The market is rapidly heating up for smart glasses and Bluetooth audio glasses, owing to interest in tech that serves practical use cases while delivering extra utility.
A lot of prime movers in the tech space, even those with no previous experience in designing eyewear, have entered the segment with products that provide a mix of value and features.
Today’s roundup review features entrants in the space from three tech giants — Amazon, Bose, and Razer.
With the Echo Frames, Amazon brings to the table its already established muscle in the smart devices segment. Bose, on the other hand, is known for consumer audio products and their smart glasses have advanced audio playing capabilities. Razer, known for making gaming computers and accessories, is a surprise entrant in the field with the Razer Anzu presenting a quirky mix of interesting features and functionality.
If you are in the market for a pair of smart glasses, which do you pick? Read this comparison review and the choice should become clearer for you.
At the very outset, it is important to understand that while the Amazon Echo Frames and Razer Anzu are standalone products, the Bose Frames are a line of glasses.
In the Bose line-up are classic sunglasses, modern sunglasses, and sports glasses, all of which are available at various price points. They come with various features and are diametrically different from one another. For the purpose of this review, we will only look at their latest launches. For a detailed comparison of three top Bose Frames, see our previous review here.
Another point of difference is the fact that the Echo Frames and the Razer Anzu are traditional eyeglasses while the Bose Frames line consists of sunglasses. While all of these can come in the category of “lifestyle eyewear” products, the Echo Frames and Razer Anzu are meant more for regular, general use.
While not sunglasses, it is possible to purchase both the Echo Frames and the Razer Anzu with other forms of eye protection. The design will come down to a few important considerations:
- How much do you value audio quality?
- How much do you love the Razer brand?
- How much do you value smart functionality and Alexa integration?
Answer these questions and the purchasing decision should become a lot easier for you.
Design and Build Quality
The sturdily built Amazon Echo Frames are available in a handful of color options. In the package, you can find the glasses, which come with adjustable temple tips for better fit and comfort, along with a solid carrying case, a charging cable, and a power adapter.
While the stems are of substantial thickness, the product feels light and comfortable and the controls are laid out in an intuitive manner. Including a charger in the box is also something you would not see in other products. You can choose between polarized sun lenses that offer UV protection and blue light filtering lenses for regular use. You also get IPX4 water resistance.
The Razer Anzu comes with the trademark build quality that Razer is known for. In the box, you will find the glasses with pre-installed blue light filtering lenses, a set of replacement lenses that are polarized for sun protection, a carrying case, a charging cable, and a cleaning cloth. The glasses come in two different sizes, and you also get IPX4 water resistance. Two designs, round and rectangular, are on offer.
The new Bose Frames models have excellent build quality and the contents of the package will vary depending on the model you choose to buy. While the midrange models come with standard carrying cases, the sports model comes with a case made from ballistic nylon material. The polarized sunglasses offer adequate protection from UV light. Depending on the model you purchase, you have two size options and several design options to choose from.
With all three models, you have the option of fitting the glasses with prescription lenses, with Amazon and Razer offering discounts on prescription lenses and Amazon also offering insurance reimbursement in select cases.
All three models operate based on an open-air audio model, which has speakers situated close to the ears. This enables users to enjoy music playback without losing their sense of ambient sounds. For regular use, this is ideal as it does not involve any isolation or impaired hearing since the ears always remain uncovered.
The Echo Frames have a useful feature where you can set up the glasses to automatically adjust the volume of music and sounds based on the ambient noise levels, preventing the need to make repeated manual adjustments. The sound signature on offer is reasonably flat, leading to music playback that sounds natural and organic. While there isn’t much appeal for listeners who prefer a heavy low end, the balance and open sound will satisfy discerning listeners who value a natural, open soundstage. There are a total of four speakers with two in each temple, making this a set of beam-forming speakers.
The Razer Anzu, on the other hand, brings low-latency audio as its main feature, making it well-known that gaming is the intended use case here. The 60ms latency makes sure that audio remains instantaneous and free of stutter while playing competitive games. The sound signature is significantly bass-heavy, making it an astute choice for listening to genres like hip-hop and electronica.
