Hands on: Smith Optics I/O Recon Goggle

Hands on: Smith Optics I/O Recon Goggle

What it is
The Smith Optics I/O Recon is a unisex performance ski/snowboard goggle enhanced with a wide-screen LCD built into the goggle that displays a wide variety of information, including speed, altitude, vertical, distance, location, and jump analytics.

The Good
• Tracks speed, vertical, altitude, distance, location, temperature, buddy locations, resort points of interest, and jump analytics
• Excellent beginner tutorial and overall user interface
• Seamless computer and Smartphone integration via Engage (App and online)
• High-quality optics with spherical lens shape and anti-fog coating

The Bad
• Slightly heavy
• Hefty pricetag at $650

The Verdict
The Smith Optics I/O Recon is both an excellent goggle, and a tech nerd’s dream. Some of the features are helpful on slope or chairlift (buddy tracking, text message displays, navigation), and some are just interesting (ski stats). Though the battery life is barely enough to take you through a full day, both the tech system and goggle are extremely well designed, making it worth the price of admission only for users who will want or need all that data.

Full review
Tech Performance
The tech features of the I/O Recon worked extremely well. It launches with an easy-to-follow beginner tutorial and has a very simple user interface.

The GPS-enabled system operates via an in-goggle LCD, a tiny screen at the bottom right of the goggle lens interior. The screen is mounted on an arm with little joints that can be moved and customized for proper visual placement. A simple-to-use wireless remote, which can be mounted on a wrist with the included strap, runs the show, toggling between user options on the LCD screen.

The list of tech features is impressive; users can track speed, vertical, altitude, distance, location, temperature, jump analytics (supposedly it can track your airtime and height in the park—we didn’t test that), and even buddy locations and resort points of interest. Via a Bluetooth connection to a Smartphone, users can also control their music flow, view text messages, and see caller ID stats. All of these features worked very well during testing.

The Recon system also linked to my computer via Recon’s Engage software, which allows me to load stats for viewing on a bigger screen or posting to Facebook. Recon also has an Engage App that links to Smartphones.

Ease of Use
Smith’s I/O Recon system was surprisingly easy to use—right out of the box. In fact, this high-tech goggle exceeded our expectations, especially for a first generation product.

The user interface toggles simply between a lineup of options (I.e. track speed/altitude, control music, or track location on the compass). The remote controlled the experience without any hassle.

The battery life is fair—a full charge (about four hours) lasts for approximately five to six hours of average use on the slopes. That’s barely going to get you from first chair to last chair.

Fit & Comfort
This goggle fits comfortably, and the MOD Live system didn’t seem to add much noticeable weight to the equation.

While the LCD text is quite small, the display offers enough contrast and definition so that even presbyopic users (those requiring reading glasses) will view it fairly well.

Optical Performance
The Smith Optics I/O Recon also served up solid optical performance courtesy of the spherical lens and anti-fog coating. Lens fogging is also combated with Smith’s Vaporator lens technology, which employs a small in-lens filter that allows moisture stuck between the double lenses to get out.
Additionally, the I/O Recon’s quick-release lens system also worked well; the package comes with two performance mirror lenses.

This goggle is two to four times the price of similar goggles. If you don’t really care about all that tech connectivity, you’d be wasting your money. Otherwise, think of it like an iPhone for your eyes.