I’ve had the echo Frames third generation from Amazon for a couple weeks now, and I can confidently say they have changed the way I go about my day to day life. When you haven’t yet lived with something, it’s hard to understand living with it. If you were to tell me, well, you have Alexa wherever you are, I wouldn’t really grasp that, as generally speaking I haven’t lived with Alexa in a wearable. As I have now done so, I don’t think before asking Alexa something. It’s become, automatic.
The cake though, for me really, is having all audio from my iPhone going through the glasses. No longer do I have to worry that I’m annoying others with my screen reader, worry that they understand what it is saying, or having the volume low, hold the phone incorrectly up to my ear, and then fear that I am drawing even more attention to myself as someone who is already blind. I had purchased a pair of Aftershocks bone conduction headphones about 6 months ago. I didn’t feel them truly comfortable, and they did mess with my spacial awareness just a little, but enough to realize I was though faithful in waring them whenever I was outside my house.
The tradeoff was being able to hear my phone as mentioned above. I could tell, though, that unfortunately they did draw unnecessary attention to me. I was asked several times if they were hearing aids? It gave me an opportunity to explain them, which was cool, but again, unnecessary if I wasn’t in the mood. I feel waring glasses take this question out of the equation. Also, I have all spacial awareness back, and they are very comfortable.
In saying all of that, are these glasses perfect, or as good as the next generation? Probably not, but I truly can’t find many flaws in them. Now that we have the prologue out of the way, let’s get to the review.
In Amazon style, this is done very nicely. You don’t have to build the frames or anything. Just take the packing paper off of the temples, or sides. They also come with a leather case which comes folded up. The case works such as, when it is folded you can travel with it as you ware the glasses. The case folds flat. You open the case and pull out the corners, and this opens the case up in which you may store the glasses. The case has a flap which is magnetic, store the glasses inside, and snap the case closed with a satisfying snap. They ship with a charger, and USB A to C charging cable.
The charger is interesting, and I feel the process could be more accessible. For example, if the glasses stayed connected via Bluetooth to let you know they were charging, or if the charging unit connected via Bluetooth, or beeped, this would have helped my initial trust in the process. Also, how the glasses fit into the charger was a mystery to me until it was explained. Here’s how I now think about it.
The charger is a small unit which I think of as similar to a wireless charging pad. The reason for this is that the charger doesn’t have any metal points, plates, etc. The glasses don’t have any ports, or anything that you may feel that you would say, yes, this is used for charging. In saying this, the charging unit is not flat. Moving from back to front, so as the back of the charger is away from you, there is a USB C port on the back bottom. Moving up from this, I’ll call it slanted wall, Which slants towards you. When you get to the top of the wall, and you allow your fingers to drop over the side, your fingers fall into a small horizontal well. As you pull your fingers out of this well on the peace of the device most towards you, you find that it feels like a nose. This makes sense as we are talking about glasses. This is the front of the charger, most towards you.
How do the glasses fit into the charger?
Lets start by opening the glasses up, so that the sides are in either hand, the lenses are in front of you. Lets now close the glasses, left arm first. The lenses are still in front of you, and the glasses are folded up. Now, tilt the glasses so the arms are on the bottom, lenses are facing the sealing. Now, turn them around, so that the nose peace is towards you. This, is how they drop into the charger. The nose peace fits around the nose peace on the front of the charger. The rest of the glasses in front of the back wall inside the charger.
So, how do you know they are charging? You don’t, really. The sides do get a bit warm and it may be a good indicator. I feel it is now appropriate to say that it is normal that the glasses don’t fold up as tight as conventional glasses do. Does this mean they are big and bulky because they house electronics? No, it doesn’t.
What do the glasses look like? I believe they come in different colors, shapes etc. I have black ones, and they have been compared to look like Ray Bans. I truly think they look normal, not like they house electronics.
They feel? Comfortable. Light weight. On the right arm, you have two small buttons which allow you to control the features of the glasses. On the left arm you have a small rocker switch which controls volume.
How do they fit? Pretty good. They do slide down the nose just a bit, and if I am looking down at all, I do need to push them back up on my face, but I do not feel like they are going to fall off my face.
You can easily wear headphones over the glasses. Depending on the headphones, this may cause the ends of the ear pieces to dig into your head a little. Why would you want to ware headphones with them? If for example you are working and using JAWS on headphones, and want to be connected to Alexa, and your smartphone. When you are wearing headphones, you can turn down the volume of the glasses, which will save battery.
So, how is battery life? I would have to say, exceptional. I can get a day plus out of them before charging. This is perfect for using with Voiceover. To check the battery status, ask Alexa, “what’s my battery status?” Also, you can check in the batteries widget on your iPhone.
Sound quality? I feel it may be wrong to have an expectation here before we use them. Knowing that the battery is as great as it is, and they are as lightweight as they are, the audio isn’t going to be big, but it is nice. I can compare them to the Aftershocks. They are clearer, and no out of faze audio as you get with the Aftershocks. The glasses don’t use bone conduction, the speakers are just close to your ears. No bass, good mids and treble. Audio at times sounds like it’s coming from above you, which can be just a bit trippy depending on what you are listening to. If you are in a quiet room, the volume does get loud without it being compressed/limited as you increase levels, which is really nice.
There isn’t a noise floor between when Voiceover speaks. When the glasses cycle off/on to save battery life, you can’t at all hear it. This is impressive. When the microphones are active you do hear a slight buzzing, almost sounds like USB Bus noise, but I’ll take it over something present all the time, or pops when they cycle off/on. It’s a very nice listening experience.
The only other downfall for me besides the charging is Audio leakage, and that when you are in loud environments, the glasses audio gets pretty unusable pretty quickly. You can have them at 100% and not hear the audio. Loud restaurants with sports playing make this happen quick, so if you are going to be in a louder spot, bring Air pods or another way to listen.
All and all, I love these frames. If your phone has a good network connection, Alexa is pretty quick to respond. They are comfortable. The audio is good. I have only had them for two weeks, and being without them, I feel a bit lost like I’m lacking. I don’t think I could ask for a lot more than an accessible charging experience.
Find audio examples to hear what the glasses sound like below the review text at the external link provided below.