If you feel the familiar pinch of jealousy whenever you spot Levar Burton in Star Trek, it may be time to consider some of the better smart glasses on the market today.
While tech is quickly becoming the most profitable economic sector in the world today, Google’s first iteration of smart glasses was poorly received in 2013. Despite this lukewarm attempt at innovation, smart glasses have quietly grown into a competitive market of emerging products.
If these sound appealing to you, we have three products for you to choose from.
This comparison will look at the Razer Anzu, Soundcore Frames, and Ray-Ban Stories to see which product can best grasp the future. Whether you want hands-free functionality, lenses that can change depending on the sun’s brightness, or have always wanted to live life with a heads-up display, this article will show you all of these features and much more!
These glasses have a listed price of nearly $200, though they regularly go on massive discounts (in fact, it is not uncommon for this model to be discounted 50% or more). Because of this I strongly recommend waiting for a discounted price or sale to purchase them, as the two-hundred dollar price mark feels a bit high for what this product gives you.
They offer an excellent sleek design, very minimal charge times, two different switchable lenses depending on where you are, and an excellent microphone that easily picks up every syllable you toss out.
This does not make up for very poor audio, lack of any noise cancellation, and relatively steep asking price which is why I would strongly encourage potential consumers to utilize patience and wait for a sale.
- Excellent, comfortable design
- Great microphone quality and simplistic call commands
- Low latency audio is great for gaming enthusiasts
- The audio quality is poor and really lacks bass
- Worst battery life of the three
- No noise cancellation
At an MSRP of ~$150, it’s hard to complain about the price of these intelligent glasses, especially when they go on discount as often as they do.
These glasses have incredible amounts of customization, several brilliantly designed models, and exceptional microphone quality. While all smart glasses find themselves lacking in the audio department, the sound projection of these is actually quite pleasant to the ear.
Considering the price tag and the jack-of-all-trades nature of this product, I would highly recommend these glasses above the other two.
Not only are they considerably cheaper than the Ray-Ban Stories, but they also are comparable in almost every category. The Razer Anzu smart glasses offer bigger discounts quite regularly (putting them at sub $100 prices), but they are a worse product overall.
If you want the best bang for your buck, these Soundcore Frames are exactly that.
- Solid price
- Several models and customization options
- Very solid microphone quality
- Feeble audio
- Standard battery life
- Clunky charging design
Ray-Ban Stories are likely the most technologically advanced smart glasses of the three but it comes at a price tag north of $300 which is hard to justify.
Without question, they are beautiful glasses made by one of the most well-known manufacturers in the industry – but the requirements needed to use these well-made lenses might be more than some are willing to do. To use these, you must have a Facebook login which is either a big deal or old news depending on your opinion of social media.
The camera is actually pretty solid and offers photos that feel close or even with most smartphones, though the two video cameras stapled to the front of your glasses might make you appear a bit sketchy.
The biggest perk of these sunglasses is their six-hour battery life and a stylish charging case that comes with three additional charges. If design and battery life are the height of what you look for, these are the ideal choice. You will be paying quite a bit more, however.
- Excellent design
- The camera offers solid quality and a big memory bank
- Absurd list of features
- Most expensive product by far
- Video camera sunglasses may attract some looks
- Abysmal Audio
It doesn’t matter if you can shoot lasers from your glasses, if they look ugly or clunky no one is going to want to purchase them. This is why design for smart glasses is so essential – you are trying to create a fusion of futuristic face wear and casual fashion.
To save you from workplace humiliation, let’s go over which of these sunglasses offers the most intelligent and attractive look of the three.
The Razer Anzu benefits from a less-is-more appearance that leaves much to the imagination. From a glance, most onlookers could be forgiven for thinking Anzu are just regular glasses, as the design just appears like a higher-end brand of corrective lenses. The glasses are rated IPX4 (splash resistant) and you get the choice of rectangular or circular lenses.
The support arms grow thinner towards the temple tips to provide a more snug fit around the ear. Every box of Razer smart glasses offers two switchable pairs of lenses – the 35% blue light filtering lenses that will come pre-attached and the replacement 99% UVA/UVB sunglass lenses. These glasses have their share of drawbacks, but their design is appropriately subtle and quietly fashionable.
Soundcore Frames manufactured by Anker offer an incredible amount of choice in the style and shape of your glasses.
Want a pair that look like minimal reading glasses? The Soundcore Frames Cafe is an excellent choice. Do you want to break out stylish sunglasses that compliment the rest of your wardrobe? The Soundcore Frames Tour is a stunning selection!
The biggest gripe with the design is the lack of prescriptive lens options for those with vision issues.
Thankfully for consumers, the perks of the Soundcore Frames glasses do not stop there. The stems of the glasses can actually be removed from the lenses and frames, allowing you to switch out the front with other Soundcore choices as you see fit. All Soundcore Frames have been tested to be splash resistant (IPX4).
As of this article, this product offers ten different frame choices. Outside of one or two models, they are all beautifully designed and unique enough to have their own individual identities.
