Razer Anzu Smart Glasses Review: A Hint at the Future of Eyewear

Before the reality of mobile phones and then smart watches, the sci-fi dream was a traditional-looking pair of eyeglasses that could augment your vision just by slipping them on your face. They might have taken longer to conceptualize than those other devices, but smart glasses are on the edge of showing up in full force. The latest to join the category are the Razer Anzu glasses.

Razer Anzu smart glasses
Razer's smart glasses are largely inconspicuous as a tech gadget. TYLER HAYES

Glasses with Bluetooth connectivity might sound novel, but they join a growing group of products converging in the wearable space. Bose, Apple, Snap and Amazon are all dabbling around using their unique expertise to carve out their own niche. Razer, too, is using its history of gaming peripherals to influence its Anzu glasses.

What can the Anzu smart glasses actually do? Well, the "smart" label is applied a bit liberally; these are better described as audio glasses. They come with interchangeable blue light filtering lenses for indoor wearing and sunglass lenses for outdoor use, and speakers in each stem for personal audio listening. They can be used for calls with an integrated microphone and feature low latency Bluetooth audio for gaming.

These Anzu smart glasses might not project images through their lenses, but they can provide plenty of utility through device convergence. More importantly, they provide a glimpse at what our smart glasses future will be like in the not-to-distant future.

Fit and Design

While the design of some products is ancillary, the look and feel of glasses is everything. If glasses aren't comfortable or make you look silly, there's almost no point in considering their functionality. Glasses are also deeply personal, and their fit will vary widely, much like earbuds and headphones. Here, in my opinion, and after polling friends and family, I think Razer has cleared the design bar. I think they look fine, and no one else noted any silliness—but you can decide.

Razer Anzu smart glasses
The Razer Anzu smart glasses come in either rectangle (shown) or round designs. TYLER HAYES

The stems of the glasses, the part that extends to rest on your ears, are a little chubbier than most traditional eyewear but more compact than Bose's audio glasses. It's the one area that may be the most compromised as companies work to miniaturize speakers designed to push audio directly into people's ears.

These glasses come in two designs, either round or rectangle. I tested the rectangle ones in the small-medium size. (The other size option is large.) Even at their smallest size, the glasses verged on being too big. They stayed on my head fine while looking forward, but leaning forward or too much movement caused them to slide down constantly. Personally, I would like to see the glasses in three distinct sizes instead of their combining small and medium.

My first impression of the glasses' build quality was underwhelming. They are lightweight, which is good, but they feel a little flimsy and creaky. They seemed a bit fragile during the unboxing and setup process. Popping out the blue light lenses and replacing them with the outdoor sunglass lenses was another nerve-racking process. Over time, I began to handle the glasses more casually as I became more convinced that I wouldn't break them. At $200, damaging them when changing the lenses would feel tragic.

Razer Anzu smart glasses
Anzu glasses have a gaming mode for low latency Bluetooth audio streaming. TYLER HAYES

One thing that doesn't change, even as you become an expert at popping the lenses in and out, is smudges. This is especially true of the lenses but also applies to the entire glossy black frames. The slick, wet look of the frames is nice from a fashion standpoint, but it's instantly destroyed by fingerprints. Each temple has touch controls so even if you can avoid adjusting them constantly, touching them is guaranteed.

After the first day of wearing the Anzu glasses around, it occurred to me that it must seem rich that some people voluntarily wear glasses while others with sight issues are forced into them. People with prescription glasses are able to wear Anzu glasses through Razer's partnership with Lensabl for custom lenses. I don't imagine these being full-time glasses replacements, though there's little reason why they couldn't be.

A Glimpse at Augmented Reality Glasses

After living with these Anzu glasses for a bit, it's clear they are less smart and more just handy. The bulk of their utility comes from combining the function of two devices into one. Indoors, this means merging blue light filtering glasses and earbuds. Outdoors, these are your sunglasses and earbuds. In commingling functionality, they also remove the need to stick little earbud pieces into your ears.

The goal with smart wearables is the ability to back away from complicated devices and include complex features into devices we already wear, like a watch or glasses. Wearing the Razer Anzu glasses gives a peek into that world that's constantly encroaching on us.

