Believe it or not, there are a few gadgets that I'm just not destined to use. That doesn't mean I won't look them over and do my best to explain them to you - because I will.
Today we're looking at the Oakley Airwave ski goggles with heads-up display. I'm afraid I'm past the age where I'm willing to consider skiing - even to try out a really cool pair of goggles.
The Airwave ($599.99) is really ahead of the curve with technology. The goggles' main feature is a small color display built into the right eyepiece. The display is tiny, but near your eye, so the effect is the same as having a 14-inch screen five feet away from you.
What can you see on this screen that might interest you while skiing? How about your speed on the slopes? Your max speed for the day? Or your altitude drop for a run or for the day? Those are all available through the goggles' built-in display.
If you're a jumper, on a snowboard or otherwise, you can track the distance, height and air time of your jumps. GPS also lets you see your exact location on a resort map.
There is also a feature letting the user see the location on a map of other Airwave wearers or even people who have the Airwave app on their iPhone or Android phone. You'll never lose track of your family or friends on the slopes.
The Airwave also has Bluetooth to allow you to control your phone while it's safe inside your jacket pocket. You can take calls, see who's calling and even view incoming text messages.
A small, watch-size control panel can be worn on your wrist or mounted to the goggle strap. On the control, you can navigate your music library and take calls. There are no speakers or microphone in the goggles, however, so you'll still need to use headphones.
The technology also includes an accelerometer, a barometer and gyro sensors.
The Airwave is large, but not so much larger than Oakley's regular goggles. The goggles seal with Oakley's three-layer foam design, and the lens is like a double-paned window. There are two layers of optically clear plastic with foam around the edges. This helps keep the goggles from fogging up while you wear them.
I got an Airwave demo at the Oakley store at Dallas's Northpark Mall. I also noticed they're in Apple stores.
The Airwave's electronics are powered by a small rechargeable battery and connect to power through a microUSB cable. Depending on the amount of screen usage, battery life can be 5 to 6 hours. That might not be enough for a really long day on the slopes, but a quick top-off during your lunch break should keep the goggles running all day.
International plugs are included with the power brick.
The Airwave is available in two colors - gun metal/black with a black iridium lens or white with a "fire" iridium lens. Both lenses improve contrast and help boost depth perception. There are other lenses available, and the lens swap takes only a few seconds.
OAKLEY AIRWAVE SKI GOGGLES:
-Pros: Real-time stats on speed, altitude, jump analytics. GPS mapping. Phone and music controls.
-Cons: Expensive; battery life could be longer.
-Bottom line: Hardcore skiers will love the Airwave. I can't wait to see what innovations Oakley comes up with in the future.
-On the Web: www.oakley.com/airwave
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