Ray-Ban Stories is a series of smart glasses designed by industry leader Ray-Ban and tech giant Facebook also known as Meta. This fusion of two specialists has paid off fairly well when it comes to design, as Ray-Ban has a massive collection of sunglasses going back to the thirties. This has made it easier for them to transition into smart glasses, as they simply have to thicken a few components of the previous models.
This collection of smart glasses comes in three different models: Wayfarer, Round, and Meteor. Each model comes with a series of different colors depending on preference. At the time of this article, there are 11 different colors for Wayfarer, 4 for Meteor, and 7 for Round.
The design comes from a company that has specialized in sunglasses for close to a century and it shows – these are beautiful sunglasses.
Verdict – While all three are well-designed and on average visually appealing, Ray-Ban Stories customization and overall layout across all three models are enough for them to win out.
It is hard to imagine a pair of glasses with an exceptional sound system and for a good reason — it’s pretty rare. Outside of the fact that you leave a lot of open real estate between the projected audio and eardrum, there isn’t much room inside glasses to stuff technology into. Because of this, there is a high degree of hesitancy for consumers to delve into smart glass technology for fear of it being a gimmick.
Something consumers may not realize is that these glasses will pollute your immediate vicinity with the dulcet tones of your playlist. This audio leakage can prove quite problematic, and embarrassing, especially if you need to take a call.
If Razer nailed it with their design, they likely took a good bit of the day off when it came to audio. That’s not entirely fair – many smart glass manufacturers struggle with sound quality due to the limitations of the products.
The Anzu glasses are no different, you have no isolation from external noise so if you live anywhere where sound exists – you will be including it in your playlist. Because of this, make sure you will be using them in a controlled area where you determine exactly what noise takes place around you.
Razer has streamlined its marketing focus to highlight the benefits of these glasses for gaming enthusiasts. Not only have they included lenses with blue light filtering, but the audio sits at 60ms low latency so you don’t have to worry about involuntary pauses and skips in your music.
Unfortunately, the sound doesn’t get very loud at all, the bass is barely present and its thump is nowhere to be found. If you don’t mind lower-end headphones these certainly won’t bother you, but audiophiles should steer clear.
The Soundcore Frames have four speakers (two 25x8mm in the front and two 8mm drivers behind the ear) inside the sunglasses. These are designed to create a surround sound experience for the wearer. While the audio projection or soundstage is clearly superior to the Razer Anzu and Ray-Ban Stories, we still come across the same issues that seem to plague all smart glasses – external noise and substandard audio quality.
If you have to commute to work through public transportation or on foot, you are going to have a tremendously difficult time drowning out the noise around you. Additionally, the limited space in these glasses makes it close to impossible to offer any serious horsepower as far as audio is concerned.
While no brand of smart glasses we have yet seen offers incredible audio capabilities, the standard is so low that these Soundcore Frames actually outperform surprisingly well.
The audio of the Ray-Ban Stories is competent for the sunglass company though comes with the same drawbacks that all smart glasses have. They offer as much quality as you can get from the speakers, though you still won’t hear much bass if you can detect it at all. While music would still be enjoyable on quiet walks or inside a quiet room, it is going to come very treble-heavy.
They will still be able to be overheard by those around you and this is only made worse as you have to adjust the volume upward to compete with any noise that may be in your immediate vicinity. To avoid redundancy, I won’t go into why these smartglasses fall short in this category.
I will say it is going to take some time and clever engineering before people start giving smart glass audio any sincere praise.
Verdict – Soundcore Frames offer a very pleasant soundstage, giving the line of glasses a slight edge.
Voice & Calling
If listening to your Spotify playlist wasn’t enough, you can now take and make voice calls with almost all smart glasses today. How efficiently you can take these calls and how headache-free you will be during the conversation is a far different matter.
The smart glass market is still new and because of manufacturers’ relative inexperience with the tech, it doesn’t seem like a standard has been established.
While the audio you receive may be unsatisfying, the microphone on the Razer Anzu is very competent and easy to use.
When you speak it goes through clear and concise and easily picks up audio despite the microphone feeling far from your face. The omnidirectional microphone is located on the internal corners of the glasses (opposite side of the touch input menu), just behind where the arms meet the lenses.
You can answer calls with as little as the touch of your finger and if that’s too much to ask, the glasses are compatible with 3rd party mobile voice assistants. Depending on what you are paired with, you can either choose to make an old-fashioned voice call or start a video conference.
The input menu works well with the call option and is one of the more efficient parts of the Anzu glasses. It feels really nice not having to fumble for a phone when you hear the ringtone and they designed the glasses to intensify that ease of use.
The Soundcore Frames models are no slouches when it comes to mic quality and call connection, either. The location of the two microphones is situated perfectly to pick the angelic hymn of your speaking voice.
Of the three, these performed the best at isolating voice without introducing background noise. This comes with the caveat that onlookers can still pick up the voice on the other end if you are in close proximity.
Like the Razer Anzu, you are more than capable of answering calls via the touch menu or with vocal commands.
What separates the Soundcore Frames is the lack of a Wi-Fi requirement for simple instructions due to it not needing a third-party vocal assistant. This makes these far handier in environments like the outdoors where you won’t always have access to the internet or a nearby Alexa.