Razer Anzu smart glasses
The Anzu glasses come with both blue light filtering and sunglass lenses that are interchangeable. TYLER HAYES

I have plenty of experience testing glasses with audio from Bose and glasses with cameras from Snap. The thing I was immediately reminded of when I put on these Razer glasses was that people around you don't know whether you're listening to something or not. There's no exterior indicator that shows whether something is playing through the glasses' speakers. If you turn up the volume past 50 percent, people in the same space can begin to hear audio coming from the frames. Below that threshold, the audio becomes much more personal and for only you.

Speaking of audio, the quality while listening to music is not great in a traditional sense. Interestingly though, I found myself with a much lower expectation for it to be good in the first place. Maybe that assumption comes from the open-ear design or just the awareness that these are glasses. Even though this is primarily an audio device, the lackluster sound while listening to music at low and mid-levels isn't too worrisome. The sound becomes much fuller and richer past 60 percent volume and peaks in quality around a 75 percent level. The secretive, undercover listening is blown at that point, but if that's not a factor, then turn it up.

If you are listening undercover around people, you'll likely need to use the touch controls with some frequency. They work in a passable manner, but I'm not crazy about the feel of them. There's no click sound or distinct sensation when pressing them in the dedicated spot on the stem. A single click for pause-play is easy, but the double click was much harder to master. Razer's audio app allows you to remap controls or completely turn off ones you don't want.

The most glaring omission is a way to adjust the volume from the frames themselves. Since these are able to be worn around constantly, it would be nice to adjust the listening volume easily and on the fly. You can toggle between gaming mode that has lower latency audio, but I kept it on and didn't find any downside to leaving it on. Typical Bluetooth audio latency is around 100 to 300 milliseconds, but the Anzu glasses advertise a latency of 60 milliseconds. Video watching or game playing can be disorienting if the audio doesn't arrive at the same speed as the image; this feature is an attempt to make wireless audio work better for both.

I jumped on a few calls to try the microphone. Everyone said they could hear me fine. I also recorded a voice memo to hear it for myself and was quite surprised at how decent it sounded. The other pleasant surprise was the battery life. Razer advertises 5-plus hours of use. I always exceeded that estimate. There are batteries in each of the glasses stems, so each part needs to be connected to the proprietary charging cable that comes in the box. An oddity I noticed occasionally in the Razer app was one stem's reporting a lower battery level than the other. I'm not sure how one side depletes faster than the other and Razer didn't respond to my inquiry into this aspect.

Razer Anzu smart glasses
Each stem on the glasses has a speaker and a charging contact on its underside. TYLER HAYES

I ran regularly with the Bose Frames Tempo which are also audio glasses. I really like them for their dedicated purpose, but they aren't suited for indoor use. I thought about running with the Anzu, but I didn't want to risk their falling off or becoming damaged with their loose fit. Anzu are IPX4 water-resistance rated to handle light water splashes, so they can handle sweat and be used for exercise if need be.

These glasses don't necessarily augment your reality on their own, but they have the potential to. AR is not solely about seeing visual items at certain locations, but can also mean hearing audio cues at certain times. Walking directions in your ears, without staring at your phone is a great example. Razer is smart to continue building out its wearable market with these glasses. Whether it works out for it long-term or not, this is the direction consumer electronics are headed.

Should You Buy the Razer Anzu Smart Glasses?

Even though the Razer Anzu glasses aren't executed flawlessly they're still compelling. They benefit from an early mover advantage. In utilizing blue light filtering lenses with interchangeable sunglass lenses, these glasses can be worth throughout the day, in and out of the house.

It's easy to see why this product exists from Razer—for a gamer wanting to combine glasses and earbuds. But, I can also imagine the scenario of someone primarily working in front of a computer, where they might be wearing blue light glasses to combat eye fatigue. Here, the Anzu glasses keep the person's ears open for awareness but also add speakers and a mic to jump on a conference call without having to switch to earbuds. These could be a perfect modern-day workplace accessory.

If you don't have the right environment or circumstances then these might be a little frustrating with some of their limitations. Either way, Razer is on the right track with its Anzu smart glasses.

Buy at Razer and Best Buy.

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