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Verdict: 
Interesting, but some way to go; needs more development in version 2
Weight: 
86g
Recon Jet Black - Heads Up Display Smart Eyewear
5 10

Having followed the development of the Recon Jet computerised eyewear for a few years, I was excited about getting my hands on a set. I found a promising start to what I am sure will eventually become a fantastic technology, but at the moment is not quite at the level of polish that most people would be prepared to pay for.

The first thing to note about the Recon Jet is its looks. It's essentially a pair of open bottomed glasses with two large bits on the sides. On the right is the screen, touch pad and buttons, on the left is the battery unit. Those components add a fair amount of weight to the glasses, which come in at 86g. This extra weight is not necessarily a bad thing in many cases though as it stops much movement when wearing them.

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To help with this they also have an adjustable nosepiece and arms to help keep things secure. They are also fairly comfortable to wear for a considerable amount of time. In fact the only thing that stopped me wearing them for more than three and a half hours is the battery life. That's a significant limitation, considering that many rides will be longer than this.

As I mentioned, the main components sit on the right hand side. There is a small screen which sits in the bottom right of your vision, and is adjustable to make sure you can see it effectively. The screen itself is easy to see and I even managed to use the intelligent selective looking technology, which turns off the display when you are not looking at it.

The menus on the screen are navigated by a swipe pad also located on the right side of the glasses. It is simple to use and cycle through the apps, which include maps, compass, camera, music player and gallery as native. These are supplemented by a few third party apps such as Maple, Go Pro Remote, Refuel and VIRB.

Each of the apps works well. Music is simple to play, maps are easy to follow and the camera is a breeze to use, even when on the go at some pace. Navigation is particularly good. It's very easy to follow on the screen, much easier than glancing down at a GPS unit on your handlebars. One thing that I would change in the next iteration is the quality of the camera though, which has the same quality as a phone from maybe four or five years ago.

In addition to this it acts as a cycle computer, capable of either connecting to external ANT+ or Bluetooth devices. With its inbuilt GPS unit it does not even need to be connected to any external devices to show your speed and route. Connecting my ANT+ devices was simple and I could easily see my speed, cadence, power and heart rate on the screen, which can be modified to show what you want to see or even have several separate screens to narrow down to specific data.

This data is simple to download to a computer or phone, through either a Bluetooth connection to a phone or by connecting the unit to a computer with a USB cable. Updating or customising the unit requires the Recon Uplink software, which bridges the unit and the Recon website, which is where you actually make the changes. This process seems to add some unnecessary steps and it would certainly be more straightforward if you could simply control what you wanted to have on the unit from the app itself.

The biggest drawback of the Recon Jet at the moment is that is has not been adapted for the UK. The screen, the largest part of the glasses is on the right hand side, which makes it difficult to see behind you on the right when riding. On the Continent or in the US this would not be too much of a big deal as not much passes on the right of you, but on UK roads everything passes on that side. It meant that cycling from South London out to the countryside was done without them on, and I would only wear them when on quieter roads.

Initially they came in with an RRP of £579.99, which is expensive, especially when you consider that you can pick up a Garmin Edge 1000 for around £300. However, Recon have reduced the price to £359.99, which is rather more bearable, especially as they are such an exciting new technology.

This review may seem fairly damning to the Recon Jet, but this should not take away from a product that I believe is only the first steps into what will eventually be an exciting and practical technology. For a first generation of wearable cycling computer, it performs well, but has some drawbacks, such as camera quality, blind spots and price. This is not to say that I didn't appreciate the product, especially for navigation, which was a real step up from looking down at my handlebars to work out when I need to turn.

I need to review what is in front of me at the moment though, and what I found was a very exciting, but slightly disappointing piece of technology. I have no doubt that future models will improve on many of the issues that I found, but at present the lack of peripheral vision is something that really needs to be rethought, especially with the screen on the right hand side in the UK market. Did I enjoy using the product? Yes, but more from the excitement of what it will undoubtedly become rather than what it currently is.

