I got my answer from Zeal Optics's Z3 goggles during a December trip to Whistler Blackcomb mountain in British Columbia. The Z3s are a new, and very expensive, breed of goggles that capture data using GPS technology and flash it on a tiny heads-up display unit at the bottom of the field of vision on the right side of lens. Zipping down Springboard, a wide-open, groomed intermediate run, the tiny display ticked off my speed as the slope steepened and the wind whistled past me. Zeal is one of a handful of ski goggle makers selling devices that include the heads-up display technology from Recon Instruments, a Vancouver, B.C., company that's trying to bring hands-free, real-time performance statistics to skiers. The devices include tiny GPS receivers and a set of sensors to provide speed, distance, vertical descent data, and more. I also brought along goggles from Oakley and Smith Optics that use Recon's heads-up displays to test during my ski trip as well.
But after five days on the mountain in Whistler and two days at Crystal Mountain in Washington state, I can't recommend buying any of the goggles, As cool as the heads-up display technology zizo bolt iphone x tough case & screen protector - black reviews is, the goggles routinely faltered, not charging in some instances, not connecting to a separate controller unit at other times, and offering up a baffling collection of error messages that could only be deciphered by a coding geek, Those glitches are particularly problematic for goggles that start at a wallet-busting suggested retail price of $450 and climb to $650, The most expensive pair cost as much as a weeklong lift ticket at Whistler, and nearly three times as much as the most expensive gadget-free goggles from Oakley, often the priciest of goggle makers, With that price tag, the heads-up goggles should be reliable, But they're not..
Let's start with the Oakley Airwave. These $600 babies are beautiful goggles. Oakley has the whole industrial-design thing nailed. The Airwaves fit well with all the different ski helmets that my friends and family use. The "White Factory Text" graphics with the "Fire Iridium" lenses I tried look, well, pretty badass, to be honest. And, as goggles, they work great, giving skiers fog-free viewing while filtering out 100 percent of ultraviolet light. The goggles offered so much promise. I wasn't just going to be able to track my speed. I could also have seen the distance I traveled, my current altitude, and my total vertical descent. I was even going to be able to pair the heads-up display with my iPhone so I could view incoming calls and texts, a nifty little feature that would have let me ignore all my work calls and only respond to the ones from my wife, kids, and friends with whom I was skiing, to meet up for lunch or an end-of-the-day run. There's even a way to control my music playlists so I could rock out to just the right tunes.
But it was all for naught, The problem, for me, was that the Recon heads-up display unit was finicky to a fault, For several days, zizo bolt iphone x tough case & screen protector - black reviews it simply wouldn't charge, So I shelved the goggles, only to try a few days later, when they actually did charge up, But when I turned them on, I got an error message on the heads-up display that read: "Sorry! The application Reconjni (process com.reconinstruments.nativetest) has stopped unexpectedly, Please try again."But I couldn't try again, That's because I needed to click "force close" using a wireless controller that comes with every Recon unit, The controller, though, hadn't paired with the goggles yet, So there was no way to force close the application, And restarting the heads-up display just triggered the same error message, So I was unable to demo the technology on the Oakleys at all, (A Recon spokesman later said the company is aware of the bug and plans to fix it with the next software update.)..
I was ready to write my Recons off as merely a defective set of goggles. But I had trouble with Smith's I/O Recon goggles as well. Like the Airwaves, the $650 I/O Recons are a great-looking goggle. The design is based on Smith's top-of-the-line I/O goggles, a model that I've used for the past year and loved. The I/O Recons are trim, remarkably fog free, and use the I/O's easy-to-swap lens system, making it a snap to switch lenses when the days go from sunny to gray. And for the first few days, the I/O Recons worked pretty well. I was able to track my speed and check the distance I traveled. It was fun, albeit a bit dangerous, to see if I could beat my top speed. And I loved one of the simplest features of the goggles: the clock at the bottom of the screen. I never had to take off my gloves and fish underneath my parka to find my watch to figure out the time.
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