Google Glass is looking weaker all the time. At CES 2014, Taiwanese ODM ChipSiP showed a prototype of its Smart Glass solution that puts Google's wearable to shame with a sharp HD screen, support for 1080p video capture and the full Android 4.2 operating system. The smart glasses also pack a RockChip 1.2-Ghz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of storage along with a gyroscope, accelerometer, compass and light sensor. In development right now, ChipSiP expects one or more of its partners to ship the product under their brands and bring it to the U.S. market by middle to late 2014 for under $1,000.
We had a chance to play with a prototype of the ChipSiP Smart Glass and were excited by its robust Android experience, attractive design and sharp screen. The product has come a long way since we saw a very raw early demo unit at Computex 2013.
The biggest difference between Google's Glass and the ChipSip Smart Glass is the latter's superior 720p display. When we held the glasses above our eye (the unit we tested was one half of a frame, but the final product will be part of a full frame), we could easily see the stock Android home screen with shortcut icons lining the right edge and a clock and weather widget in the middle. Image quality was sharp and colors were brighter than what we've seen on Google Glass so far, although it did take some squinting to properly focus on the small graphics.
Navigating the Android OS on this prototype is similar to how you would on Glass. The prototype we saw had a large textured touchpad on its side and physical buttons for volume controls. A ChipSiP rep told us that the company expects to add Google Now voice controls to the product, and create a wearable-friendly UI to go on top of Android. It was a little difficult to use the touchpad to control a cursor on the glass since the overall interface is squeezed into a little screen above your eye, but we expect the custom UI to make controlling the watch easier.
Physically, the headset bears a striking resemblance to Glass. It has the same small glass cube above your eye on a similar plastic frame, but the model we played with was significantly chunkier. It also sports a microUSB charging port and audio jack at the bottom and curves to cup your ear. ChipSiP said it is refining the physical design so we can expect the final product to be smaller and lighter. The prototype, which has been ceded to developers, is available in several fashion colors including black and orange.
The frame also boasts a 5-MP camera just like the Glass, and will support Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0. Its 580-mAh battery should last about 3 to 4 hours on a charge. We can't wait till we get our hands on a final version of ChipSiP's Smart Glass to see how this product matures.