Lastly, Ray-Ban Stories seems the least equipped to function as an extension of your mobile device. While it can certainly take calls, the sound feels a bit clunky and staticky at times. The microphone picks up your voice well enough, although it can oftentimes make you sound like you are at the other end of a long tunnel.
While it does come with three microphones, they feel slightly improved from what you would find attached to most discount headphones and are by no means exceptional.
Unsurprisingly, most of the call functions can be accessed via a touchpad. With a double tap of your finger, you can answer and hang up on calls. While you can’t access your phone via vocal commands, the simplicity of touch controls feels so much easier it’s hard to complain about it.
Ray-Ban Stories are perfectly capable of taking calls, though it is by no means their specialty.
Verdict – The Soundcore Frames offer vocal commands without the need of an internet connection and possess the best call quality with the Razer Anzu’s being a close second.
Features & Battery
The minor features and battery lives of most of our household items are commonly reallocated to the backs of our minds, never to return. This can pose major issues when purchasing a product as we often overlook some of the more pivotal parts of a piece of tech.
If you are worried about how long these glasses will last before dying, or what you can do with them until they do – continue reading!
The battery life of the Razer Anzu feels pretty standard for smart glasses at five hours, though it falls behind its competitors slightly. Should you wanna switch the glasses off, all you need to do is fold the arms forward and the battery will stop feeding power to them.
Charge times are minimal at best with a full battery requiring only an hour and a half. This is a welcome consolation at five hours of battery as most people can’t make it through their day without having to plug these in.
The more exciting prospect of witnessing this emerging tech equipment is seeing the features and accessories of these devices grow with each new model. Unfortunately, because many of these products are still finding their footing, the features aren’t as grandiose yet as other tech products.
Anzu glasses offer touch commands, compatibility with smartphone assistants, two switchable lenses, and status indicators found on the side of the glasses themselves.
Soundcore Frames offer the middle ground of five and a half hours of battery life, though offer a quick charge option. If you charge the glasses for ten minutes you can get an hour and a half of playtime out of them.
You can charge the device by utilizing a USB cable with two magnetic ends that connect to the arms of your glasses. This is a bit clunky and the Ray-Ban approach of a charging case would not only be longer-lasting, but it would also be far more efficient.
The story of the Soundcore Frames features begins with the corresponding app that works with the glasses. The Soundcore app is one of the better apps we’ve seen for tech products and offers an incredible amount of customization should you choose to utilize it.
You get seven different surround sounds, a graphic equalizer, and the ability to change your touch controls. You can also use the “Try-on” feature that allows you to see what you would look like in other models. Finally, you can utilize either touch controls or voice commands without the need for a third-party voice assistant.
There are two concerning aspects of the Ray-Ban Stories that should be addressed. Due to the collaboration with Meta, it is a requirement for the consumer to have a Facebook account to use the glasses. This may not be an issue for some, but if you don’t have an account or possess an aversion to social media – this has to be a dealbreaker.
While everyone can understand why Facebook chose to do this, it still feels a bit too demanding.
Next are the two very obvious video cameras that are on the front of your frames. While these cameras could be brilliant for those on vacation or the adventurous outdoorsman, use a bit of caution deciding when and where you choose to throw these on. A bit of social grace goes a long way, and people may be rightfully upset if they think they are being discreetly recorded.
Because of these two issues, a good portion of folks would likely never purchase this product as it may cause more trouble than it solves.
Hopping off my soapbox, let’s get into the battery life of this product as it is the most impressive of the three. If you are using them passively, expect six hours of battery. If the use is continuous throughout the battery life, you will get about three hours.
Thankfully they come with a charging case that offers a trio of extra charges. When the charging case dies, it will require three hours to fully charge back up again. The use of a charging case is a subtle stroke of genius on Ray-Ban’s part and should be adapted to other brands as it aids the consumer quite a bit.
Going back to the two video cameras, they actually offer a pretty sharp resolution. If you are using the camera you will get decent quality pictures (Up To 2592 x 1944px) though the overall image will become a bit less clear when utilizing the video. You can store up to five-hundred photos on the glasses or one hundred 15-second videos before filling up the memory.
You get touch control commands, though you can use vocal commands as well should you find your mitts occupied. If you want to upload photos or videos (Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp) you can do so through the Facebook View App.
For all the drawbacks that these glasses do have, they may be one of the most technologically advanced models of smart glasses on the market today.
Verdict – If you don’t mind the Facebook prerequisite and fairly visible front-facing video cameras, the Ray-Ban Stories offer the most features and best battery life by far. If you want something free from the imposing grasp of Zuckerberg, the Soundcore Frames have solid battery life and a good list of features.
With the push of tech to get involved with augmented reality lenses, it feels like smart glasses will naturally evolve over the next few years.
Despite this, you have a good amount of choices at your disposal currently, most of which are probably far cheaper than anything coming down the pipeline.
For now, we would strongly recommend the Soundcore Frames for their utility and price. Cautiously, we would recommend the Razer Anzu glasses and Ray-Ban Stories should you find them more appealing, just be wary of their drawbacks.