Judie and I bought Google Glass a few months ago. We enjoyed taking pictures and shooting video with them, but post-CES 2014 we sold ours. The reason? Glass is fun and innovative, but it’s not ready for prime time. My Samsung Galaxy S5 and Gear 2 are. Yes, Gear is Google Glass without the glasshole. Here are nine reasons why.
Google Glass is a cool way to take pictures, shoot video, get onscreen notifications presented to you on the go, and much more.
You can take pictures by winking, and you can use voice prompts to send messages and to control various phone functionality. The Samsung Gear 2 is a great way to take pictures, shoot video, get onscreen notifications presented to you by simply looking down at your wrist. You can take pictures or shoot video by tapping a button on the watch, and you can use the S Voice functionality to send messages and control a host of different phone functions. There is much that Google’s and Samsung’s wearables share in common even if Gear 2 is limited to a subset of Samsung phones and devices, while Glass works with most any Android phone and even works with the iPhone (in a crippled manner). Still…
Gear 2 shatters Glass in just about every way.
Reason #1. The Glasshole Factor
Let’s just get this out of the way. There’s a reason the term Glasshole has stuck. When wearing Glass, you cannot help but look like a total dork … or worse. Judie wore her Glass when she, Kevin, and I went off-roading in Aruba. It was a cool way to capture the drive (with Kev making sure I NEVER got into the lead), but it was just us, the guide, and a couple of other strangers there. I had fun walking through the Old City of Jerusalem and capturing it with Glass, but I was wearing them for a reason. In both cases we took off Glass as soon as we didn’t have a reason to wear it. Why? Because you look like an ass when you don’t. In fact, we didn’t take our Glass out a single time at CES 2014. Not once! Yes, we saw Glass being used, but each time we saw someone wearing it we rolled our eyes, smirked at each other, and ultimately were glad we’d had the good judgement to leave the device in the hotel safe.
Come on, admit it! Every time you see someone wearing Glass, you cringe just a bit inside and subconsciously draw back in horror. With Gear, that simple doesn’t happen. It looks like a watch, because it is a watch. In fact, it happens to be a good-looking watch, and it offers almost the same functionality as Glass.
All the functionality without being “that guy” or “that girl”. That’s what the Gear 2 offers.
Reason #2: Watches can be worn everywhere; Glass will NEVER be ubiquitous.
No one in their right mind is going to go into a gym wearing Glass. It simply isn’t appropriate. That means once you walk into the gym, you lose all the notification functionality of Glass. In fact, Glass is inappropriate to wear in more places than it is appropriate; you wouldn’t want to wear Glass to the gym, to the movie theater, to the doctor’s office, to your child’s playground or school, nor would you want to wear it on a date. The Gear is something you can and will wear pretty much all the time. The Neo I bought looks like a nice sports watch. It is light, unassuming and looks great.
Reason #3: Glass is a delicate flower that needs to be treated gently; the Gear 2 is a tough piece of kit that’s meant to be used.
The frames of Glass are titanium, but the electronics are encased in plastic and the prism is glass. The entire time I was using Glass, I found myself trying to be as careful as possible so my investment would be safe. The included protective bag was nice, but when I was packing the Glass for my trip to Israel I was super careful lest they be crushed in my bag. And when the weather got bad on the Golan Heights, I was quick to take Glass off and put it in a bag lest it got wet. That’s right, despite what Robert Scoble claims, Glass is intended for good-weather use only.
Apropos of nothing, Judie and I saw Scoble wearing Glass at the Linkin Park Concert Harman threw at CEs 2014, and it reinforced our decision to keep ours at the hotel.
It is an entirely different story with the Samsung Gear 2. Samsung makes it clear that the device is meant to be used and abused. Gear has an IP67 rating. That means it is protected against dust and can even be immersed in water less than 1m. That’s why Samsung notes, “you don’t have to feel limited by rough conditions or unpredictable weather.” Sure, I still want to be careful when wearing Gear, but I don’t need to baby it the way I did Glass.
Reason #4: Glass is for the rich super-geek; the Gear isn’t.
The Glass Explorer Edition, which is just a glorified way of saying “BETA version”, costs a whooping $1500.
