Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses. Photo: AFP
It might have arrived six months later than planned and with a price tag double that originally quoted, but the company that builds headsets and heads-up displays for the military has beaten Google in becoming the first to officially launch a smart headset for consumers.
Vuzix first demonstrated the M100 headset at CES 2013 and promised that it would cost $500 when it rolled out in the summer.
However although it will arrive in time to be a stocking filler come Christmas morning, the finished headset will set you back $1000, which is expensive but is still $500 less than Google charges developers and explorers for the privilege of testing its pre-production smart headset, Google Glass.
So, what does $1000 buy you? A lightweight device that can be worn over either eye, that connects to an Android smartphone via Bluetooth and gives the wearer the sensation of looking at a 4-inch HD screen from a distance of about 30cm -- i.e., like holding and viewing a smartphone at arm's length.
The device has a 5-megapixel camera for taking stills photos and can also record full HD video which it can save to 4GB of built in storage or to an additional MicroSD card.
It uses four side-mounted buttons that the wearer can use for taking calls or launching apps plus a built-in speaker, microphone and sensors such as GPS. However, at six hours on standby or two hours of heavy use, battery life isn't brilliant.
Still, the company can claim to be the first to market, but whether or not it will appeal to consumers in general, rather than businesses, is another matter.
Available in white or grey, the M100 headset is on sale now via the Vuzix site for $999.99; but get those orders in quick as if the gadget is meant as a Christmas gift, there's a two-to-four-week wait.