Google Glass: Hardware Review

There is no denying that Google Glass is striking. It makes heads turn. Some may love the look, others may hate it, but either way it is undeniably striking. The greater public may judge the Google Glass book by its cover, but at Phandroid we dig much deeper than the surface, so let’s dive into the hardware that makes Google Glass possible.

Google Glass is made up of a durable titanium frame that snugly perches behind your ears and hugs your head. Its curved and bendable nature ensures it will fit all head sizes… okay, most head sizes. The primary material seems to be a titanium plastic with the exception of the nose ridge, which is made of a more firm and sturdy metal with two rubber nosepads affixed.

The Glass frame starts as a slim and sleek stripe on the left side that conspicuously wraps around your entire forehead, narrowing slightly in the center. Regardless of which color option you select, Glass comes with a titanium trim on the exterior of the frame. As it runs behind your right ear, the titanium trim switches to colored plastic and suddenly grows into a considerable chunk.

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This bulk behind your right ear serves an important purpose: it houses the device’s battery (size unknown). On one particular day my battery lasted about 7 hours. Doesn’t seem too long, but over that time I recorded an hour of video, spent at least an hour navigating, and was engaging in random googling and testing throughout.

On the inside of the battery compartment is what seems like a button that reads “GLASS”. This isn’t a button at all, but rather a Bone Conduction Transducer, which allows you to hear audio with Glass.

First, the transducer converts the electronic audio signal into mechanical vibrations. This vibration is then emitted through that little “GLASS” button discussed above. You can actually feel the vibration behind your ear – it tickles a little bit and takes some getting used to. Your bones then receive these vibrations and conduct them as hearable sounds to your inner ear.

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Following the frame back up the right side, we find an attached underarm that makes up the meat of the device, both in size and function. On the rear of this arm is the power button, LED status indicator light, and microUSB charging port.

Inside the main shaft of this arm are the guts: internal memory, processor, etc… WiFi 802.11 b/g, Bluetooth, 12GB of usable memory synced with Google Cloud Storage, 16GB of total flash, and more.

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Continuing along this arm you come to a curved hinge at the front right. This hinge allows you to bend the display either closer to your face or further from your face, an essential feature to provide optimal viewing angles for different head shapes and sizes.

On the inside of this hinge is an infrared display which is used for blink detection.

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And now we arrive at the main show: the Glass. Interestingly enough, it’s made of plastic, and understandably so for the sake of durability. An overhead view shows an angled reflector which receives the projected light, and bends it towards your eye, allowing you to view the Glass display in all its glory. Google likened the display to viewing a 25-inch HD television from 8 feet away and it’s a claim I wouldn’t refute. All things considered, the Glass display looks phenomenal.

The big black circle to the side of the Glass display is the 5MP camera which takes exceptional photos and 720p videos. The small black circle on the lower right of the display is a light sensor, allowing Glass to appropriately adjust the photo and video settings to optimize the final product.

Whether Google Glass is perceived as cool or lame may largely rest on looks alone, which will obviously vary from person to person. The overall aesthetics are visually appealing with a slim profile, sleek lines, and a minimalistic approach where possible. But even sticking to the basics, Glass stands out.

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Some think it looks sleek and futuristic. Others think it looks creepy and clunky. Some are blown away and excited by the potential Glass may offer. Others gawk about privacy concerns, safety issues, and the impending doom of society. Glass is a great idea, but whether it will catch on depends largely on the cultural flip of a coin.

Google Glass also comes with two lenses (neither of them prescription):

  • A dark sunglass lens
  • A clear UV protective lens

Google Glass sun shades Chris Chavez DSC00125

Many people think that due to the camouflaging of the cyborg traits, Google Glass looks better with sunglasses than without… what do you think?

You’ve also got the option of 5 different colors: Charcoal, Slate, Cotton, Sky Blue, and White. It seems most are going with Slate, but I’ve seen my fair share of chicks who prefer Sky Blue and they look mighty hot. It just depends on your preferences and style. Which color would you get?

Google Glass colors

For now, Glass is only good for those with good vision or who wear contact lenses. With how easily these lenses slide and snap on, I believe we’ll definitely see third party lens manufacturers offering custom prescription versions if Google Glass takes off.

Alternatively, Google could offer a “clip on” version of Google Glass that works in conjunction with your current eyeglasses, but this seems like a long shot: it would cause sub-par aesthetics and a potentially poor experience, something Google wouldn’t want. But on the flip side, it’s doubtful Google would prevent a 3rd party from developing this type of solution themselves.

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Google also includes a really nice charger with Google Glass. Instead of a cylindrical cord, the Glass USB cord is wide and flat, making it really easy to wind up and less likely to get tangled. I’d like to see more of these.

The entire cord is black, but the part where the USB port connects to the wall charger is color coded, preventing the annoying, “Ugh, I got it upside down!” reaction. Same goes for the microUSB where it plugs into Glass.

See Glass in the above picture plugged in? Notice that the charger rests flat, allowing Glass to be nice and sturdily propped up while keeping the left side in the air. Nice touch.

That wraps up our Google Glass Hardware Review. Remember: this is beta hardware. When the real deal comes out we’re likely to see improvements. Not to mention, we’ll hear more about the innards of Glass, including details on the processor and battery.

Which side of the fence are you on regarding the hardware and design: love it or hate it? What would make the Google Glass hardware more appealing for you?

This is part of our Google Glass Review. For more information, check out the full review, or jump directly to one of the following sections: IntroductionHardware, Software, Navigation, Calls & Messaging, Camera, Day in the life (1, 2, 3), FAQ, Conclusion.

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  • scoter man1

    “For now, Glass is only good for those with good vision or who wear contact lenses.”

    See I’d struggle with the fact that I’d have to wear glasses when the whole reason I got contacts is because I hate glasses. First world problems I guess… I’m sure other contact users can relate.

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      A model for prescription lenses is in the works. Should be awesome. https://plus.google.com/u/0/+projectglass/posts/FnpcMY5rW6s

      • scoter man1

        Right, but prescription glasses suck. You have a frame of clear vision and you have to deal with the slight distortion if you aren’t looking through the center. I just want Google Contacts =D

        • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

          Year 2029 :p

    • sindeslroyer

      If it helps at all, Glass is less noticeable than a pair of glasses. Or at least it was in my experience. It sits higher up so the top edge of the frame really is not visible and the block is clear enough that it is not really noticeable either unless you are looking right at it. And since that is in the top right corner that is not likely unless you are using it. Also due to how it is weighted, it does not feel heavy on your nose or anything like that.

      So you know, I was a Foundry attendee that has recently switched to contacts in preparation for getting it. During the two days I was messing with it, I often wore it without my glasses(which are extremely light) and I could barely notice that it was on my face. :)

  • schwartzman93

    In the video you said bone “induction” …its bone “conduction”

    • Brandon Watkins

      I was thinking the same thing!

  • Mimsyborogove923

    Oh my god, such a PLETHORA of Glass articles to read. I seriously need to finish this damn work so I can just revel in the long awaited description.

  • hemipw54

    Another rehash. Repetitive.

  • qufebg

    tinyurl.com/cnaff79