With Google Glass potentially getting closer to public release, the number of companies offering cheaper alternatives is likely to increase. The latest is GlassUp, an Indiegogo project promising options from a claimed $299 – though that’s without a key feature: the camera. With a camera, the price is $399 for plain glass or $499 with prescription glass.

The catch with all these low-end devices is two-fold. First, the device itself is essentially just a remote display for a smartphone app. You’ll need a Bluetooth connection to an app running on your Android or iOS device. Second, it won’t run apps designed for Google Glass, only apps written specifically for GlassUp. While the developers are making APIs available, whether third-party developers choose to create apps for it is in the lap of the gods: you could end up with a device that does little more than display incoming messages.

The display also appears to be right in your field of vision, rather than the more discreet ‘corner’ used by the real thing. Given that messages pop up when they arrive, that could potentially be irritating or distracting.

Our advice, as with other alternatives, would be to wait a while: there’s going to be a lot of competition in this market.

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