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Tech Talk Reviews: Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses

Last Updated: May 17, 2024
In this latest edition of Tech Talk Reviews, Boardroom reviews the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses and how the updated device captures content in different environments.

This story is part of Tech Talk Reviews, a series highlighting tech reporter and digital creator Michelai Graham’s experience testing new tech gadgets, emerging platforms, apps, games, and more. Find more reviews here.

The Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses have been on the market for about five months, but the second-generation device is outpacing its predecessor, and for good reason: It’s a much better upgrade.

In this latest edition of Tech Talk Reviews, I tell you everything you need to know about the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses and how I used them in different environments.

The Specifics

(Photo courtesy of Audrey Blackmore)

Meta announced the release of the second generation of Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses during Meta Connect in September 2023. Meta Connect is the Big Tech giant’s two-day virtual summit focused on AI and virtual, mixed, and augmented realities. Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the new device during a keynote, which was developed in collaboration with EssilorLuxottica, a company that owns eyewear brands and retailers, including Ray-Ban, Oakley, EyeMed, LensCrafters, and Sunglass Hut.

The second generation of the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses, which hit shelves on Oct. 17, 2023, didn’t just get a new look and higher quality; they also got a new name and design. The first iteration of the smart glasses was known as Ray-Ban Stories, but that version was discontinued in November 2023 after about two years on the market. The device’s successor improves on all core features, which include open-ear audio and the ability to capture photos and videos with the click of a small button on the glasses.

The smart glasses feature directional audio, two custom ope-ear speakers, extended bass, and a higher maximum volume that allows users to listen to music, answer phone calls, or even listen to podcasts more comfortably in any environment. The glasses also feature five microphones, including two in the left arm, two in the right arm, and one near the nose pad.

(Photo courtesy of Audrey Blackmore)

The newest and most unique addition to the glasses is Meta AI, a feature that lets users leverage AI to find out more information about the images they take, take photos and create captions, translate words viewed in environments, and much more. Users can also tap into the conversational assistant to make calls and send messages hands-free by using the “Hey Meta” command. Ultimately, this new offering lets users control features using their voices.

Meta reduced the weight and slimmed down the profile of their new smart glasses compared to the previous version, and the device is now water-resistant. The second-generation Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses come in two designs: Headliner, which features a rounded, more retro aesthetic, and Wayfarer, which features the classic Ray-Ban look. The device comes in an array of colors with a shiny or matte finish, including black, caramel, and a bluish jean color. The lenses come in clear, green, brown, black, blue, red, and amber, and some are polarized. Meta also developed the smart glasses to be prescription-lens compatible. Users can customize their frames and lenses on the Ray-Ban Remix platform.

As for the cameras, there are two featured on each corner of the glasses, one being an ultra-wide camera. The glasses can capture endless photos and videos up to 60 seconds. Video length is set to 30 seconds by default, but this default can be shortened to 15 seconds or extended to a minute. Users can tap into the “send a photo” voice command to share images with contacts directly. Another cool feature: users can live stream from the glasses straight to Facebook or Instagram and see comments in preview or hear them out loud via using a Meta AI voice command.

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The Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon AR1 Gen1 Platform, which was built exclusively for smart glasses that capture photo and video content. When it comes to battery life, Meta redesigned the charging case for the glasses, which can hold up to 36 hours of use. The charging case is USB-C compatible. Another power source for the smart glasses is the Meta View app. All content captured on the smart glasses can be downloaded and viewed in the app, which is downloadable on smartphone devices. Users need the app to set up Bluetooth capabilities with the device, and the app can be used to update settings and navigate other features of the glasses.

The Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses cost $299 to $379 and are available for purchase on Meta and Ray-Ban’s websites.

Michelai’s Review

(Photo courtesy of Audrey Blackmore)

I spent the past month playing around with my smart glasses and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the experience. I have the Wayfarer design in black matte with black lenses. They are the standard frame size, but this version and all other versions also come with large frames at request.

For starters, I love how simple the branding is on the glasses. My favorite part is that they have the classic Ray-Ban logo in the corner of the right lens and on both arms. On the exterior, it doesn’t have a Meta logo anywhere, but it can be found on the interior on the right side where the frame and arm meet. On the opposite side in the same area lives the on/off switch. It’s very small and subtle, and truthfully, I often forget to power my glasses off, yet they still keep a good charge since they are in my charging case when I’m not wearing them.

The arms of the glasses are, of course, a little thicker than your typical glasses arms, but that’s because that’s where the bulk of the tech lives. I was surprised by how sleek the frames were, even with the camera positioned in the corner. The speakers are virtually undetectable, and I like that, yet the audio is very clear. Another favorite aspect of the smart glasses for me is that I can hear different commands when I snap a photo and start a video. The classic lens flutter sound is used for photo capture, and the video start and end sound is a subtle ding.

I’ve used my glasses in various environments throughout New York, including the subway, crowded bars, outside in the daylight and at night, inside coffee shops, at the office, at brunch, and many more places. The photo and video quality was top-tier when I was shooting in natural lighting or bright lighting.

If you didn’t know, the subway has the best lighting for an impromptu photo shoot. Check out these images of my beautiful friend, Yesenia Ramos, captured by the train and inside a crowded subway with my smart glasses.

Going back to the open audio, it’s truly a treat to be able to hear sound with the glasses on, though I’m sure others around me could hear my sound too, which wasn’t the most ideal. Unlike open audio earbuds, the smart glasses sort of create a mini surround sound experience for its user, which is both great yet sometimes unwanted when I want to answer private calls with other people around. Plus, no one wants to be that person awkwardly playing loud music or audio on the subway — at least, I don’t want to be that person.

An interesting observation I noticed: When I was recording video content, I could take the glasses off and the recording would continue going. I subconsciously did this in the middle of recording to pass the glasses to a friend, and we were able to capture the seamless transition, which was impressive. When it comes to audio, on the other hand, the glasses would pause whatever I was listening to or doing on my phone when I removed the glasses from my face.

Aside from that, my main critique is the fact that the quality of content goes way down in low light, as expected. The glasses aren’t equipped with any flashes, but maybe we can expect that upgrade in the next iteration. The quick solution my friends and I found was to raise a camera flashlight, which created some interesting lighting effects.

Overall, I loved testing out this product, and I’ll likely continue using the glasses to capture content. While I mainly used the glasses around New York, I’ll be taking my Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses on vacation soon, and I’m excited to capture the tropical and warm environments around me.

As always, I hope you learned something new from my experience with this new tech device. I’ll have more reviews coming soon.

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Michelai Graham

Michelai Graham is Boardroom's resident tech and crypto reporter. Before joining 35V, she was a freelance reporter with bylines in AfroTech, HubSpot, The Plug, and Lifewire, to name a few. At Boardroom, Michelai covers Web3, NFTs, crypto, tech, and gaming. Off the clock, you can find her producing her crime podcast, The Point of No Return.