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Heads-on with Google Glass (pictures)

CNET takes you on an eyes-on tour of Google's new Glass, a milestone in wearable tech.

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Jessica Dolcourt
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1 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

Google Glass, the ultimate in geek couture

They're unabashedly bulky, asymmetrical, and they look bizarre on any face. Yet, there's also something profoundly exciting about Google Glass, Google's cutting-edge, Android-loving eyewear companion.

Know one thing: as the Explorer Edition is meant entirely for developer use to create new Glass apps and appliances, Glass is only going to get slimmer, more stylish, and a lot more powerful. We take you on a tour of the unique wearable tech that's taken Google almost a full year since its sensational debut to finally get out the door.

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2 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

Fashion icon, not so much

Google Glass isn't about style, it's about software. That's fitting, since Google isn't (and usually doesn't pretend to be) a hardware company. Think of Glass as a proof-of-concept design, a starting point for personal head-up displays to come, and you're on the right track. Google will leave it to actual frames-makers, like Warby Parker, to create fashionable headpieces with the Glass go-ahead.
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3 of 27 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

A Glass rainbow

For now, the Google Glass Explorer Edition comes in Tangerine, Charcoal, Sky, Cotton, and Shale...in other words, orange, black, blue, white, and what can only be described as grayish taupe.
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4 of 27 James Martin/CNET

Color pop

The Sky and Tangerine shades seem to be in the highest demand for now.
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5 of 27 Josh Miller/CNET

Here it is in 'Shale'

See what I mean about taupe?
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6 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

So what is Glass, anyway?

So what is Glass, and how do you use it? Think of Glass as a personalized head-up display and camera that's an extension of your smartphone. Unsurprisingly, there's far greater functionality with Android than with iOS, though Google does plan to support Apple's operating system. The My Glass app hooks into your Google account, where it can access your contacts and Google+ profile. This comes in handy for sharing photos and videos you capture with Glass...over Google+, of course.
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7 of 27 Josh Miller/CNET

Side swipe

Responding to your vocal commands and swipes, Glass can also send a text message, start turn-by-turn directions (walking, driving, and bicycling, thankyouverymuch), and initiate a Google Hangout.
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8 of 27 Josh Miller/CNET

Capture the moment

You can go ahead and leave that smartphone camera in your pocket. To shoot and share photos and videos with Glass, just press that camera shutter button up top for 5-megapixel snaps and 720p video.
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9 of 27 Josh Miller/CNET

Ready for a close-up

Look closely, and the people around you can make out what you're seeing, too.
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10 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

Glass has the touch

Tapping, and swiping forward, back, and down are other navigational gestures for the frame's touch-sensitive right arm.
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11 of 27 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Splendor in the grass

Handily, Glass comes with a separate sunglass lens that attaches into the unit. And yes, it's polarized.
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12 of 27 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Two-piece

Sliding the sunglass shade into the frame isn't too tricky, but you do have to get the hang of it. First you turn the lens on its side to fit it into the nose piece, then you pivot it into place, with the divoted right edge lining up with the frame's camera and lens module.
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13 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

A closer look at the camera

Glass' central head piece consists of a thick glass screen (this becomes your head-up display) and a camera. Both sit on an adjustable hinged arm.
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14 of 27 James Martin/CNET

One angle

Here's the default screen angle.
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15 of 27 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Articulate it

This articulated unit doesn't extend too far in either direction, but the goal is to move the camera to take in a slightly different angle and view.
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16 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

View from the top

From this angle, you can see how thick the display really is.
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17 of 27 Josh Miller/CNET

It talks back

That oval Glass button on the earpiece is the device's speaker unit. It chirps when you slip Glass on, and reads out driving directions. You'll also hear alert notifications ding in your ear. And that circular button on the left side of the stem? That powers the smart frames on and off.
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18 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

Chin up!

You may feel some eye strain, especially at first, since Glass' display rests above your right orb.
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19 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

As for storage?

Glass comes with 12GB of usable memory for those photos and videos (out of a 16GB total), and syncs with Google cloud storage.
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20 of 27 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Take it with you

Tote Glass around in its own carrying case, which has a hard base to safeguard the lens and screen.
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21 of 27 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Carry case, part deux

Don't try putting that in your pocket or purse.
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22 of 27 SarahTew/CNET

The great unboxing

Here's what you get inside the big Glass box: cables, a charging plug, replacement nose pads, and that carrier case.
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23 of 27 Screenshot by Lindsey Turrentine/CNET

My Glass app

The MyGlass app (free, of course, in the Google Play store) is your starting-out point for getting the Glass frames all hooked up and ready to go.
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24 of 27 Screenshot by Lindsey Turrentine/CNET

Just say 'yes'

The more services you enable, like Google Now, Google +, and third-party apps, the more you can do with Glass.
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25 of 27 Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Pinwheel

One last look at Glass' debut shades. (Get it? I kill me!)
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26 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

Too cool for school?

Love it or hate it, Google is once again forging a so-crazy-it-just-might-work path with Glass, at least among the geek elite for starters.
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27 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

Eyes on the prize

CNET is going deep with Google Glass Explorer Edition, so stay tuned for the full, complete, and unabridged review coming soon, with many more photos and videos. In the meantime, read our first impressions here.

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