And it needs to be treated with kit gloves. Honestly, the only reason Judie and I were willing to drop that kind of coin was because we knew we would get back most of it when we sold them on eBay, and we did! At $1500, Glass in an indulgence that is for the very few. Until the price comes way down, it will remain that way.
Gear isn’t inexpensive, but at a price that starts at $200 for the Gear 2 Neo, it is far more accessible.
Reason #4: The battery life on the Glass is horrific; the battery life on Gear is actually rather decent.
Google Glass gets exceptionally short battery life. If you are using it to shoot video, you can expect to get an hour or two at best. There’s a reason Judie and I both spent much of our Glass-time looking even more stupid because we had a USB cable running from Glass down to an external battery in our gear bags or pockets. As if Glass alone isn’t dorky enough, we had to have Glass+Cable if we hoped to avoid running out of steam mid-activity.
Gear runs all day and still has about 80 percent battery life. I’ll have to do some serious testing but, best as I can tell, that means I’ll get at least a few days of runtime per charge as opposed to just a few hours with Google Glass. Glass is a fun thing to toy with; Gear is actually intended to be used.
Reason #5: Glass is a distraction, and it offers guaranteed headaches; the Gear is a watch.
If you have tried Glass, then you know that in order to use it you need to look up and to the right a bit so your eye catches the small screen. This gave both Judie and me headaches initially and, even after using it for a bit, cause some eye strain after relatively short periods of time. Because it is on your wrist, Gear is a isn’t always in your face, and it won’t give you a headache. It is simply brought up when needed to see what is on the screen, and it is only there when you want it to be. Gear is an “on-demand” device; Glass, on the other hand, inserts itself whenever it wants.
Reason #6: If you like music, you’ll hate Glass but love Gear.
Glass comes with a single earbud. You can, however, spend even more money and purchase stereo headphones. From there you can stream music from your device to Glass and listen on the go … or at least until the battery runs out that is. The quality of the sound is at best, meh. Gear, on the other hand, is a stand-alone music player thanks to 4GB of onboard storage. You simply download music to Gear and pair it with your favorite Bluetooth wireless headphones, and you’ll soon be enjoying your music; depending upon the quality of your headphones, you will get great audio and you won’t even need to have your phone with you.
Reason #7: Glass makes you look like a moron; Gear helps you get fit and look better.
Glass isn’t intended as a health and fitness device. Sure, it can display your steps if you use your phone as a pedometer, but Glass isn’t designed to help you get and stay fit. Gear is. In fact, it is intended to be a “Personalized Fitness Manager”. As Samsung notes,
Gear provides personalized real-time information on the progress and results of your workout by deploying the device’s optical heart rate sensor. Personalized and adaptive next workout recommendation will help you to exercise according to your individual needs.
When you consider that purchasing a Jawbone Ups, Fitbit, Nike Fuel, or other health gadgets will be a minimum of $100, the health functionality built into Gear alone covers much of the initial expense.
Reason #8: Glass won’t control your media; Gear will.
One of the neat tricks built into Gear is an IR blaster and remote functionality. That means you can use your watch to control many of the media devices you enjoy. For example, I no longer need to have my remote on hand if I want to change the channel or volume on the Samsung TV in my home study. Gear takes its place in a rather simple and convenient way.
Reason #9: Glass comes in a number of colors, and changing the frames will cost you a fortune; changing the look of Gear is free or just a few dollars.
Google now offers different color frames for Glass. Each will cost you a small fortune, and each requires serious effort to move the electronics from one frame to another. Gear has a gorgeous color screen that can change wallpaper, display, and clock design with the push of a few buttons. In seconds, you get a device that looks entirely different. And if you want further customization, you can buy a new watch band and swap yours out. There are currently four different bands available for Gear, and while you do have to purchase them, they are a lot cheaper than new Glass frames.
Is Gear perfect? No. It is limited to a select number of Samsung devices, the battery life leaves much to be desired, it uses a unique charging cradle, and it is still pricey. Then again, Gear 2 is substantially cheaper than Google Glass, and can you really put a price on NOT being a Glasshole?