Getting started with the Meta Ray-Ban: they seem much better than the previous ones!

Estimated read time 5 min read

Getting started with the Meta Ray-Ban: they seem much better than the previous ones!

Meta, in partnership with Ray-Ban, is launching a successor to its Stories connected glasses, which have been around for two years, even if the company does not dare to admit the link between the two.

The new pair, called Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses – note that the Stories label has disappeared – is still marketed as an object to be worn on a daily basis, capable of capturing photos and videos the way your eyes see them. Like the old version, the smart glasses integrate speakers and microphones for audio streaming and listening to the answers to all the questions that you can ask the on-board voice assistant.

What are the new features? Indeed, if there is one thing you should know about the previous version, it is that while more than 300,000 units have been sold during its almost two-year lifespan, less than 10% of these consumers still use them… The scope for improvement was therefore great.

A good surprise

It is with this in mind that I spent almost an hour with the latest Meta “wearables” before the recent Connect event, and I am happy to announce that they are much better than I expected.

I must first clarify that I wear prescription glasses every day, a pair of Ray-Ban that looks a lot like Meta’s, but without the technology. That’s why my first impression of the Meta glasses was oddly familiar! People who usually wear sunglasses should feel the same way.

Even with the cameras, the speakers and the various modules hidden under the frame – all visible thanks to a new transparent finish proposed by Meta (these connected glasses were very comfortable to wear). The Meta company tells me that it has not only reduced the size and weight of the new portable device by design, but also by using lighter and more durable materials.

Ray-Ban Smart Glasses designs

June Wan/ZDNET

A new 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera

Other major improvements include a new 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera capable of capturing sharper photos of 3024 x 4032 pixels and Full HD videos at a resolution of 1440 x 1920. Facebook Instagram Note that these two established formats for capturing portraits and sharing vertical content on Meta’s social platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram. There is also the possibility of live streaming, which you can now launch by tapping on the glasses a few times.

To emphasize the video, Meta has equipped the glasses with five microphones, one of which is cleverly placed in the bridge of the nose for optimal voice recording. The other microphones are distributed on the front and sides of the Ray-Ban and can be used to record sound at 360°.

During a private demonstration, a Meta spokesperson walked around me, while describing the new features of the glasses, which made the replay all the more immersive to watch and listen to. I think this function can be useful if you are attending a family reunion or a sports match and you want to record the different sounds coming from all directions.

An LED to protect privacy

Finally, in the interest of respecting privacy, Meta has made the flashing of the LED indicator much more visible when the glasses are recording, which everyone will be able to appreciate.

Ray Ban Meta Smart Glasses Inside

Customers will be able to configure various aspects of these glasses. June Wan/ZDNET

In addition to the aspect of capturing photos and videos, Ray-Ban’s new connected glasses are equipped with Bluetooth headphones with a very pleasant sound. The sound is much better than the Stories I tested two years ago. Meta reported that the volume was increased by 50%, and yet, thanks to the directional output, the people around me were barely able to distinguish what I was listening to with my volume set to about 60%. Of course, I was in a more open studio, with other members of the press. But as long as you don’t put the volume all the way to the library, everything will be fine.

Ray Ban Meta Smart Glasses Charging Case

June Wan/ZDNET

Before concluding, I would like to give a nod to the new charging and carrying case for connected glasses. It still serves as a wireless charger when the glasses are inserted, but it is also much thinner than the previous version. Meta claims that it is 32% lighter than the previous model, which I would like to believe, and that it should allow the glasses to recharge eight times or benefit from an additional 32 hours of autonomy.

One last thing worth noting is that Meta says that in an update next year, Ray-Ban smart glasses will become multimodal, allowing users to interact with their environment thanks to Meta’s AI. Among the demonstrations presented at the Meta Connect event, there is this tennis game where the AI/glasses are asked if the last ball is a foul or not.

ZDNET’s buying tips for Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses (for now)

The new Meta Ray-Ban connected glasses look more like traditional glasses than glassholes [surnom peu flatteur donné aux Google Glass, nda], even though their features are similar. The big question we ask ourselves at ZDNET during our tests is whether Meta has done enough for our parents, our families and our non-tech-savvy friends to wear them. This would be a great victory for a product category that has not yet managed to break through to the general public.

The fact that Meta offers the new smart glasses via the Ray-Ban remix platform, a customization service that allows users to choose their frame (Wayfarer or Headliner type), the color (including transparent ones) and the type of lenses (transitions, solar, polarizing, transparent and prescription), will certainly be useful. Depending on how you configure these glasses, the price will vary, starting from € 330.

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