These new AR smartglasses bet big on audio and ChatGPT and start at $199

SEP 27, 2023

Solos launched its new AirGo3 smartglasses on Wednesday and these third-generation augmented reality glasses offer a unique approach to connected eyewear with a heavy emphasis on audio features, comfort, usability, modular design, and a very approachable price.

Starting at $199 and scaling up to $299 -- even with prescription lenses and/or photochromatic lenses that darken into sunglasses when you go outside -- the AirGo3 are a pair of AR glasses that are very easy to set up and use.

I've been trying a pair of the AirGo3s for about a week ahead of today's launch and I was impressed with the audio quality, the usability of the companion app, the number of smart features, and how much tech was packed into what appears from the outside to be a very normal set of glasses. They also look nice -- with a variety of styles to choose from -- and are comfortable to wear.

While the AirGo3 are AR glasses, there's no heads up display screen in the glasses like the infamous Google Glass. All of the technology is packed into the arms on the sides of frames and then the arms are both attached to the front frame via USB-C connectors in each arm so that it's easy to swap out different styles of front frames and lenses. Solos calls this unique system its SmartHinge, and it's one of the most innovative aspects of the product.

In an interview with ZDNET, Kenneth Fan, Solos co-founder, said that the company started its product journey to AR glasses with a heads-up display but eventually wanted to create a product that was affordable, comfortable, and first-and-foremost an excellent eyewear product. The team also discovered that there were a ton of features they could build around audio. Fan acknowledged that a heads-up display will likely be part of the product in the future when display technology advances.

Trying on Solos AirGo3 smartglasses
The Solos AirGo3 smartglasses could easily pass for normal glasses.

The AirGo3 also don't have cameras like Meta's Ray-Ban Smart Glasses. However, both products load plenty of technology into what ostensibly look and feel like your everyday glasses. That's a key step forward for smartglasses.

The standout features in the AirGo3 are:

  • 100 decibel speakers on each side
  • Live translation uses AI to translate conversations from a language you don't know
  • Ask ChatGPT questions with your voice and get audio responses
  • Audio reads of your text messages and calendar events in real time
  • Take phone calls
  • Activity and fitness tracking
  • Posture correction
  • 10 hours of music playback or 7 hours of call time
  • Blue light filtering on all lenses to reduce digital eye strain
  • IP67 waterproof
  • Weigh just 30g
  • App works with iPhone or Android

ZDNET's buying advice (for now)

This is not a review of the Solos AirGo3 since I haven't spent enough time with the product to offer full buying advice. There's a lot I like. I also struggled at times to activate the chat and translation features. And, I don't love that there's a $10/month subscription to unlock some advanced features.

Nevertheless, I dig how comfortable these smartglasses are, the blue light filtering is great, the speakers and sound quality are solid, and they feel like a nice step on the journey to smartglasses that will bring us more ambient computing so that we don't have to spend as much time looking at our phones and other screens.

If you'd like to do activity tracking without having to wear a smartwatch or a fitness band and you'd like to replace your earbuds with something a little more natural and less socially isolating, then the AirGo3 could be a nice option for you.

If you do a lot of travel to foreign countries where you don't always speak the language then the live translation feature could be really helpful. I was very surprised at how accurate it was in my tests where I played a YouTube video in Chinese (with the subtitles on the screen) and the AirGo3 translated it very accurately, with only a slight delay. In my case, I read the translations in the app rather than having the glasses speak the translations.

The best thing about the AirGo3 may be the $199 price tag. They don't have as strong of a brand name as the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses, but they cost less and have fewer privacy concerns. If you're interested in exploring the future of smartglasses or simply making your glasses smarter (for roughly the same price of getting new glasses frames), the AirGo3 are a fun place to start.

- Jason Hiner