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Smith I/O Lens Review

Written by Dugald Morrow   
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
  
Hitting the market in time for the 2007/2008 season, Smith's I/O goggles promise to shake up Goggle styles for some time to come. The goggles have vertually no rim around the lenses resulting in a sleeker look and allowing lenses to be more easily swapped. The spherical lens shape and lack of frame also results a great field of view.

Almost Frameless

Smith I/O Lens - Wall StreetOf course all goggles must have a frame to keep the lenses in place and protect your eyes from the elements. Smith's I/O goggles are no exception, however, the frames have a much lower profile and do not cover all of the lens edges which gives the overall effect of being non-existent.

Fog Prevention Technology

Dual lenses are normally separated by foam spacers, however, the edges exposed by the I/O's frameless design would allow moisture between the lenses. Smith have overcome this problem using their patented Vaporator technology which essentially replaces the foam spacer with an air tight silicon bead. The process of robotically cutting and bonding the lenses eliminates de-lamination and consequently between-the-lens fogging.

Lens Swapping

For most people, changing the lens at the start of the day will be sufficient and Smith has made this about as easy as it can be with their intuitive design. There are two latches at the top of the goggles that slot into the lens and lock it in place. Unlocking the latches allows the lens to be released from the frames and another lens to take its place.

Although the interchangable lens technology is a key feature of the goggles, in reality I imagine only the most serious skiers and snowboarders would change lenses on the slopes - here's why:
  • Changing lenses is still a little tedious and not easy with ski gloves on.
  • The spare lens will require protection, preferably in a hard case - only a minority of skiers and snowboarders carry backpacks.
  • Changing lenses frequently will presumably increase wear which most people will want to avoid.

Included Lenses

The goggles come with two lenses:
  • Ignitor Mirror (pre-installed) - a versatile lens with good depth perception qualities - good for most conditions.
  • Sensor Mirror - increases color definition and increases depth perception in flat and low light conditions.

Additional Lenses

Smith offers the following additional lenses for their I/O series:
  • Sol-X - for very bright and sunny conditions.
  • Platinum Mirror - for very sunny to partly cloudy conditions.
  • RC36 - a versatile lens with good glare reduction qualities - good for generally brighter conditions.
  • Yellow - optimised for flat and low light conditions.
  • Gold Mirror Sol-X - optimised to reduce glare in sunny conditions.
  • Gold Mirror - increases depth perception in flat and low light conditions.
  • Clear - optimised for use at night.

Helmet Integration

The I/Os integrate well with most helmets. It seems as though Smith has paid particular attention to the
integration of the I/Os with their Hustle helmets as they seem to achieve an especially snug fit together.

Technology details from Smith

  • Full interchangeability with the flip of a switch allows quick and easy lens changing for optimal performance in all conditions
  • Carbonic-X™ lens is individually molded to offer optimum scratch resistance, increased visual acuity and enhanced contrast sensitivity
  • Smith Spherical series lenses allow a wide field of vision and increased volume to maximize airflow and reduce fogging
  • Tapered Lens Technology (TLT) straightens refracted light rays by tapering the lens from optical center toward the periphery
  • TLT provides distortion-free vision for the most accurate interpretation of the terrain that lies ahead
  • Pre-installed Ignitor Mirror lens enhances contrast and depth perception in all conditions; allows 35% visible light transmission (VLT)
  • Sensor Mirror lens (included) maximizes color definition and increases depth perception in varying levels of flat-light conditions; 70% VLT
  • Robotically cut lenses bonded together with an airtight silcone bead eliminate lens delamination, the number one cause of between-the-lens fogging
  • Porex™ microporous filter attached to the lens increases fog resistance by allowing air molecules to pass through while blocking water molecules
  • Medium-fit frame accommodates a mid-size face, and fits comfortably under a helmet
  • QuickFit™ strap adjustment system secures the fit whether wearing a helmet or hat
  • Compatible with a wide variety of helmets
  • Includes a microfiber storage bag with replacement lens sleeve and a protective hard case

Acknowledgments

Thanks to www.smithoptics.com.au for supplying images and technical details.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 18 November 2008 )
 

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