Sony's Google Glass rival SmartEyeglass goes on sale for $840 or £520

The SmartEyeglass Developer Edition SED-E1 smart glasses are cheaper than Glass, but far less elegant.

Sony is making a pass at Google Glass, announcing that a developer edition of the Sony SmartEyeglass high-tech specs are available to order now -- and they're cheaper than Glass, even if they're nowhere near as elegant.

The SmartEyeglass Developer Edition SED-E1 is the first set of smart glasses from Sony to go on sale. They are available from March in the US, the UK, Germany and Japan for $840, £520, €670 or 100,000 yen, and pre-orders are open today in the UK and Germany. They'll also be on sale to business customers in France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden. No Australian prices or details were announced but the UK price converts to around AU$1,020.

Smart glasses are like regular specs with a transparent screen in the lenses, so you can see features like emails and notifications floating in front of your very eyes. Paired with your phone, the glasses can show you information or tell you what's going on with the apps in your pocket.

The SED-E1 displays information in the colour green only. The battery lasts around 2 hours 30 minutes.

Although there are plenty of high-tech eyewear alternatives, the Google Glass specs are the best known. Glass was one of the early devices that kickstarted the trend for wearable tech, but earlier this year Google stopped selling it. Costing $1,500 and only available in limited numbers, it was never aimed at a mass audience. What's more, the camera-equipped device raised controversy over questions of privacy -- bars banned them and wearers earned the nickname "Glassholes".

In design terms Glass is much more subtle than Sony's chunky 77-gram (2.7-ounce) black-rimmed SmartEyeglass. Having worn them in September last year, I can tell you they're pretty cumbersome. Glass is also wireless, whereas Sony's specs connect with a wire to a hockey puck-sized control unit that holds the battery, speaker, microphone and touch controls.

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