Friday, July 19, 2024

Reviewed: Tugau smart sunglasses

Sunglasses with hands-free music and that auto-dim in bright sunlight

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Remember Google Glass? 2013’s initial must-have gadget quickly turned into a social pariah because of privacy concerns, but to some the first-ever pair of ‘smart glasses’ was music to their ears. Cue the Tugau smart sunglasses, which eight years later joins a throng of similar products that have thrown some shade(s) on a forgotten product niche. 

Now selling on Kickstarter, can this US$129 effort from Tugau with a unique feature challenge the likes of the Bose Frames and Fauna Spiro

Tugau smart sunglasses: design

Weighing 44g – exactly the same as Bose Frames – the Tugau smart sunglasses are well made, largely using TR-90 thermoplastic. They’re IP64-rated, which basically means they’re dust-proof. They come with a D-shaped case with a magnetic enclosure, but it’s of average quality, popping open far too easily. Also in the box is a USB cable and a lens cloth. 

Tugau smart sunglasses: features

The key feature – aside from the fact that music comes through their frames – is that the Tugau smart sunglasses auto-dim in 0.1 seconds. There are three levels of dimming you can choose from, with a button on the left-hand side of the frame toggling through them. There’s also an auto mode that will automatically adjust the tint level for you. Whatever level you choose, the lenses also block UV rays. 

It uses Bluetooth 5.0 to wirelessly connect to a smartphone (Android or iOS), with two small directional audio speakers embedded in the frames. There are only two buttons on the frames, yet by learning a few rules and double-clicks they can together be used to answer, hang up and reject an incoming call as well as control music playback. On our iPhone, we were also able to talk to Siri by holding down one button for one second. 

Tugau smart sunglasses: performance

Audio-wise the Tugau smart sunglasses sound OK. Much like other smart sunglasses, they perform reasonably well with spoken-word audio, podcasts, and radio, as well as with phone calls, but their small speakers obviously struggle with music. They lack bass and volume, but they keep everything personal to the wearer, which is the whole point. 

The dimming works very quickly; you just toggle a switch to cope with diferent brightnesses. However, there is a slight clustering effect, with the dimming more noticeable at the center of the wearer’s field of view.

In our test, they lasted for about four hours, which is about the same as Bose Frames. They’re easy enough to charge, with a small proprietary connector on a 30cm USB cable magnetically attaching to the frame. However, we would have preferred it to use USB-C, as everything else does now. After all, who wants to travel with a special cable? At least its charges to 80% within 20 minutes, which could be handy during a journey. 

Tugau smart sunglasses: conclusion

Would we travel in these smart sunglasses? Probably not. TravGear listens to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks, so the lack of musical prowess doesn’t particularly bother us. However, the lack of battery life does, simply because it means they can’t be relied upon for long journeys enough to ditch your existing earphones. 

That said, the Tugau smart sunglasses compare reasonably well to Bose Frames, with a good build quality and an audio performance that’s at least as good.

Price as reviewed US$129

Now selling on Kickstarter