ZDNET’s key takeaways
- Starting at $269, Amazon Echo Frame (3rd Generation) It’s a natural way for glasses wearers to control their smart home, communicate with friends and family, and listen to audio wherever and whenever.
- The latest model has a lighter build, longer battery life, improved speakers and new controls that will take some getting used to.
- While the Alexa ChatGPT in your ear isn’t a voice assistant, it’s capable enough to answer simple questions and complete most smart home tasks.
The title of this article could go many ways — I wore Amazon’s Echo Frame to an airport and the TSA didn’t stop me or These smart glasses let me call CES hands-free — But I settled with “Alexa on my face” because most people using it will probably have the latest smart glasses from Amazon. It’s not as weird as it sounds, I promise.
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As these are the third generation of the company’s Echo frames, Amazon has made mostly iterative updates — the build is lighter, the battery lasts longer, and there’s more bass — while staying true to the original purpose of the glasses: giving you direct (and natural) Amazon’s popular voice assistant Alexa. Communication path with
There are other things you can do with the glasses, of course, which I’ll detail in my two-week account of wearing Echo Frames below.
Within the smart glasses hierarchy, you can think of Echo Frames as an entry-level pair, ideal for users who want something discrete but with enough technology to scratch consumer itches. I’ve worn several pairs of smart glasses over the past year, and these from Amazon might be the most common-looking of them all. That’s a good thing, I learned during my flight to CES in early January.
Also: Amazon unveils way to cast video to Fire TV and Echo Show 15
Want to test both Echo Frame and Meta Ray-Ban During my trip, I went through the usual security screening and got stopped twice because my camera-equipped Meta glasses looked suspicious. No one questioned the Echo frames, which, even up close, looked like a regular pair of prescriptions made of plastic. (Or maybe no one expected me to two Pair of smart glasses. I’m not sure.)
True to Amazon’s word, the Echo frames feel very light on the face, with most of the weight distributed to the sides of the frame, where speakers, buttons, and other small components are stored. The rubber tips on the edges of the glasses definitely help with fit, although I found it difficult to fold the glasses after adjusting them.
While the glasses store easily in the included carrying case, if they’re not folded properly, you’ll have trouble charging them. That’s because, unlike Meta Ray-Ban’s USB-C carrying case, there’s a new separate charging dock for the Echo Frame, and aligning the wireless charging coils with the glasses can be quite awkward. You either have to force the glasses to gap — which seems like something you don’t want to do with glasses — or collapse and slot right in. Nine times out of 10, I’m doing option one.
In terms of functionality, the Echo frames don’t have a multimodal AI camera like the Meta Ray-Bans or project visual overlays like the XR glasses. Instead, they can stream Bluetooth audio, take calls and send text messages, read notifications, and interact with Alexa-enabled smart home devices like your phone or smart hub would normally. Again, entry-level specs – and that’s not a bad thing.
Also: Meta’s $299 Ray-Ban smart glasses might be the most useful gadget I’ve tested all year
My house is not like that though smart As my ZDNET colleague Maria Diaz notes, I enjoyed using the Echo Frame to turn various smart switches on and off, which saved me from having to walk to my phone and use an app while charging in the kitchen or on my nightstand. The scale of Alexa-compatible devices is large enough that I can command even my three-year-old August entry lock to secure it.
Aside from the smart features, I enjoyed listening to podcasts and making calls on my evening walks. Perhaps it’s my ability to listen to on-device audio while being aware of my surroundings, or that the Echo Frame’s speakers prefer mid and high frequencies over bassy, engulfing lows. It’s probably a bit of both. The takeaway is that the specs are only great for vocal-audio tracks and passable for anything multi-layered.
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Finally, I wish the button navigations weren’t so complicated, but since I mainly use voice commands to get things done, I don’t have to press the forward or back buttons to accept and reject things (or mute the microphone). It annoys me so much. If you’re coming from an older pair of Echo Frames, you’ll have to retrain your muscle memory because the touch strip and swipe gestures are gone.
ZDNET’s buying advice
But Amazon’s specs have two big things going for them: Alexa integration and design. Smart home enthusiasts will absolutely love the benefits of having a controller they can use all the time (with battery life that can last them all day), and first-time smart glasses buyers will find it far less intimidating than the Mini. Built in projector and camera. Plus, you’ll have a smaller chance of being stopped by the TSA.