Spectacles may be the single most millennial thing I’ve ever purchased but — darn it — I actually enjoy using them. Though, beyond having some very occasional fun with them, I’m not sure the eyewear are worth the $130 price tag.
The good stuff | Spectacles feel surprisingly sturdy, they work well and pair easily with users’ Snapchat accounts. The charging case protects the eyewear and keeps them charged — so running out of juice usually isn’t a problem.
The bad stuff | Spectacles don’t feel like premium eyewear, but they cost almost as much as a pair of Oakleys or Ray-Bans. Spectacles only come in three colors (teal, coral and black) and they aren’t polarized or waterproof.
The sunglasses, which aren’t actually polarized, look silly but work really well for their camera function. I also found myself using Snapchat a whole lot more often for a couple weeks after getting the Spectacles. I’ve now had the Specs for about three months and my use of the disappearing messages app averages about 3-4 snaps a week, with the expensive eyewear being used even less often.
On the other hand, if you’re a devoted Snapchat user these Spectacles would probably get a lot more use.
From a distance, the Spectacles look fairly symmetrical. Up close, you’ll notice the two dark circles in the top left corners of the sunglasses’ face house different pieces of tech. When facing the Specs, the left corner is the camera that captures videos in 10-second bursts and the right corner is your countdown. Rather than a steady red light to show the glasses are capturing video, the countdown uses small white lights that spin clockwise.
Flipping the Spectacles over, with them still folded up, on the left side there are four small metal-looking circles. These little connectors are where the spectacles magnetically lock into their case for charging.
Still looking at the backside of the spectacles, with them unfolded now, in the left-inside corner is a small dot. The dot is actually another white light that indicates to the wearer when the 10-second recording session is almost up. That way, the person using the Spectacles can hit the record button a second time and get 10 more seconds of recording in.
The only other important thing on the sunglasses is the actual record button, which is located on the (top) front-left corner (near the lens) while the Spectacles are on your face. Because of the placement of the button, recording video doesn’t look very obvious — it almost looks like you’re just adjusting the the Specs. If not for the silly design and flashing white lights, these things could (maybe) pass as spy glasses.
Inside the case, you also get a USB 2.0 cable for charging. Rather than plugging the USB straight into the glasses, you place the glasses in the case (remember those magnetic connectors, they make the glasses snap into place). The cable plugs into another set of four charging dots on the back of the case (also magnetic). The case actually carries an extra four charges for the Spectacles, so you shouldn’t have to constantly be looking for a place to plug in.
Charging the case takes about an hour. You can check to see how charged the case is by hitting a button on one of the triangular ends. If four lights light up, the case is fully charged.
How to use Spectacles
Using Spectacles is easy: You wear them on your face and hit record. If you have longer hair, you’ll have to be a bit more conscious of when your locks block the camera. But other than that, shooting is a breeze.
Luckily, getting the footage off the Specs and onto your phone is easy too. Just make sure your phone’s Bluetooth is on and open the Snapchat app.
In the top-left corner of the Snapchat app, tap on the ghost icon. This will take you to your profile. Next, tap the gear in the top-right corner. You’ll find yourself on the settings page, where you should see Spectacles on the list. After tapping Spectacles, you’ll get to the are of the app that’ll guide you through painlessly pairing your sunglasses.
The next time you want to sync your specs or see what you recorded, hit the circle in the bottom-middle of Snapchat’s main screen. Under the Spectacles menu, you can edit the glasses’ snaps, share them on Snapchat or save the circular video to your phones’ camera roll (to then share on other social accounts). When Spectacles videos ae shared on sites like Twitter, Instagram and others, the footage appears as a circle. Here’s an example:
Step 1, open Snapchat.
Step 2, open my Lifting with Arnold story.
Step 3: learn and laugh. pic.twitter.com/2pt6cNTdFv
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) February 8, 2017
Recommend to a friend?
Yes and no.
If my friend were a heavy Snapchat user and money wasn’t an issue, heck yes I’d recommend Spectacles. They’re fun and so easy to use. But they’re not at all necessary.
I took Spectacles to CES, hoping to use them a bunch at the electronics trade show earlier this year, but I rarely took them out. The problem was that I already had my phone handy each time I wanted to record something. And getting the footage from the specs to any of the social apps I was using would’ve taken extra time.
Spectacles work great if the footage you’re shooting doesn’t need to be shared quickly. Spectacles also work great if you’re always wearing the sunglasses — which I wasn’t at CES and haven’t really ever done since I got them.
How to buy
For the mean time, Snap is only making it easy to buy its Spectacles on the East and West coasts of the U.S. Every so often the company drops a what it calls a bot in different cities around the country. These bots are basically Spectacles vending machines and can become sold out quickly. If you go the bot route, you’ve got to keep an eye on this page and act quickly if one drops near you.
There are also two non-official routes to buy Spectacles: eBay, where users trying to sell the sunglasses for well over asking price. And the friend route: You call a friend in New York City. That friend buys Specs. That friend sends the Specs to you. You refund the friend for the Specs and shipping — and end up paying roughly $150.
Update (2/20/17): You can now buy Spectacles online on Snaps’s website as long as you live in the U.S.