Snap Spectacles review: Fun that’s totally worth the trouble – The Verge

 In Technology

Spectacles are the camera-equipped sunglasses that were introduced earlier this year by the company formerly known as Snapchat. The glasses were announced at the same time that Snapchat, now known as Snap, Inc., started calling itself a “camera company.”

At a really high level, Spectacles are all about giving Snapchat users a more immediate way to record videos (but not photos) that get sent right back into the app. They are supposed to remove the last few layers of friction from the already pretty frictionless process of recording video with your smartphone. Spectacles also let you capture the world around you without removing you from that world. And Snap thinks Spectacles will let you capture things from a unique perspective.

After using Spectacles for about a week, I found most of these things to be true. The glasses offer the quickest means of recording a short 10- to 30-second video clip, shorter than even the amount of time a GoPro would take were you to have one strapped on at all times. Spectacles make it possible to capture those moments without needing to stare at or through your phone’s screen — though the time you spend away from your phone when using Spectacles winds up going right back into the process of reviewing and posting those videos to Snapchat.

There are a few other frustrations, too. But they feel minor when compared to the power of the point of view that Spectacles afford. The eye-level perspective is fantastic, especially when you’re using Spectacles around friends and family, or interacting with something that’s an arm’s length away. That POV is different enough to change the intensity of the emotional connection to the footage you capture — even if you never wind up sharing it with your friends or posting it to your Snapchat story.

This is true even for the most boring Spectacles footage. Videos I shot while picking up my laundry, making coffee, or taking out the trash look and feel more like memories than any other kind of video I’ve recorded in the past. With that in mind, though, it’s the videos like the ones I shot of Moose that I’ll want to keep on my phone or my computer for years.

The most initially remarkable thing about Spectacles is how much Snap got right in making them. At the most basic level, Spectacles are very good sunglasses. They’re a bit tight on my relatively big head, but that’s to be expected for a one-size-fits-all kind of product. And even though they were tight, it didn’t stop me from wearing them for entire days spent walking around the city.

The plastic frames don’t feel cheap or brittle, and yet they’re also not heavy — even though they’re full of electronics. I expected them to be front-heavy if anything, but they’re well balanced and comfortable. Other than the fact that you can see the circles in each corner of the glasses, they feel as normal as any other relatively inexpensive pair of sunglasses.

Snap also deserves some praise for the Spectacles carrying case, too. Shaped like an oversized Toblerone box, it has a slightly cushy Snapchat-yellow foam exterior that should help if you ever drop the thing. You’ll want to keep the case with you, too, because it carries four extra charges, and heavy use (snapping 20 or 30 10-second videos in a half hour) will put a serious hurt on Spectacles’ battery. Really light use — think an average of a video per hour — can stretch the battery to about a day. (Spectacles will also drain your phone’s battery, since it’s using Bluetooth to transfer the videos. In my experience, this meant I was left with at least 10 percent less battery every day on my iPhone 7 compared to my normal usage.)

Spectacles come with a magnetic USB 2.0 charging cord that you can connect to the glasses themselves, and the magnetic end also snaps onto the case to charge it, too. The best way to charge the glasses is in the case, though, where — when folded up — they magnetically attach and stay in place.

At $129, Spectacles are not exactly cheap. That price is on par with a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses, and the quality is probably a notch or two below them. The words “fun” and “toy” were used a lot by Snap CEO Evan Spiegel when he first described Spectacles to The Wall Street Journal in September. But he was right to use those words.

If you have the money, and are lucky enough to live near one of the pop-up vending machines, know that Spectacles are a total blast to use. They require so little extra thought and planning — just keep them on and tap the button on the left any time you want to record a video. There’s a little light inside the glasses that glows while you’re recording, and it blinks when you’re almost out of time. When it comes to shooting video, Spectacles couldn’t make it any easier.

Spectacles are a way for Snap to study the reaction to wearable cameras

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