Hands-On With NoScope Glasses, Round 2: Orions and Hydras
Maybe it’s a symptom of years spent in front of various screens throughout my life, but I’m realizing that my eyes put in some serious work over the course of a day of writing and gaming. “Gamer glasses,” special glasses with yellow lenses to ease eye strain, aren’t new, but NoScope as a company somewhat is. I reviewed their Demon Series specs earlier this year: though they rivaled competitor brand Gunnar Optiks due to their build quality and affordability, I really wanted some different lens and frame styles for work in addition to play. Enter NoScope’s two new glasses: the metal-infused “Hydra,” and the office-friendly “Orion.” I’ve spent a couple of weeks with them both, and they’re a great step forward in the NoScope line.
NoScope’s biggest appeal compared to Gunnar is price; where the cheapest pair of Gunnars sets you back roughly US $70, NoScope’s Demon Series are $20. These use a plastic frame and plastic lenses that offers some slight magnification and the classic yellow filter. They’re reliable, but the frame can feel a bit cheap, and the lenses are fingerprint magnets. You’ll have no safe-haven from the fingerprints with either new model, as they use the same lenses, but those looking for an upgrade from the Demon Series’ “all-plastic chic” can use the new Hydras.
Consider the Hydra more of a “Demon Series 2.0.” The lenses and frames sport a similar look, but these use a metal alloy in the frame and bridge for a sturdier feel. The Hydras also don’t wrap against the face or the back of the head as tightly, making them more comfortable for wearing over long sessions. This comes at a price: more of the peripheral vision goes unshielded, so this may be a bit of a drawback for those used to the total immersion of the Demon Series. On the point of being pulled out of immersion, the metal on the nose of the glasses reflects light, meaning they create an unsightly ghost in the bottom of your vision when a light source is on the left or right of you. This could probably be resolved with some black nail polish or paint, but it can be distracting in the middle of a game, and using a black metal or painting them before shipping would have saved a lot of trouble. Still, for fans of the Demon Series, the Hydra’s metal frames make the glasses feel sturdier as a whole, and the rubber tips on the temples help them rest easily behind the ears (did you know the arm-part of a pair of glasses is called a “temple?”). I preferred the comfort of the Hydras over the Demons, and as the NoScope “premium model,” it definitely elicits that feeling.
My biggest complaint with NoScope in the past was that the Demon Series specs “scream NERD GAMER” with their angled lenses and thick black frame. I hesitated to protect my eyes from harsh light at the office or at the local coffee shop (AKA “in public”). The Orion model addresses that complaint by using traditional, Aviator-style teardrop lenses. Minimalist, black metal frames wrap the outside, and rubber-coated tips shield the temples. I’ve worn them at the office a few times, and though I still get snarky comments about wearing “shooting glasses” because of the yellow tint, I definitely feel more comfortable wearing them around non-gamers. The large teardrop style also mean that the Orions cover more vision than the Hydras, but this also might be due to how closely they hug the face. My only real problem with the Orions is how short the temples are; they’re significantly shorter than either other model, and can be just a little tight behind the ears. Still, I find myself gravitating to them because of their light feel and wide coverage.
NoScope’s aiming to put up a fight against other gaming glasses companies, and with their three models they’re putting up a good one. I also have to admit their customer service is pretty great; I let them know that my Orions shipped with a scratch on one lens, and they had another pair to me in a couple of days with no hassle. They don’t offer the prescription lenses, variety of frames, or varied lens styles that Gunnar does, but NoScope glasses are a fraction of the price and work just as well in all my tests. NoScope seems to be aiming to have tons more people, gamer and otherwise, reducing eye strain and making frags with their glasses in the future; with new models like these, they’re certainly on the right track even if they have some work to do.
You can pick up the NoScope Hydras for $29.99 or the Orions for $19.99 from NoScope’s website.