The way we listen to music is changing. Today, the option to play music is making its way into more wearable devices: smartwatches, headbands and eyewear. A case in point is the Noise i1, a new breed of smart glasses that can play music while protecting your eyes from the sun or blue light from smartphone screens and laptops. Noise i1's frames are available in square, round shapes and come with interchangeable lenses.
In terms of design, it looks a lot like the Bose Frames Alto and has a similar bulge in the temple region, which houses the hardware supporting the audio capabilities. The speaker is placed on the lower side of the temple, so the audio can be directed towards the ear. Noise i1 feels well-built even though it makes this squeaking sound every time it is opened or closed. At 47g, it's quite light and also supports IPX4 water-proofing, which makes it resilient to water splashes. It means you can wear it even when it's drizzling outside, for example.
The glasses supports Bluetooth 5.1, which switches on/off automatically when the temples are open and closed. Pairing is simple and connection to iPhones and Android devices takes place almost instantly. Noise has used something called HyperSync technology that enables this instant connection.
However, the glasses do not have any buttons on them, unlike the Bose Frames. But you can control the audio level by swiping left to right and vice versa in the temple region near the hinges. The swipe controls are not very convenient to use and often require a hard swipe to get a response.
The Noise i1 has a 16.2mm speaker driver, which is quite capable of meeting the casual music playback requirements. The audio quality is clear with a decent amount of bass. It works well with most types of music but struggles while handling songs with multiple instruments. For instance, while playing rock music, it struggled to handle the audio distribution properly, resulting in a jarring experience. It can be attributed to the limitations of the driver.
This smart eyewear does a modest job of keeping the sound isolated. A bystander can tell when one it's playing something, however, the lyrics are not very clear unless one is standing very close, giving listeners some semblance of privacy. The glasses can also receive calls, thank to two microphones in each temple. The call quality on regular calls is loud and clear, but feeble during calls on WhatsApp and Microsoft Teams. The audio experience was also underwhelming on video streaming platforms such as Netflix. However, it sounded much better with offline mp4 videos.
In terms of battery backup, the Noise i1 was able to muster 3-4 hours of music playback often on full volume, and still retain some battery power. Noise claims the glasses can last up to 9 hours on 70% volume.
Overall, Noise i1 is a new breed of smart accessories that can double up as eyewear and earphones. It doesn’t look as cool as an aviator but doesn't look chunky either and can come in handy while driving, trekking, or relaxing on the beach. At ₹6,999, it is also quite affordable as compared to the Bose Frames Alto, which is currently selling at ₹19,900.