Google Glass is futuristic and cool, but is it worth shelling out your hard-earned cash to score a pair of specs for yourself? Here are some must-read reviews that will help you decide if Glass is right for you.
Note: All of the following reviews of Google Glass are based on the “Explorer Edition,” the developer/beta version of the headset. Google is expected to make a more polished, public-ready version of Glass available later this year.
1. MIT Technology Review: ‘Google Glass Still Needs a Killer App’
MIT Technology Review‘s Rachel Metz argues that Glass needs a killer app to drive sales. She explains:
“I’ve been wearing a bright orange unit and testing a variety of free apps that make the most of Glass’s nascent capabilities and its prime placement on my head. Most of them are available from Google’s Glassware market, which means they’re among a small group of apps already approved by the company. But I also tested some that had to be sideloaded onto the device using a computer—a multistep process that Google warns is done at your own risk, and that, at least in my case, temporarily disabled Glass at one point and scrambled its functions a couple times.
Since Glass is still in its early stages and isn’t available to the general public, I didn’t expect any of the apps to be incredible. And I certainly didn’t find any killer apps that would make it worthwhile to buy Glass (which costs $1,500 now). But I did find several with potential to save time and make life easier, and a couple that are already effective even though Glass is clunky, finicky, and horribly obtrusive. “
Metz highlights a few great Glass apps, including Strava Cycling (measures distance and speed while biking), GlassHunt (a shooting game), and Allthecooks Recipes (step-by-step cooking instructions.)
2. The AP: ‘It’s a Groundbreaking Device’
Barbara Ortutay of the Associated Press composed a review of the Google Glass experience which is extremely thought-provoking and well-written.
While Ortutay praised the hands-free experience of Glass as “exhilarating,” she had some choice words about the stress and etiquette that go along with wearing the device in public:
“In its current, early version, Google Glass feels bulky on my face and when I look in the mirror I see a futuristic telemarketer looking back at me. Wearing it on the subway while a homeless man shuffled through the car begging for change made me feel as if I was sporting a diamond tiara. I sank lower in my seat as he passed. If Google is aiming for mass appeal, the next versions of Glass have to be much smaller and less conspicuous…
Glass feels heavier when I’m out in public or in a group where I’m the only person wearing it. If I think about it long enough my face starts burning from embarrassment. The device has been described to me as ‘the scarlet letter of technology’ by a friend. The most frequent response I get from my husband when I try to slip Glass on in his presence is ‘please take that off.’ This is the same husband who encouraged me to buy a sweater covered in googly-eyed cats.”
3. TechRadar: ‘The First of Its Kind’
TechRadar gave Google Glass 3.5 stars out of a possible 5 stars. Their review spans a staggering 11 pages. If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, allow us to summarize.
TechRadar praised Glass for its slick design and integration of Google Now, but panned the poor battery life and subpar camera.
Their final summation states:
“But when you think about it, Google Glass is the first of its kind – at least with a major company behind it. The first iPhone with its pre-installed apps and novel touchscreen had the same ‘is this worth it or just hype?’ question surrounding when Apple launched it in 2007.
Owning Google Glass is even more reminiscent to a previous generations’ owning the first TV on the block. No one has seen it in person before and everyone want to come over and try it out. The intense public interest is entertaining, but not worth the Explorer Edition price for most consumers.
It’s still more fun than functional right now with the promise of becoming the next big thing.”
4. GizMag: ‘It’s Now Wait-And-See Time’
GizMag appears to be cautiously optimistic about the future of Glass after getting some hands-on time with the device. The GizMag reviewer wrote that the Glass experience quickly became a part of the wearer’s identity, to the point where going without Glass felt a bit like being naked.
GizMag criticized Glass for not having an App Store, and for wimpy battery life.
In their conclusion, GizMag wonders about the future of Glass as a retail product:
“As Google evolves Glass (and app developers work their magic on it), I think it has the potential to alter our daily lives on at least the same level as smartphones and tablets have. But there are also some huge question marks standing in between today’s Explorer Edition and that potential world-changing product of tomorrow.
So, as we supposedly approach Glass’ retail release, it’s now wait-and-see time. What will Google’s engineers and designers come up with? Can they minimize its head-turning appearance – or at least make it more socially acceptable as it is now? Can they improve its battery life by 50 percent or more? Can they do all of this and squeeze it into, say, the $300-500 price range? That’s a tall order, but we’ll see.”
5. CNET: ‘Limited, Fascinating’
CNET‘s in-depth review of Google Glass, which appears to have some odd limitations:
“Sharing pictures and video via Google Glass is limited to your Gmail contacts and Google+ circles, but there are extra oddities: you can currently add only 10 of your Gmail contacts to Glass, and via a Web interface management tool that’s not on Glass itself. Google Circles have to be set up for sharing before you start (all pictures and videos automatically upload to a private folder on Google+, however).
That extra layer of careful social management almost feels Nintendo-like, in the sense that Nintendo’s hardware has often relied on “friend codes” to manage online connections. This fixes some of Glass’ perceived privacy issues, but in the end, yes, you can still record video in a very discreet manner, then share it online.”
That being said, the CNET review gave Glass high marks for its ability to keep users from missing important phone calls, its lightweight design, and the “crisp and bright” screen (at least, when indoors.)