Hands-on with the SteelSeries Gunnar Desmo Performance Glasses
Jonathan | On 08, Jul 2013
If you’re a gamer who follows technology, there’s absolutely no doubt you’ve either seen or at least heard of Gunnar Optiks–famous for bringing “gaming eyewear” into the mainstream spotlight.
The typical assortment of amber colored glasses often align the peripheral sections in retail storefronts, I’ve seen them generally positioned in retailers right alongside more competitive play options such as Call of Duty and StarCraft 2. For years now, I’ve heard people dismiss Gunnar glasses as being useless or arguing PC gamers can get the same effect from installing an application called F.lux. While does F.lux does help with eyestrain, comparing F.lux to Gunnar’s eyewear is like comparing actual glasses to the Windows Magnifying tool.
With time, Gunnar has sponsored quite a few professional E-Sports teams, and gained visibility by being wrapped around the faces of some of the most notable players in their respective games. Marcus Hill, better known to the League of Legends community as “Dyrus” from the professional League of Legends team – Team Solo Mid, is seen wearing his Gunnar glasses just as often outside of the game as he does while playing.
Does he wear them because they’re a product he believes in, or simply because they’re a sponsor who pays the bills?
If I had to guess, I’d say it’s both.
Several of us attended PAX East, back in March, and I made sure to visit Gunnar Optiks. While talking with Bryan Masucci, their marketing manager, I was treated to a few tales from some of the employees who were helping out around the booth. One guy spoke about his slight vision problems, which while not bad by any typical measure, required he wear prescription glasses. He told me that after prolonged use of Gunnar eyewear, his eyes were actually able to correct themselves as they were no longer being strained constantly, thanks to the eye-relaxing technology found within Gunnar’s products. That’s an awfully bold statement to make if it’s not true, considering there were many members of the press roaming around to hear his testimony.
After seeing Gunnar at PAX East, I just knew I had to try them for myself – if for no other reason than to see what the fuss was about. A few days later, I received a pair of SteelSteries branded Gunnars, named Desmo. While they’re not the prettiest looking glasses, they certainly have a special sort of charm to them. The large, partially frameless glass helps to make sure your eyes aren’t constantly wandering around the outside of your vision window. I immediately appreciated this, as my personal glasses often have me looking through a silver frame that urges my eyes to look past the boundaries.
With the Desmo model, you can’t really see anything but the amber glass if you’re wearing them properly. There are slight boundaries based on how the temples are fused to the glasses, but it’s minimal and my eyes don’t even notice it. The only real downside is looking like a fly, but the amber lenses are accented by the sleek black wired temples that are coated about halfway down in a clear on the front, orange on the back type of (acrylic?) plastic.
SteelSeries is a brand that I’ve personally come to trust in terms of quality and performance with their products.
I’ve personally owned numerous SteelSeries products and had far less issues with them than I have any other large scale manufacturer. Seeing that SteelSeries believes in Gunnar enough to put their name on two different models says a lot to me as a consumer. The Desmo is very well made, and feels very sturdy despite how minimally put together it appears. For some people with a larger head, the glasses may feel a little tight but they should be easy to readjust as the metal temples are firm but flexible. When I put the Desmo on, and I was immediately comfortable in them. No readjustment necessary, they seemed to just fit my head perfectly out of the package. That said, while you can certainly tell an immediate difference by putting them on, I still needed my regular glasses in order to see clearly enough to feel comfortable for any real amount of time. I arranged the Desmo glasses to sit on my head over my regular glasses and while it’s not the most comfortable solution, it does the job and that’s when I really started to appreciate what Gunnar’s products actually do.
Despite being wary that the amber lenses would discolor things, I actually found that the Gunnar lenses made colors a bit more vibrant and certain things just seemed to stand out more. Games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and other competitive FPS titles often have me losing sight of my crosshair when the action gets hot and heavy, and the Desmo gave me the ability to re-locate it very quickly even in the most frantic of moments. You’ll also immediately notice that the Gunnar glasses give everything a bit of a magnified look, bringing things just slightly closer. It is enough to notice an immediate difference when taking them off/putting them back on.
Magnification and color-pop are nice, but do those things justify a pair of glasses costing nearly $100? No, not really.
What justifies the cost is how much better my eyes feel while wearing them.
The best way I can describe what wearing Gunnar glasses feels like for me, is that while I wear them, I feel like I’ve got eye drops in that are soothing my eyes. I’m not a fan of putting eye drops in, and getting this feeling by wearing glasses instead of putting liquid into my face is a godsend for me. My eyes feel more rested and I feel like I have to “focus” a lot less, putting far less strain on my eyes and helping alleviate both tension and that burning feeling you get after playing for a while. Perhaps the biggest thing for me is not having the blurry vision from “straining” my eyes after a few hours of playing. Because of this, I’m actually planning on ordering a pair of prescription Gunnars next week after I get my annual eye exam.
I went into this expecting Gunnars to be little more than a cute novelty with some nice but not necessary benefits. After using the product for a while, I can honestly say that I’m a believer and fully recommend Gunnar Optiks to anyone who gets eye strain or headaches from gaming. SteelSeries wouldn’t put their name on a product they didn’t believe in, and the Desmo is a quality product that isn’t just another marketing gimmick.
The SteelSeries Desmo is available from their webstore and other online retailers for MSRP $99.99. The SteelSeries Desmo glasses were provided for review by SteelSeries.