Camera glasses decent but not stylish
Pivothead’s Durango high-definition, hands-free glasses wouldn’t be out of place next to comic book mail-order ads for exploding bubble gum or kung fu sandals, but they’re actually a decent alternative to other point-of-view cameras.
There’s just one hitch. They’re not stylish, no sir, unless odd, bulky, Oakley knock-offs are your style. Suave looks, it would seem, were trumped by the need to accommodate a lens, charging system and other assorted gadgetry necessary to make a wearable, (somewhat) inconspicuous, camera-cum-sunglasses system.
On the other hand, these glasses seem well built.
And all joking aside, it’s obvious the Durangos and other models — there are four in total and a variety of lenses — are made more for the sportsman and less for the fashionista. Despite their cumbersome appearance, they’re not heavy feeling or uncomfortable to wear.
All models retail for $350.
The frame is covered in a matte-black, soft-touch, grippable, rubberized material with impact-resistant lenses. It also flexes to a degree, which should help in the event of a fall or mishap.
These glasses can probably take a knock or two, but wouldn’t hold up to constant abuse or extended use in wet or moist environments.
The left arm is home to a top-mounted rocker switch. Press forward for video, back for still image capture.
Relatively straightforward, right?
Press forward for about four seconds to change video capture modes (1080p at 30 frames per second, 720p at 30 or 60 frames per second). Press the rear toggle to cycle through focus modes (fixed, continuous and auto). The mode you’ve selected is indicated by three small LEDs located on the inside of the arm, but they’re difficult to decipher without a crib sheet nearby.
A power switch is located on the bottom of the same left arm, as is a micro-USB port that functions as a charger and a computer connection that you can use to offload files from Durango’s eight gigabytes of onboard storage, enough for about an hour of 1080p video.
Between the lenses and above the user’s nose is the (ahem) focal point of the product, a slightly recessed, four-element lens with a 75-degree field of view that works with an eight-megapixel Sony CMOS sensor.
Image quality is fairly decent considering the size of the device, nearly on par with other wearable cameras like the the GoPro HD, but not quite as good, especially in more adverse lighting conditions.
There’s a very noticeable lag in the camera’s exposure adjustment when transitioning from light to dark and vice versa.
Audio performance isn’t great, but no worse than expected for a camera in a pair of sunglasses.
Still images can be captured in a resolution of three, five, or eight megapixels in bursts of up to 16 consecutive frames. Like video mode, image quality is decent in good light conditions, comparable to a late-model smartphone.
In order to access and control some of the Durango’s features like a macro mode and various exposure settings, the glasses have to be connected to a computer, Mac or Windows, using the included Pivothead software.
Pick your settings judiciously though because once the glasses are disconnected, the settings will stick until you can reconnect to change them again. This issue can be remedied by purchasing the $99 Air Pivothead Wi-Fi transmitter, which can charge the glasses on the go, offload files and allow the user to adjust settings using an iOS or Android device.
Christian Laforce is a photographer for The Chronicle Herald.