During a December trip to Whistler Blackcomb mountain in British Columbia and two days at Crystal Mountain in Washington state, CNET's Jay Greene tried out several pricey GPS-enabled goggles with heads-up displays showing his speed, distance traveled, and more. The gadgets, alas, often proved as vexing as they were downright cool.
Here, Greene sports the $550 Zeal Optics Z3 goggles, which proved the most reliable of the batch that he tried.
The $650 Smith Optics I/O Recon goggles, like every ski goggle that uses GPS speed-tracking technology from Recon Instruments, includes a wireless remote controller that can be attached to the goggle strap to navigate from screen to screen on a heads-up display unit inside the goggles. The remote can also be strapped on the skier's wrist.
At first, the I/O Recons worked pretty well, but after three days started to show some flaws.
These $600 Oakley Airwave goggles are simply beautiful, Greene says. As goggles, they work great, giving skiers fog-free viewing while filtering out 100 percent of ultraviolet light. The problem: the Recon heads-up display unit was finicky to a fault.
It turns out there's a much less expensive way to capture most of the data that matters. Before Greene left for Whistler, he spent 99 cents on iTunes to download Ski Tracks, an app created by Core Coders. It uses the GPS technology in an iPhone to capture data including speed, distance, vertical descent, number of runs, and more. It can't check the data mid-run, but Greene didn't really care much about that feature anyway.