In terms of audio quality, the Bose Frames are unsurpassed, especially the larger sports model Tempo with its large drivers and updated open air sound algorithm, along with DSP. The glasses carry the same smiley-EQ mid-forward prosumer sound signature that Bose is well-known for. The EQ profile and tune of the speakers encourage vocal clarity, tight and punchy low end, and shiny trebles.
Calling and Connection
All three models can be used for making voice calls. The Amazon Echo Frames come with a beam-forming microphone array that is adept at picking up voice material and rejecting background noise.
The Razer Anzu also comes with stereo omnidirectional microphones, but they are much more likely to pick up background sounds. If you are on-the-go, the microphone doesn’t perform as well as the Amazon or Bose models. But for gamers with a dedicated space and minimal background noise, this won’t be an issue.
The Bose Frames models, with the detailed beam-forming mic array, perform the best when it comes to call quality and voice clarity due to the intelligent microphone positioning and on-board DSP processing.
In terms of ease of use, you can use your voice to initiate calls using Alexa on the Echo Frames. The Razer Anzu also comes with support for voice assistants. All three models connect via Bluetooth and can operate with the latest Bluetooth standards.
Other Standout Features
All three models in this comparison come with certain standout features that can influence your purchasing decision.
With the Amazon Echo Frames, the control layout is easy to learn, with a dedicated action button, a volume rocker button, and a touchpad providing you with enough control articulation to achieve a series of outcomes. The USP of the product is easily the seamless integration with the Amazon ecosystem, where your glasses can work with the Amazon Alexa app on your phone and are compatible with a host of other Amazon smart products.
The easy integration with the Alexa voice assistant makes it possible to use your glasses for all smart assistant features, including smart home control. You can also turn off the microphone for privacy. The glasses can also be used to control some of your favorite smartphone apps through voice and you can set you preferences to only hear priority notifications while using the product.
With the Razer Anzu, the fit and finish and low-latency audio are the selling points, making it a great device for general use and gaming. Dual status indicator lights and touch input areas on both stems make this a breeze to use, with the option of using short and long taps and swipe gestures to accomplish a variety of tasks. You can use this to start or end calls, play, pause, and change music tracks, increase or decrease active volume, or to invoke your voice assistant of choice.
With the Bose Frames models, you trade in certain convenience features for superior audio quality. The large drivers are superbly tuned and provide excellent audio quality for the open ear design. The Tempo model is also a great fit for heavy users as it offers unmatched long battery life. It is also lightweight and comfortable, thanks to a nylon frame and three different options of silicone nose pads.
Another salient selling point is the ability to change lenses on the fly based on your surroundings. You can choose between orange lenses for cycling and running during bright daylight, trail blue lenses for trail activities in shaded areas, and yellow lenses that are meant more for low-light conditions.
A long-lasting battery is an essential quality to have in premium smart glasses and all three brands deliver in this regard. With the Bose Frames Tempo, you can enjoy up to 8 hours of music playback while the battery charges to its fullest within an hour using the included USB-C charging cable.
The Razer Anzu, on the other hand, can provide a maximum of 5 hours of music playback at a stretch. When not in use, the glasses can be kept folded to activate the automatic power saving option which shuts the device off and conserves battery.
The Amazon Echo Frames also have impressive battery life, with up to 2 hours of full-on usage at 80% volume. This includes calls, music playback, audio notifications, and interacting with Alexa. You can also get more than 3 hours of continuous audio calling time and up to 4 hours of consistent music playback. The rated time for a full charge is around an hour and 45 minutes.
With this detailed roundup of three very impressive smart glasses, the onus is on you to choose wisely. It’s a judicious idea to first think about your intended use case and the features you would consider absolutely essential.
If you are already immersed in the Alexa ecosystem, especially if you are using Alexa to control your smart home, the Echo Frames would seem like the automatic choice.
On the other hand, if you are looking for the best build quality and fashion of the bunch and value low-latency audio for gaming, the Razer is an impressive choice.
Select the Bose Frames if audio quality is your prime concern. Neither of the other options can compete with the signature Bose sound.