Startup Vue is taking another stab at making smartglasses a mainstream thing with the Vue Lite 2.
Joining the feature-rich Vue Pro glasses, the Lite 2 much like the first generation Lite, strips back the smarts for something that's designed to replace your headphones and let you stream audio and handle calls.
Wareable verdict: Trying on Vue Gen 1 smartglasses
It misses out on the Pro features like fitness tracking, the ability to customise onboard controls and access to the companion app to help you find your connected specs. Vue has though sought to improve audio performance and fit in either glasses or sunglasses form while offering one non-audio smart extra.
With prices starting at $199/¬£147, these do not come cheap, but it's in keeping with how much you should expect to pay for a pair of top-end audio glasses.
It's fair to say no one has really nailed audio glasses yet, so how do the Vue Lite 2 fare? We've been donning these specs to find out.
Vue Lite 2: Design, controls and setting up
The problem with a lot of audio glasses we've tried in the past is that they do a reasonably good job of hiding away the tech, but you still know they're tech-packed specs. That isn't the case with the Vue Lite 2. They really do just feel and look like a normal pair of glasses.
There's charging points, microphones, speakers and controls packed in here, but they're well concealed and even at 25g, that added hardware doesn't weigh heavy when they're on.
Vue offers the Lite 2 in a 15 different configurations covering a bunch of frame looks, including low bridge frames to make sure there should be a good fit for most. We opted for the Columba frames pictured, with tortoise frames and were able to pick up prescription lenses preinstalled, which meant we could wear them as regular glasses, but that does push the price up closer to the ¬£300/$300 mark.
You do also have the option to pick them up with standard lenses or with blue light filter lenses, but again, that will impact on how much you're going to pay for them.
On the top of each of the arms, you'll find two touch sensitive areas that act as your controls so you can deliver taps and to handle playing/pausing music, skipping tracks, activating your phone's smart assistant, answering and hanging up calls. The responsiveness of those controls is mixed. For playing and pausing music, they seemed to work fine, but triple tapping to skip tracks definitely felt more temperamental for us.
The other side of those touch controls are where you'll find the noise cancelling microphones though again, they're discreetly hidden underneath the frames. They're on board to help deliver clear quality with directional speakers further back as opposed to the bone conduction tech used on the Vue Pro glasses, to deliver audio in the direction of your ears.
On the durability front, the acetate frames have been slapped with an IPX5 water and sweat resistance rating, which means it can handle some low pressure water jet spraying and essentially means it should hold up with a little water splashing.
All of the lens options carry a UV protection and an anti-scratch and anti-reflective coating to make sure those lenses are fit to go the distance too. Over our month of testing, we've seen no signs that these glasses aren't just as well built as a regular pair of glasses.
Vue also includes a pretty normal carrying pouch for them, a microfiber lens cloth to give them a clean and a proprietary charging cable to power them up.
In terms of getting them set up, it's a simple case of pairing them up to your chosen device like you would a regular pair of Bluetooth headphones. You'll need to get them into pairing mode first, which requires pressing and holding down on one or both touch controls. We had no problem pairing them up with an Android phone, iPhone and MacBook. Unlike the Vue Pro glasses though, there's no companion app to take advantage of basics like customising controls or adjusting volume along with the richer non-audio features available to Pro users.
Vue Lite 2: Audio performance and features
As mentioned, the Lite doesn't get all of the features you get on the Vue Pro glasses and it's mainly just about streaming your audio and dealing with calls. As far as how well it does that, well, we'd say it's not hugely different from what we've experienced on audio glasses previously.
From a connectivity point of view, it was all fine on that front. We didn't experience any annoying drop outs using them across a range of devices, though it doesn't seem you can pair to more than one device at the same time, which isn't a dealbreaker, but it would've been a nice addition to have.
In terms of that sound quality you can expect, the Lite 2 don't blast you with bass or roar with power. The directional speakers offer reasonably clear, but quite lacklustre audio for music streaming. It's a better fit for calls or listening to podcasts where they seem most beneficial, but you could get better sound from a cheap set of bone conduction headphones or standard headphones. The top volume still feels pretty low and with a setup that's essentially placing speakers in close proximity to your ears, there is leakage to contend with too.
If you're on your own at home and want to use them for calls, then they're a nice fit. If you're listening to music indoors or outside and in busy environments, then it becomes more of a challenge to use them in a way that doesn't become a nuisance for others and means you're sharing your sounds with others.
The one smart feature you do get here is the ability to take pictures from your smartphone camera from the glasses. You'll need to triple tap the touch controls and have your phone open to the camera app to do it. It works with Android and iPhones and we used it with the former with no major problems. Once you get the hang of the triple taps, it's a useful alternative to way to take some snaps.
Vue Lite 2: Battery life
Vue doesn't break new ground in terms of the kind of battery life you can expect to get from its latest specs. It doesn't share details on the battery capacity on board, but you can expect to get up to 4 hours of music of playback with 20 hours in standby mode.
To put that into context with other audio glasses, Bose offers 5.5 hours from its latest specs, Amazon's Echo Frames manage just an hour and the Fauna Audio Glasses match that 4 hours. So it's delivering there and thereabouts what you get from other glasses and that's exactly what we experienced using them throughout the day listening to music and handling some calls.
When you hit 0%, you'll need to reach for the magnetic charging cable, which is the proprietary kind, but does support quick charging to get you back up to those full 4 hours in just 10 minutes.
- Looks like a normal pair of stylish glasses
- Comfortable to wear
- Option for preinstalled prescription lenses
- Not great sound for listening to music
- No features outside of streaming
- Slightly fiddly touch controls