The Ray-Ban Meta Headliner data glasses.

Jake Piazza | CNBC

Meta released the second generation of its Ray-Ban glasses in October. I’ve been testing them over the last few weeks and I really like them, even considering the extra price you pay compared to regular Ray-Bans.

The $299 Headliner model I have feels the same as traditional Ray-Bans, but is smarter. Similar to the first model, you can use it to record videos, take photos, make calls on your phone and listen to music. According to Meta, the speakers are also 50% louder. There’s also a better camera that takes photos in portrait orientation rather than landscape, making it better for social media posts.

Meta’s Reality Labs unit, which includes wearable products like the smart glasses and Meta Quest, contributes less than 1% of the company’s revenue. Still, alongside its massive advertising and social media presence, wearables represent Meta’s attempt to move forward in the device space.

Here’s what you should know about the Ray-Ban Meta data glasses:

What is good

The Ray-Ban Meta Headliner data glasses.

Jake Piazza | CNBC

The Ray-Ban Meta glasses are marketed to show that they can be worn every day like regular sunglasses. To do this, they need to be just as comfortable, stylish and useful as your regular pair. Meta and Ray-Ban have nailed this aspect.

They are comfortable to wear and not bulky. They only weigh a few grams more than traditional Ray-Ban glasses. And while I was testing the glasses in the office, I was asked several times why I wore sunglasses indoors. This gives you an idea of ​​how similar they look to classic Ray-Bans. They don’t look strange.

I wore my smart sunglasses without any technical features and they work just as well as regular polarized Ray-Ban sunglasses. For people who want to replace their corrective lenses, you can get corrective lenses just like the pairs you already use.

The Ray-Ban Meta Headliner data glasses.

Jake Piazza | CNBC

They come in handy when you want to take pictures instantly without having to pick up your phone. You just press a button on the right side of your glasses or say, “Hey Meta, take a photo.” I liked using them to take photos while walking around New York City. Just look at them side by side with the same tree. The picture on the left was taken with my iPhone and the picture on the right was taken with my glasses.

The photo on the left was taken with an iPhone 14. The photo on the right was taken with Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses.

Jake Piazza | CNBC

It’s easy to import the images or videos into the Meta View app on a phone and then save them to your camera roll.

It will be obvious to others when you take a photo or video. The circle on the right side of the glasses flashes when you take a photo and pulsates when you film, so it would be difficult to take a photo or video without anyone noticing.

This is an important feature for the establishment of Ray-Ban Meta glasses in mainstream society. The people around you know when you are recording. You can’t even block the light and take a photo. The glasses refuse to take the image when you try.

When you take a photo with the Ray-Ban Meta data glasses, an LED flash turns on.

Jake Piazza | CNBC

However, I like the audio and calling features the most.

You can use the glasses instead of your earbuds. I’ve walked through New York’s Central Park with them while listening to music, and in an environment like this, I prefer the audio experience over earbuds. The sound is still rich, but I became more attuned to my surroundings, which was helpful when a released dog ran toward me and a biker ran a red light.

Listening to music is like having a soundtrack playing in the background, as opposed to an immersive experience that many new headphones offer. I admit, I don’t have any AirPods with the noise transparency option, so it’s worth comparing this feature if you have the AirPods Pro or AirPods Max.

There’s definitely more audio loss with these than with my 3rd generation AirPods, so I’d probably still take earbuds on the train if you don’t want to inconvenience your fellow passengers. But the glasses were so quiet that they didn’t disturb my roommate while I was listening to music at home.

I liked that I could tap the right side of the glasses once to pause and resume my music, and that I could swipe my finger across it to adjust the volume.

The Ray-Ban Meta Headliner data glasses.

Jake Piazza | CNBC

The glasses are also good for making phone calls. I’ve spoken to them on the phone, both in my room and in noisy areas, and the recipients had no complaints about the audio quality. The conversation on my side was clear and I liked that I could answer incoming calls by double-tapping on the right side.

They are easy to charge. The glasses come in a hard case that charges the glasses when stored. To charge the case, you use a USB-C port – which isn’t included with the glasses – but you get about eight charges before you need to, which is a big step up from the three additional charges on the previous model .

What’s bad

The Ray-Ban Meta Headliner data glasses.

Jake Piazza | CNBC

My biggest gripe with these glasses is that it’s difficult to take photos while wearing a baseball cap. This isn’t a problem for someone who doesn’t wear a hat, but it was annoying to have to push my bill up slightly every time I wanted to take a photo without the camera getting my hat in too.

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Hat brims get in the way when taking photos with Ray-Ban Meta data glasses.

Jake Piazza | CNBC

While the glasses allow you to use voice commands to send messages or ask questions like “What’s the weather?” To me it felt more like a novelty and I can’t imagine using it consistently. I’m also a big sports fan and this voice assistant can’t tell you last night’s score like other assistants can.

If you frequently use Siri or Google Assistant on a watch or phone, some of the voice commands might be helpful to you. I just don’t use them often.

The Ray-Ban Meta Headliner data glasses.

Jake Piazza | CNBC

The battery life isn’t great if you want to use these as everyday glasses for all day. With mixed use, they achieve a battery life of around four hours. This is a combination of all the features of the glasses, but may vary depending on how sparingly or not you use them. My review unit charged from 7% to full in about 50 minutes, which is fast.

However, if you have to wear them all day with lenses on, you may have issues, at least with full functionality, since you don’t really have the option to just take them off and let the glasses charge in the middle of your day.

Finally, the glasses are water-resistant but not waterproof, so you have to be careful in rainy weather in a way that you don’t have to with regular glasses.

Should you buy them?

The Ray-Ban Meta Headliner data glasses.

Jake Piazza | CNBC

I would buy them. I really enjoyed the music, headset and photography features of these glasses, and because they still retain the comfort and style of classic Ray-Bans.

A pair of regular black Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses costs $171. The meta version of this costs $299. Is the ability to take pictures and videos of your surroundings and use them instead of earbuds and headset worth the extra money? It is for me.

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