New Spectacles Hands-on Review


These are Spectacles version 2.0. Now, if you’ve followed Spectacles history, you know it’s been a little bit rocky. Snap wound up writing down more than $40 million because it made more of these than they could sell. And even worse from Snaps perspective is that people who bought Spectacles didn’t really use them for very long.

According to a report, less than 50% of people who bought these were still using them a month later. So why is Snap trying again? Well, they think they’ve managed to solve customers biggest complaints about version one, that they were too bulky, that it was too hard to transfer videos from the glasses to your phone, and that they couldn’t take photos.

Here is version one, and you can see that this is just a heavier version of Spectacles. The piece where the arm meets the lens has a really kind of bulky piece where all the internals and the camera are located. And here I have version two. And as soon as you pick it up, you notice the difference in weight.

That piece where all the internals and the cameras are located is much smaller, and it just generally feels lighter when you put them on your face. Even with all the miniaturization that Snap did for this version of Spectacles, battery life is about the same, 70 video snaps with even more snaps if you’re taking photos. And the case is much smaller this time around too.

So here I have the case for version one, and here’s the case for version two, a lot smaller, a lot lighter, and if you have a big pocket, this version probably actually fits in it. Spectacles still work the same. This case actually is how you charge your Spectacles, so just by resting the glasses inside. It has a little contact point here, where it charges your glasses up to four times on a single charge of the case. And to figure out how much battery life you have left, you just double tap on the lens, and it’ll show you by how many lights go around the circle.

Recording works the same as well. You have a big button on top. You tap it, it records 10 seconds of a snap. If you wanna extend your snap, you can tap it two more times for a snap that’s up to 30 seconds long. The new feature this time around though is photo mode. So the first version only took video. This version takes photos. To do that, all you do is press down for a second, wait for the blink, and then release your finger. You’ve taken a high definition photo. And I should say something about high definition too.

New Snactacles

Last time around, you had the option of shooting in standard definition. This time around, both your photos and videos will all be shot in HD. Pixel density is about 25% greater than it was in version one. Of course, a signature feature of Spectacles was that it shot videos in a circular format, and as you would move your phone around, you could shift the perspective as you were looking. That returns this time around for both photos and videos. And so when you go to export them, you’ll see that all of your photos and videos have a little white border around them.

Another nice feature of version two is that these things are water-resistant, so you can jump into a pool, jump into the ocean, and not worry that they’re gonna break. And the case is splash-proof, so you can go ahead and bring that to the pool and just not worry about it. Snapchat has also worked on the transfer process. If you own version one, you know the worst thing about them was how long it took to get your snaps from your glasses onto your phone.

Snaps worked on the transfer technology and it now says that the transfer is three to four times faster than it was originally. The basic method for doing it is still the same. After you pair your Spectacles, you go into memories, where your old snaps are stored, tap an import button, then your phone has to join a wifi network set up by Spectacles, and only then will the snap transfer from the glasses onto your phone. It goes a little bit faster than that makes it sound, but it’s definitely not painless. My dream version of Spectacles would transfer automatically.

These Spectacles just aren’t there yet. I was a fan of the original Spectacleseven though they didn’t sell that well. But its also true that I didn’t use mine for very long after the first month that I got them. Are these gonna be any different? Well, I don’t know. On the one hand, they look really good. I like some of the design details here. There’s this kind of tapering color, where it moves from black into clear as you move down the length of the arm. There are two microphones in this version, which means that there’ll be less wind noise if you’re recording outdoors. And frankly, they just look like designer sunglasses, which they should be. They cost $150.

That’s 20 more dollars than they cost last time. Also, if you use prescription or polarized lenses and you live in the United States, when you go to buy your Spectacles on, you can specify that you want those lenses, and Snapchats working with a third-party provider to let you get those lenses put directly into your Spectacles when they ship to your house. So on the other hand, I’m not sure this is the product that’s gonna launch Snap all the way into the mainstream.

This is a really nice refinement over version one. It’s competitors like to copy every single thing it does, and if Snap wants to stay relevant, it has to be different. Say what you want about Spectacles, there’s nothing else like them.