Last year the company behind Snapchat launched Spectacles, these wearable sunglasses that included a camera that you could use with the Snapchat app that offered a unique way to capture moments and share them with your friends. And I really liked Spectacles. They were fun and unique but they obviously didn’t catch on. This year, Snap Inc is back with Spectacles V2 and in a lot of ways, these are very similar to what we saw last year, but in other ways, they’ve made some changes, both positive and negative, to a product that unfortunately has a difficult time reaching an audience.
Unlike last year where Spectacles could only be purchased from random pop up vending machines around the country, this year you can just go to the Spectacles website and order any pair you’d like. That’s great since they’re readily available but I guess it does sort of kill the artificial hype that really perpetuated the aura around then last year.
There’s also some new color choices and lens options, the blue is a little more subtle and the red is now ruby, but the design and style of Spectacles remains basically the same. The arms transition to that clear plastic towards the end but you’ve got those big round lenses with the camera and light indicator on the corners, and while some people might find them kind of goofy, maybe even really goofy, I don’t hate it.
One of the biggest changes to V2 is the charging case these come with. It’s still this triangular shaped bright yellow thing, but it’s way smaller, about half the size as the previous version. It’s still not quite slim enough to fit in your pocket or anything but snap did a good job bringing down some of the bulk. They also come with the same weird propriety charging cable for the case which is sort of inconvenient but I guess not really a huge deal.
As far as the battery life, you’re going to get about the same use on a single charge as last year’s glasses. You can take up to 70 10 second video snaps and the case can charge the glasses four times on the go. What’s different this time around though is you can also just take regular old pictures with the Spectacles too, which you for some reason couldn’t do last year. And I think that little addition is one of the most valuable changes with Version 2.
Overall, the new Spectacles are a little lighter and they feel a little more flexible than last years, so for me, they actually sit on my big head a little better this time around, especially around the sides, they don’t pinch so much. The tech part of Spectacles, the camera and button and indicator light on the corners of the lenses, those modules are also a little slimmer too
When you’re interacting with the glasses, everything is also pretty much the same as last year. The glasses only work specifically with the Snapchat app, you still can’t use them as a stand-alone sort of video capturing accessory, and that’s pretty frustrating but it’s understandable. Setup is just a matter of opening the app and pressing and holding the the button on the glasses and that’s pretty much it, you’re ready to take pictures and videos on the go and everything you capture will get saved to the Snapchat app. Snap said that they also improved how your captured moments sync with the app and the phone, and I have to say I really noticed a difference here too. Videos especially are synced to the app way faster this time around and you can save them to your camera roll more quickly as well. Overall it’s a much faster, much easier experience getting the videos from the glasses to your phone in order to add to your story or save.
The moments you capture with Spectacles are once again in that unique circular format which sort of makes sense when you’re looking at it from the app since you can rotate your phone around and the video stays centered, but it doesn’t translate all that well anywhere else unfortunately. And video quality is good but not great, it’s noticeably better than last year for sure, but I also think you sort of have to keep your expectations realistic considering what they are. Snap also made Spectacles version 2 water resistant, and that’s awesome because now these are an even better summer time exercise for the pool or the lake or wherever.
So I basically said this when I checked out Spectacles last year but I’ll say it again, they’re weird and they look kind of dumb and they’re totally unnecessary but I do really like them, and I especially like the idea behind them. Imagine if these didn’t look as goofy and had a more tradition design or better yet, imagine if the camera module was just sold separately and could be attached to any pair of sunglasses like what PogoCam did a while back. Or just imagine if Spectacles could be used outside of Snapchat and could take normal 16:9 videos and pictures saved to your camera roll. That would make these a really awesome and genuinely worthwhile product. If that were the case, Snap probably wouldn’t have lost $40 million on them last year and people probably would’ve used them for longer than a week. It’s also doesn’t help that Snapchat is slowly dying, but hey maybe Instagram will make their own pair. Just make sure they’re cheaper than $150 bucks. Yeah, Snap even bumped up the price for version 2. Kind of ridiculous.
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