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Google Glass hands-on review: UK Explorer edition

Augmented reality eyewear arrives in the UK, and we give it a spin
Tue Jun 24 2014, 15:14

GOOGLE ANNOUNCED this week that its augmented reality eyewear Google Glass is now available in the UK - the only country where it's selling the device outside the US.

While Glass is still in the prototype phase, Google has made a number of tweaks and changes since Glass first debuted two years ago, and has added new applications to the spectacles that it hopes will persuade the UK public that it's worth coughing up £1,000 to buy.

Design and specifications
Google Glass has a titanium frame, making the device exceptionally lightweight while remaining strong. You can take each side of the spectacles and bend them in opposite directions and they will flex right back into place, meaning that Glass will fit most head shapes and sizes.

The light weight of Google Glass means that it's comfortable on the head, but the nose pads do feel rather sharp at first and will take some getting used to. Looking in a mirror, you will also feel like a bit of a fool, as Glass - even now as it arrives in Blighty two years on - isn't the most inconspicuous of wearable technologies, especially when compared to Samsung's Gear 2 smartwatch.

In a room filled with others trying out the spectacles, it soon didn't feel too alien to be wearing Google Glass. However, we're not sure that we would have been comfortable leaving Google's event space, as we'd likely get some odd looks wearing Glass around the streets of London.

Google Glass front UK launch

As well as being available as a barebones frame offering, Google Glass is now available with frames included - as shown above - including hipster-style chunky black frames and visor-style sunglasses, which we much preferred wearing compared to Glass alone.

Built-in next to the Glass's touch-sensitive sensor there's a camera mounted in Glass, alongside a small shutter button that lets you silently snap a photo or shoot a video using its 5MP HD 720p camera, for those times when you're recording an event where you don't want to shout, "take a picture!" This is not the most attractive feature for those who are concerned about privacy, and we found the camera's quality lacklustre.

Glass has both 802.11b/g WiFi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity, 12GB of usable internal storage and a battery that will last for about a full day of "typical use". However, if you fancy streaming your life via the now-available Livelens app, the battery will only last less than an hour.

Next: Operating system and performance.


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