Name: Transcend GPS (Zeal Optics)
Type: GPS-enabled snow goggles
Specs: Click here for full specs
Price: £449.99 from Firebox
Zeal Optics are really upping their game with their latest pair of ski-googles, the Transcend GPS model. With a whole host of location-aware features, these shades are one-part eye protection and one-part fighter-pilot HUD techy-goodness. But is the addition of a screen little more than a novelty, or a full-blown Robocop-on-the-slopes experience?
As a straightforward pair of ski-goggles, the Transcend GPSs are surprisingly comfortable. Despite the added bulk of the onboard screen tech and battery, they manage to sit snugly on the head without little noticeable neck strain from the extra weight. A fully adjustable elasticated strap means the headset will fit over most helmet and head sizes, with rubberised grips to stop them slipping.
Two lens options are available; a fixed tint SPX set or adaptive SPPX lens which changes depending on conditions. It’s not as varied a range as you’d get from regular ski googles, but as we’re going to explain, these are no regular ski-shades. Plenty of air gets behind the well ventilated frames, and our sweaty testing session produced little fogging on the inside of the goggles.
The magic lies with the 320 x 240 resolution display that sits in the bottom right corner of the Transcend GPS goggles. This will pump information including GPS location, temperature, altitude and speed into the goggles, allowing you to keep track of your performance on the snow. At first I was a little disappointed with the placement of the screen. I’d hoped for a wider view of the information directly ahead of me rather than tucked away in the corner, but in all truthfulness, it’s probably for the best; lots of information flashing up unavoidably in front of your eyes would likely make you a danger on the slopes. The goggles themselves do however make you lose a tiny bit of peripheral vision.
The bright screen is easy to read despite its small size, helped along by a sensible array of icons visually describing the many features included. Three chunky buttons on the side of the goggles, easily pressed with thick gloves on, let you scroll through and select menu options including a speedometer, current and average speeds, altitude levels, a stopwatch, environmental temperature and coordinates amongst others. It can take a while however for the goggles to catch up with dramatic changes in your movements; slowing down suddenly doesn’t always see the corresponding figures appear on screen, and we’d imagine the same would happen were you to (heaven forbid) fall off a cliff with the altitude monitor.
Tracking our movements reasonably well then, the GPS system onboard can be hooked up with a PC software suite called Recon HQ, which is arguably the best part of using the Trancsend GPS headwear. Pulling the GPS data from the goggles via microUSB, it uses Google Earth and a proprietary tracking system to display your runs through the Google mapping service. It’s an excellent way of showing pals the details of your trip, including your statistics at specific points along the route, making it a great tool with which to plan your next outings.
You’ll get 6 hours worth of use out of the Zeal Optics Transcend GPS goggles from a single 4-and-a-bit hour charge, which should be enough time for a day’s worth of play. The goggle’s premium price tag also allows for another luxury to be included; a hard travel case that will protect the lenses when not in use or when packed away in a suitcase.
There is no denying the Zeal Optics Transcend GPS goggles are a niche purchase, not least of all because of the whopping price tag attached to them. Regular skiers may do better to snap up a cheaper pair that allow for a wider range of lenses to be used, as well as being a little lighter on the head. Having said that, the Transcend GPS goggles are comfortable to wear despite the tech inside, and there’s an undeniable sci-fi charm to being able to measure your speed and then download your journeys once you get home. Half a grand’s worth of charm however takes quite a passion for both the slopes and tech to stomach though, and we’re expecting only hardcore geek-skiers to be donning these in Aspen next season.
By Gerald Lynch | March 30th, 2011