Hands on: Epson Moverio BT-300 review

Epson's new eyewear goes big on augmented reality

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

Epson has refined its eyewear range, offering a lighter and better-looking package. It's still not clear, however, whether the glasses will appeal to consumers, business user or both.

For

  • Good-looking design
  • Lightweight
  • Decent processing power

Against

  • App ecosystem still light
  • Augmented reality out of favor

With Google Glass taking a break from perching on the nose of tech enthusiasts, there is an opening for a new smart spectacle upstart and Epson has its eyes on the prize.

The Epson Moverio BT-300 is the third iteration of the company's smart eyeglass lineup. It comes with a new lightweight form factor - 20% lighter than the BT-200 range - that has a 'Google' feel and is equipped with an OLED display, which projects an image in front of the eyes that feels around 80 inches in size.

All of this is powered by a Intel Atom X5 processor and Android 5.1.

Epson Moverio BT 300

Using this processor means that the Epson Moverio BT-300 is able to render 3D a lot better and recognise more objects in its peripheral vision. All of this makes for more realistic AR.

Look and feel

In my time with the device, I found that the augmented reality functionality was decent. There was a couple of demos we tried - once was of a painting that magically came to life as we looked at it, and another was a simulation of controlling a drone.

The drone part was really interesting - fake piloting a drone and getting to see what it was seeing was pretty cool, as was the flipping between first and third person.

Epson Moverio BT 300

The glasses were pretty comfortable, too. They are definitely light and compared to the previous iterations of Epson's glasses, they are super thin and actually don't look 'that' stupid.

They are very Google Glass, though. Epson has definitely taken design ideas from Google, while adding its own industrial twist, before the search giant decided to put its Glass production on hold.

Battery life

Battery life on the eyewear is a cool six hours which is plenty of time, given that you won't want to wear the Moverios all of the time.

Epson Moverio BT 300

The problem Epson has is its reliance on third-party augmented app makers. It's a big problem with AR in general. It may have been around longer than the current virtual reality headsets, but there's not been much of a demand for software.

This is a shame, because when it works well - map overlays for cyclists, for example - augmented reality shines but there's just not enough reason to get AR glasses at the moment.

Epson hopes to remedy this with the inclusion of some business-focused AR ideas, including virtual instruction manuals.

There's also camera functionality on board. So if you get bored with augmented the world around you, you can snap away at unsuspecting bystanders - a feature that caused quite a bit of controversy when it was introduced in Google Glass.

Epson Moverio BT 300

Early verdict

It's three times the charm for Epson. It has managed to create some smart eyewear that can not only match Google Glass in the looks department, but functionality wise as well.

The issue is: with Google seemingly out of the augmented reality game, is there still an appetite for this technology? Epson hopes so, but I am still not so sure.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Content Team Lead

Marc (Twitter, Google+) is the content team lead for Future Technology, where he is in charge of a 14-strong team of journalists who write many of the wonderful stories that end up on TechRadar, T3.com and T3 magazine. Prior to this he was deputy editor of TechRadar, had a 10-month stint editing a weekly iPad magazine, written film reviews for a whole host of publications and has been an integral part of many magazines that are no longer with us.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.

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