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Google gives free Glass upgrades to early adopters

The steep cost of entry to testing Google Glass comes with at least one free upgrade, if you were an early participant.

Mark Shandy, a Google Glass engineer with a long history in tech that stretches back to Xerox PARC, shows off a prototype Google Glass fitted for prescription glasses at Google I/O 2013. Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

It wasn't cheap to buy into the earliest round of Google Glass testing, but Google is now offering an unexpected benefit: a free hardware upgrade.

In an e-mail sent to early Google Glass owners on Wednesday, the company offered to upgrade the $1,500 Explorer Edition headsets to a newer model for free. Google said that the newer model is faster, more durable, and compatible with upcoming prescription frames and the recently announced accessories such as the mono-earbud and the sunglasses attachment Shades.

The one-time swap-out offer covers all Glass models purchased before October 28, 2013, and is good for 60 days until February 5, 2014. Headsets will be replaced on a first-come, first-served basis, and Glass owners can use the swap to change their headset colors. The new model comes with a renewed one-year warranty.

Google also teased but did not disclose plans for the older headsets. "We get that you might be a little sad to part with your Glass; you've been through a lot together. So, we're going to make sure that your old Glass is duly honored when you send it back. Stay tuned," the company wrote in the e-mail.