Verdict

Interesting, but some way to go; needs more development in version 2

road.cc test report

Make and model: Recon Jet Black - Heads Up Display Smart Eyewear

Size tested: Black

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Recon says: "Recon Jet smart eyewear is purpose-built for active lifestyles. Featuring smartphone-class hardware and a display equipped with Glance Detection technology, Jet shows the information you need, only when you need it, so you can focus on living the moment."

I agree with much about what they say, but given that development of the Jet started in 2013, elements like the low quality camera and the size of the display (it was developed prior to the recently decommissioned Google Glass, which had a significantly smaller and easier to conceal screen) show its age. Away from cycling it would perhaps be more adept, such as running, in its present form.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

http://www.reconinstruments.com/products/jet/tech-specs/

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

It is a well made product, with buttons feeling crisp and easy to use as well and the track pad working intuitively.

Rate the product for performance:
 
6/10

Using the Jet is relatively simple and the interface is easy to use. Everything connects properly and displays well, the thing that marks it down in this category is the battery life, which could be better, the quality of the camera and the major issue are the blind spots created by the enlarged sides.

Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10

Seems well made and sturdy, plus with the ability to update the firmware through attaching it to a computer, it will stay up to date with any software improvements.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
7/10

It is hard to gauge as it is much heavier than most glasses, but most glasses aren't also computers, cameras and GPS units.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
8/10

Despite the size, it is comfortable to use. The flexibility of the nose pad combined with the arms, means that it fits well on the head.

Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

Again, this is an area that is very hard to judge. More than a cycle computer and glasses, but less than you would have paid for a Google Glass, which sold for around £1000.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

As the first of a new technology it has some exciting features that will develop well in the future. However, at present it has a few disappointing aspects, chief amongst them being the blind spots.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The apps, ease of use and especially the navigation features when using the Jet.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The blind spots created on your right side are the biggest disappointment with this product. In other countries it may not be such a big thing, but in the UK any blindspot should be limited to the left and ideally not at all.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes - It is an exciting new technology.

Would you consider buying the product? No.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? No.

Use this box to explain your score

This is the first iteration of a new technology, one that I believe will have significant impacts on cycling. However, at present there are several key areas that should be concentrated on, especially the blind spots created for the UK market.

Overall rating: 5/10

About the tester

Age: 27  Height: 6 ft  Weight:

I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Evo 6  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Under 5 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,

 

George spends his days flitting between writing about data, running business magazines and writing about sports technology. The latter gave him the impetus (excuse) to get even further into the cycling world before taking the dive and starting his own cycling sites and writing for Road.cc. 

When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.  

13 comments

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tom_w [219 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

In fact the only thing that stopped me wearing them for more than three and a half hours is the battery life. That's a significant limitation, considering that many rides will be longer than this.

The battery is swappable according to the website, so that might alleviate that a bit. I guess they've had to make a trade-off between weight and battery life.

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oceandweller [75 posts] 2 years ago
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"The blind spots created on your right side are the biggest disappointment with this product. In other countries it may not be such a big thing, but in the UK any blindspot should be limited to the left and ideally not at all."
Well, & in India, Japan, Ireland, South Africa & practically anywhere that used to be pink on the map & isn't called Canada. Almost 1/3rd of world's population live in countries that drive on the left.

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McVittees [65 posts] 2 years ago
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A bit more detail about the information presented in the screen would've been nice...maybe a screenshot if possible. Bluetooth connection to Garmin in next version perhaps?

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JonD [485 posts] 2 years ago
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McVittees wrote:

A bit more detail about the information presented in the screen would've been nice...maybe a screenshot if possible. Bluetooth connection to Garmin in next version perhaps?

I rather suspect the incorporated processing grunt makes Garmins look like the idiot child - think of it more as an android phone that's binned the large display and modem (ie telephony section), it's got a dual core Arm A9 that would have appeared in phones and tablet from a couple of year ago, tho' running slower to keep the power consumption down.

Unless Garmin adopted something other that ANT+ - which is low data rate - all the garmin would be useful for would be to push GPS coordinates and a few other stats to the wearable. To push a screen image (even with some compression/optimisation) you'd need a faster link - which Bluetooth can be, to a degree - or maybe wifi.

