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Why I'm sending back Google Glass

Matt Lake | May 22, 2014
Now that Glass is available to anyone with $1,500 to burn, you might be tempted to buy a pair. Our tester shares 10 good reasons not to.

Dear Google,

Thank you for the opportunity to join the recent wave of Google Glass Explorers last month. As a longtime user of Google products, I had been awaiting this opportunity ever since I didn't make it into the ranks of Glass pioneers last year. The ability to integrate a heads-up display with my Google+, Google Play and Google Maps accounts was promising indeed, so I was thrilled to receive my package.

After three weeks of usage, I have changed my mind. Please find enclosed a charcoal-gray Glass Explorer Edition package. I anticipate my refund.

For further customer feedback, please read the following items.

Yours sincerely,Matt Lake

1. Eye contact (or lack thereof)

On the plus side: The Glass screen augments your field of vision with a connected computer experience whenever you glance at the prism over your right eye.

On the other hand: It's impossible to do this and maintain eye contact. And you look cross-eyed.

Glassing out. Credit: Julia Lake.

It's called glassing out. Your eyes roll over to the right to look at the screen, and the rest of the world goes out of focus. People can't make eye contact with you, and if they're versed in popular psychology, they read things into your lack of eye contact.

They see you looking up and to the right and wonder whether it's a sign that you're lying or accessing visually remembered memories — or that you're just an isolated geek who can't socialize. Either way, it spoils a conversation.

2. Not a good listener

On the plus side: Voice recognition commands are easy to master with visual prompts.

On the other hand: Glass's voice recognition can be about as responsive as your average 6-year-old after soda and cupcakes.

Glass provides handy voice-command prompts — but often doesn't respond. Credit: Matt Lake.

I've said "OK Glass" so often, I've begun to channel Mrs. Beech from second grade repeating "Attention, class."

Background noise and a hoarse voice from allergies (or saying "OK Glass" for the umpteenth time) don't help with the voice recognition. (Dry fingertips impede gesture recognition too.)

And if you get frustrated by unresponsive hardware, you soon remember that Glass is connected to the bridge of your nose. Tapping Glass's touchpad with any force will spite your face.

3. Battery death

On the plus side: It's a handy Wi-Fi- or Bluetooth-connected device with audio and video capabilities.

On the other hand: If you actually use its capabilities, the battery drains like a bathtub.

If you're wearing a $1,500 piece of equipment laden with cool features, you want to get your money's worth. You listen to music, record video, take photographs, and after a short time, you feel a burning sensation in your right temple. Like all computers without fans, Google Glass runs warm. And in as little as an hour, your battery needs a recharge.


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