TSmart street glasses may be far from useful, or even sought after, but glasses that double as headphones are getting thinner, lighter and more beautiful. Now, the Austrian firm Fauna wants to beat Bose at its own game.
Fauna audio glasses are available in a range of models with clear and tinted lenses starting at £ 199 (€ 199 / $ 199) – pictured here in transparent Spiro brown – and unlike some competitors, they can be fitted with prescription lenses. and adjusted to your head by an optician.
As Bose proved with its early frames, the big advantage of having speakers in glasses is situational awareness. You don’t need headphones to block out the world when you have the outdoor sound of tiny speakers next to your ears, which means you can still hear traffic, bikes, birds and birds. bees when you walk around.
Fauna glasses have the correct basics. They look good. The temples are noticeably smaller than Bose frames and only a little larger than regular glasses. They weigh only 15g more than a pair of sunglasses. They’re comfortable to wear for long periods of time, are resistant to rain, and don’t look like a piece of tech strapped to your face.
They also don’t try to do too much: there’s no camera, no always-on voice assistant or screen.
Fauna also borrowed ideas from real wireless headphones. There is no cable connecting each side of the glasses; instead, each rod connects directly to your phone via Bluetooth, and the case doubles as a charger on the go.
Remove the glasses from the case and they automatically connect to your phone. They last up to four hours of music playback or 12 hours of standby time, while the case can charge the glasses four times.
The Fauna sounds great for open-ear headphones, significantly better than bone conduction and similar techniques at about the same level as the Bose Frames. They produce an open and airy sound by design, with fairly detailed highs and mids, but a complete lack of bass. They don’t sound thin, but they lack the fullness of sound you might expect from a good set of headphones. This is because you always need bigger speakers or a good seal in your ear for that kind of audio quality.
Set at 40%, they are loud enough to be listened to indoors and get very loud at maximum volume, which is necessary when walking along a busy road. They play sound, but only people sitting nearby will be able to hear the music if they are kept below 40% of the volume.
There is something very nice about a little background music to stroll through the park in the sunshine while still being able to hear the cries of the London ring-necked parakeets above and the thud and the joy of the children playing football in the distance.
The call quality is very good, with a clear and natural voice in quiet environments and with little background noise in noisier places. Note that the microphone is only activated during a call or when speaking to your phone’s voice assistant.
Fauna estimates that the glasses batteries will retain at least 80% of their original capacity for 500 full charge cycles. The battery in the case will retain at least 60% of its original capacity after 500 cycles.
The frames and lenses of the Fauna glasses are replaceable, but the temples cannot be repaired and the batteries cannot be replaced, making them ultimately disposable. The housing can be disassembled but Fauna does not offer repair services.
The glasses do not contain any recycled material and Fauna does not operate an exchange or recycling program in the UK. The company does not publish environmental impact studies.
There’s no way to turn them off without the case, so you can’t just put them on without turning them on.
The glasses speak to you in the third person to let you know they are on, when connected, or in pairing mode.
On a few occasions, the glasses refused to reconnect to a phone, requiring forced repair.
The Fauna audio glasses are available in clear and tinted lenses starting at £ 199 (€ 199) with the Spiro Transparent Brown tested.
For comparison, Bose frames cost £ 239.95, Apple’s AirPods cost £ 159, and Google’s Pixel Buds A-Series cost £ 99.99.
The Fauna audio glasses are a stylish set of sunglasses with built-in speakers for outdoor listening.
They sound good for what they are, are well designed and comfortable, last up to four hours, charge in their case, and are not much different from a regular pair of glasses. An optician can also change glasses and reshape the frame of your face.
But like other audio glasses, they can’t beat a set of headphones on sound, and their main advantage – being able to hear the world around you – makes them hard to hear on busy streets.
The glasses are not repairable and the batteries cannot be replaced, however, which ultimately makes them disposable and loses a star.
Advantages: music without plugging your ears or making noise to others, good appearance, choice of lenses and mounts, comfortable, good sound, strong bluetooth connection, excellent call quality, charge just in case.
The inconvenients: will never be your only set of earphones, can not match the earphones for sound, can not protect from outside world noise, can not be repaired or replace the battery.