March 30th, 2012

Steelseries Desmo by Gunnar Optiks

Testing

Methodology

So how does one test a pair of gaming glasses? Well over the course of several weeks I spent long periods of time wearing the glasses and not wearing them, comparing how my eyes felt before, after, during. I also played a lot of games.

I’m 100 hours deep in a new Mount and Blade Warband campaign now thanks to these glasses. And the game, because it rules.

Results

The Steelseries Desmo/ Gunnar Optiks glasses purport to do several things. All of these are somewhat subjective, so I’m going to adress each in turn and sum up why I think they work, or don’t.

Claim 1: Glare Reduction and Focus Improvement – Yes

Thanks to the yellow tint and minor .2 magnification of these glasses, I did indeed find viewing screens that bit easier. Harsher whites become a much more comfortable to view yellow, and the slight zoom makes small text easier to read. It’s not massive, but its noticable. Taking off the glasses with a white web page open often results in a short blinking session as your eyes readjust.

White web pages are just horrible. Stop using them.

There is however a slight contrast boost which is quite nice. The glare reduction means the yellow/off white doesn’t become blinding and the blacks are that bit darker. It’s not massive, but the real world feels a little blander once you take them off.

Claim 2: Minimise Eye Strain – Yes, to an extent

Impressively, they do actually work. I spend all day at my computer(s). I write for a living, from 9 (ok 10)am through till 6Pm, I’m writing on my work machine. Tap tap, tapping away. As soon as I’ve finished my day, I switch off, wander into the adjacent room and fire up my gaming PC. Maybe I’ll start up the Xbox, or pick up a book. Maybe I’ll have a play with some wargaming miniatures. All of it requires close up, detailed scrutiny.

This results in quite frequent eye strain, most days in-fact. It’s why I do my best to take several breaks to stare creepily into the distance throughout the day (it unfocuses the eyes and lets them relax, honest). I tell you this, because I want you understand, that I know what eye strain feels like. It’s a frequent problem for me that I have to make efforts to avoid. As a person who’s gone through Lasek eye surgery as well, I’m quite keen to keep my vision strong.

So it’s with pleasure that I can report that the Desmo’s do actually reduce eye strain. After several straight hours of wearing the glasses, my eyes didn’t feel achey. They still felt tired, I must stress this point. It doesn’t stop your eyes from telling you that you’ve been staring at a point 2ft infront of your face for too long, but it does help. There’s no jabbing pain above or behind the eye if you use these. A marked improvement.

It also – somehow – seems to help reduce eye dryness. I don’t really know how this works, but maybe it keeps air from circulating over the unblinking eye as much? In that case though wearing any sort of glasses would have this effect.

Claim 3: They’re comfortable – Mostly

This is the only claim made by Steelseries and Gunnar that I don’t totally agree with. Yes the glasses are more than comfortable on your nose and face. The only place they fall down a bit is on the ears. Now for the first hour or two, no problems at all. However, wear these with a heavy headset, or spend more than a couple hours and you’ll start to feel the edge of those black plastic arms digging into the cartiledge of your ear. You’ll find yourself rubbing them every 30 minutes to stimulate a bit of blood flow to the area.

It’s not horrendous, and as I say, quite comfortable, but how about a silicon pad on the ear piece?

Anything Else?

There’s one other point I would like to address and that’s that you don’t get a free hard case with these specs. The little cloth bag is nice and everything, but if I want to take these to a LAN party I want a hard case. Unfortuantely as well, unless you have a spare Aviator one, the giant lenses on these things aren’t going to fit into a standard glasses case.

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