And you'd need Garmin to play ball - they can't even be bothered to support the stand-alone cadence sensors of other manufacturers on their Etrex/Oregon (etc) range, you have to use their combined speed/cadence sensor despite the fact that those devices can't - or more accurately, dont - do anything with the spped sensor data.

Essentially Garmin is the Microsoft (OS) of the GPS world - it's frequently a bit shit, it crashes occasionally (a mate had his Transcontinental race cut short when his Etrex binned his routes), but it's what most people use (a million lemmings etc)and is mostly better than other options, depending on what you're after. But nowadays try finding any serious computing that doesnt use Linux somewhere (the processing kernel of which also sits under Android)..one day Garmin will find it's on the back foot 'cos someone's addressing their shortfalls.

And yeah, I *do* have a Garmin - Etrex, cos it takes AAs and OSM  7

Now, if Recon can drop the price a bit, add a waterproof battery pack I can hang on my recumbent seat, and a rearward camera so I can ditch the on-glasses mirror (which is also why the loss of rearward vision on the current model wouldn't bother me)...

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Pinaman [28 posts] 2 years ago
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Good review and quiet to the point on some of the Iimitations, as an owner / wearer I'll just tag on some thoughts.

I initially worried about the blind spots, and it should be noted they say it's designed that way due to the majority of the world being right eye dominant, not what side of the road we drive on. However it is a limitation in the UK, but something you very quickly get used too by turning you head more and you could link to a rear pointing go pro if your really lazy.

In terms of the battery, at first you tend to run the battery out quicker looking at it all the time as its a novelty, but if you connect it to your phone (to use its GPs) and use it correctly you'll get longer. I now have a spare battery too and if need be take a power bar too, it automatically saves too, so no issues with a power down.

A recent update has included auto-pause which works petectly with no loss on average speed.

The two major pluses are not having to look at your stem when powering up a hill or hitting it hard on a flat and not having to faff taking gloves off to use it.

I'm usually a 2nd gen adopter but took the plunge and I'll never look back at garmin.

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rix [184 posts] 2 years ago
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I do not see a problem that this product solves... apart from that it achieves the same effect as wearing jersey with #imadick written on it  21

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fukawitribe [1945 posts] 2 years ago
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rix wrote:

I do not see a problem that this product solves...

It's a nice-to-have for those that can afford it - like most things in cycling. It's part geeky-tech as well, which appeals to quite a few people in general.

rix wrote:

apart from that it achieves the same effect as wearing jersey with #imadick written on it  21

..I feel that might say more about you than someone who chose to buy one. I won't be getting one, even if I could afford it, but if someone else wants to have a punt then fair play.

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Lamb Henry [34 posts] 2 years ago
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rix wrote:

I do not see a problem that this product solves... apart from that it achieves the same effect as wearing jersey with #imadick written on it  21

To the general public most roadies already look like a bit of adick in full Lycra (myself included), so wearing this wouldn't make much difference.

I'm techie nerd so would buy this if it were a little cheaper and had a longer battery life.

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DrJDog [421 posts] 2 years ago
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It really does seem huge compared to Google Glass.

But I do like the idea.

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Anthony.C [233 posts] 2 years ago
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If only they could make the chunky bits on the side much, much smaller or somehow built into the frame so they could pass as ordinary glasses...otherwise for ubergeeks only.

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Ghisallo [38 posts] 2 years ago
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I can't imagine these things would withstand the abuse cycling glasses need to be able to handle: being doused in sweat; being doused in water in order to remove the sweat; being dropped at speed while dousing them with water; being run over by another cyclist or motorist after being dropped. But maybe I'm not the sort of cyclist these glasses would be marketed to.

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PaulBox [674 posts] 2 years ago
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Ghisallo wrote:

being run over by another cyclist or motorist after being dropped.

What sort of glasses can survive being run over by a car?

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jimbo2112 [80 posts] 1 year ago
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DrJDog wrote:

It really does seem huge compared to Google Glass. But I do like the idea.

Horses for courses. Glass was woeful as a piece of hardware. This is a first good stab at a focussed bit of kit. Once we crack the battery weight issue, just about every bit of tech on the planet will become amazing.