Google Glass review

Explorer Edition has ceased production, but its legacy lives on

Google Glass review
Google Glass review

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New Explorers receiving Google Glass 2 as opposed to the older Google Glass are treated to a slightly different set of accessories than what the first beta testers received at the prototype's launch.

Don't feel badly for the earliest of early adopters, though. Google allowed them to upgrade to the new version of Glass for free until February 5 and all accessories are available to buy separately for a price.

Google Glass mono earbud

A mono earbud comes with Google Glass 2

New Google Glass 2 accessories

Adding to the black-and-white box is a mono earbud, enabling better sound quality when making phone calls, listening to music and watching videos. Its comfortable in-ear design features a tiny forward-facing speaker that pipes sound straight into your ear canal the same way that Apple's EarPods do. Only its nylon-coated cable is much shorter at just 3-inches and it includes a micro USB connection at the end, not a standard RCA jack. Glass won't work with all of the normal aux cables, negating the 3.5mm vs 2.5mm debate altogether.

The mono earbud fits into the same micro USB port that's located underneath the touchpad and is used to charge Glass. Its 3-inch cable size can be adjusted by retracting it into a loop behind the ear so that there's as little as 1 ½-inches of cord dangling between the earpiece and port. The twist-off cap color that's included in the box is cotton (white). Buying an extra mono earbud comes with five interchangeable caps that match each of the Google Glass colors, but it's prohibitively expensive at $50 (£40, about AU$53).

Google Glass stereo earbuds

Stereo earbuds are sold separately and are expensive

The same can be said about the even pricier stereo earbuds, not included with Glass, that are $85 (£65, about AU$90). Because stereo earbuds with auxiliary ends won't work and would be too long, these form-fitting earbuds are the best way to completely encapsulate yourself in the Google Glass experience and you're definitely going to be separated from the rest of the world with two nylon cords running out of the micro USB port. The left ear cable extends further than the right one and lays behind the neck, making you look even more like a cyborg at this point.

Google Glass sunglasses

RoboCop or Terminator?

The included mono earbud and separate stereo earbuds are new as of late October 2013. They join the existing sunglasses, tweaked for Google Glass 2, that securely lock into place between the two nose stems. These active shades effectively block all sunlight emanating from the real world around you. Peripheral light is only visible when looking out of the corners of your eyes, but your field of view is completely dimmed, including the still-very-visible Glass prism.

The question is what do you do with these almost flat-looking clip-on shades when they're not needed or you don't want to look like Robocop for a minute. They can be tucked away in an included micro-fiber slip case, but that's another accessory to always carry around.

Returning accessories

Google Glass travel case bag

All accessories are high quality, like this Japanese micro-fiber case

The same high-quality material is used in the indispensible pouch. It's Japanese micro-fiber and made from recycled material, according to Google. This soft bag fits Glass perfectly, cleans it when it's slide inside and contains a hard shell at the bottom to protect keep the prism. It's thankfully included. Ordering an extra pouch is $50 (£40, about AU$53) and may be the one thing in Google's accessory store that's worth its price.

Google Glass charger

Even the charger has cool features

Glass comes with an excellent micro USB cable and charger that features a flat cord to keep it from bunching and tangling. Its micro USB end is at a unique right angle, which stabilizes Google Glass on a flat surface. Better yet, it sports a two-tone black-and-white color scheme at each end. Explorers can easily distinguish the orientation of USB and micro USB's non-symmetrical design.

You won't be trying to fit the USB cable into the charger backwards thanks to Google's smart design idea. But you also won't want another one. The price for an extra is $50 (£40, about AU$53), which verges on double gold-plated HDMI cable territory. It's just a micro USB cable and charging block.

Normal micro USB chargers, used by Android devices, work just fine too. Google even notes that while Glass is designed and tested with the included charger, there are thousands of micro USB chargers out there that do the same basic thing.

Google Glass glasses

The clear shield doesn't come with Google Glass 2

Missing from the Google Glass 2 accessories lineup is the clear shield that came with the first prototype. It works just like the clip-on sunglasses minus the tinted lenses and makes you look like you're ready for weed whacking in the front lawn rather instead of a law enforcement from the fighter. They're still available to purchase separately for $85 (£60, about AU$90).

Matt Swider