Hands On & First Impressions – Google Glass Explorer Edition (2nd Generation)

Last week, we were able to snag an invitation to the Google Glass Explorer program and jumped at the opportunity. These invites entitled participants the ability to buy the $1500 (without taxes) 2nd generation Explorer model and these invitations were selling on eBay for anywhere from $1 to $1000+.

Here is the timeline of what took place during the invite process:

  • November 11th – Previous Explorer referred us to receive an invitation
  • November 12th – Google Glass invitation arrives in email form
  • November 12th – Order was placed
  • November 13th – Received email that Glass unit shipped
  • November 14th – Glass unit arrived at our doorstep

First Impressions Of The Google Glass Explorer Edition

Having only had the Glass in my possession for a few days, my first impressions might not reflect how I'll feel after extended use, but I will share them anyways. The Glass unit  is stunning in person with high quality build materials and a sleek, futuristic look. Putting them on for the first time, I was shocked and how lightweight and comfortable they felt despite the uneven distribution of weight on each end. They do look and feel a bit awkward in a social setting, but this factor is lessened when you have the polarized sun lens (included) equipped as you blend in more with the crowd.

The screen did take a bit to get used to and initially I found it looked rather fuzzy, but things cleared up as my eyes adjusted to the screen and I properly positioned the nose pieces. The included mono ear bud is optional and plugs into the right mini USB port (which is also used to charge the device).  It amazes me that the mono ear bud wasn't included with the first generation Glass unit as the bone conduction technology is cool, but not very practical for things like listening to music or making phone call. The main reason for this is that the audio quality and maximum volume without the earbud is sub-par and the sound emits in a way that is easily heard by the people around you.

So far the battery life has been relatively decent especially when I'm not continually taking photos or videos. I am able to utilize the device for normal use for 5+ hour periods on a single charge and when I've needed to charge the device it took around 2 hours to complete.

From my limited use, the video and photo capabilities have exceeded my expectations. If you didn't already know, you can capture a photo/video via a voice command or you also can use the dedicated camera button found on the top right of the Glass unit. Photo and video quality is solid when your under adequate lighting conditions, but starts to degrade rather severely as you begin shooting in low-light. You can check out some sample shots taken with the Glass below:

One of the biggest disappointments with the Glass so far is the lack of iOS support. It makes sense they Google would cater their own device to Android users, but it is a pain that I lose most of the core functionality as soon as I leave my Wi-Fi connection just for being an iOS user (unless I pay a premium for monthly tethering which still doesn't enable all functionality). However, I just placed an order for the new Nexus 5 so I'll be able to test the Glass in-depth with all the features before posting the final review sometime next month.

Feel free to leave any questions about the 2nd generation Google Glass Explorer Edition in the comments below and I'll do my best to answer them.