internet connection distilled down into its most useable form.

All the complexities of a smartphone or tablet have gone. Instead, the most common web interactions are covered by Glass's very simple voice-controlled interface.

A Google search for example, is simply a case of saying "OK Glass, Google..." followed by whatever information you are looking for. Results are displayed in simple, easy-to-read cards rather than a normal Google page, making them much easier to read.

The same applies to sending messages, which is done by saying "OK Glass, send a message to…" Voice recognition is uncanny and we found Glass was putting very few, if any, typos into messages we sent.

Google Glass

© Digital Spy

Google Glass



The photo and video function is near instant, so uttering the words "take a photo" will grab what you see at that exact moment in time. Glass is fairly rapid in responding to anything you ask of it, meaning minimum time is wasted actually looking at its display. Everything feels very much at your fingertips.

While Google Glass is incredibly exciting in pretty much every respect, you do have to consider the privacy issues it presents. Being able to instantly snap video or stills straight away is something that most will find disconcerting.

The tiny prism display also performs well. It does take a bit of adjusting, but once in focus, Google says you get roughly the same experience as looking at a 25-inch screen from 8ft away. To us, it felt just the right size to not get in the way while walking about, but big enough to glance at in our peripheral vision.

Brightness is great for such a small display, which is handy as Glass really needs to be able to perform both indoors and out. Directions were easily visible outdoors, for example, even in bright sunlight.

Just a note on Glass's directions capability, as well. In a word, it's absolutely awesome. Controlled again via an "OK, Glass" wake-up command, and then the instruction "Direct me to", a small arrow with road directions will load in the Glass screen. It even faces the correct direction using the gyro inside of Google Glass.



Glass connects to the Internet to get all its search results and information via tethering to your smartphone. It can also connect via Wi-Fi, but results seemed to arrive so quickly, we can't see either being an issue.

One issue we had with the device was the touchpad surface on the side. Google has tried to add to the cool factor by including it, but we almost feel like it would be better if absolutely everything was voice controlled - especially given how good voice recognition is on Glass.

Swiping left and right to navigate menus works absolutely fine, but closing down directions or a search - which is done by swiping down - never quite worked properly. We have exceptionally small fingers as well, so imagine it would be even more problematic for those with chunkier digits.

The technology is also still in a fairly rudimentary form, needing a bit of a battery boost. The glasses simply won't make it through a whole day of use.

Google Glass is a real work in progress device, though, and Google is still working hard to improve it. This could be something that is fixed in future versions.

When it was announced, Google Glass had a real gimmick quality to it which put us off. Having now tried it, we really it's the total opposite.

It might be rough around the edges, but this is the most forward-thinking piece of technology we have seen in a long time. Its potential for streamlining the way we interact with the internet is almost unparalleled in consumer tech. We want one - and, we imagine, so will you.

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