Snap’s Spectacles for Snapchat are finally here in India and we’ve got our hands on them. Here’s our review of the Spectacles 3.
You probably wanted all the Spy Kids gadgets when you were young. We’re still a long way from making those sci-fi gadgets a reality, but we’re getting there. But if you’ve ever imagined glasses that could do a little bit of everything, say take pictures and videos or who knows, even X-ray vision, Snap’s Spectacles 3 are probably your best bet – a pair of smart sunglasses with two cameras to watch videos and to take pictures.
Spectacles 3 marks the debut of Snap’s first-ever hardware in India. As the name suggests, it is the third version of Snap’s Spectacles and has been available in the US for months now. Well, better late than never.
Before we go any further, here’s something you should know about smart glasses. Conceptually, they have always fascinated us, but it was difficult to replicate them in letter and spirit. Look no further than Google’s doomed (commercial) Google Glasses. Even Microsoft is targeting enterprises for its MR-based HoloLens. Apple and Facebook have invested in the AR, but have yet to experiment with glasses. In short, everyone wants such glasses, but the technology is not there yet.
Your normal sunglasses vs. Snap Spectacles
Snap has played with different designs for the Spectacles, with each generation offering a different one. Spectacles 3 offers round glasses, but the frame also extends at the top. The smart glasses are slightly heavier than normal sunglasses. Did it bother us? Not really. When I wore it for the first time, I felt a slight heaviness in my head, but it normalized after a few minutes.
We have received a black color unit. There is another ‘Mineral’ color with copper hue. The cameras on the sides are also large enough to attract everyone’s attention. An advantage of the Spectacles 3 is that you can change the lenses. So you can even turn it into your reading glasses if you want.
Learning how to use the glasses 3
Shooting videos with the Spectacles 3 is easy because you just have to press one of the two buttons. Spectacles 3 takes videos of 10 seconds at a time and you can press the button again to continue recording for up to a minute. Once it starts recording, an LED light will appear on the camera lens to let others know that something is up! The videos are recorded in HD resolution.
We did find the duration of 10 seconds for video recordings a bit too short. When asked why this time limit is, Steen Strand, Snap’s Director at Hardware, said, “We’ve already increased it by one minute and you can do a one minute continuous recording. What we find is that for this kind of video collection that is expensive, it is good in terms of the type of content collecting and sharing on social media.”
Snaps captured using Spectacles 3 appear in the Memories section of your Snapchat app. It will take a few seconds for the Snaps to transfer and reflect on your app. You can also choose to save these Snaps to your phone’s camera roll or manually export them later. There are various formats to export videos to, such as 16:9, VR and more.
Strand also clarified how increasing the resolution would lead to larger file sizes and that it would lead to longer loading times. “Of course the quality gets better as we go through time and the transfer rates increase, but we’re always balancing between those different issues,” he said.
What else you can do with Snap Spectacles 3
A major upgrade in the Spectacles 3 is the ability to shoot 3D videos and photos. Snap also ships the Google Cardboard VR headset along with the Spectacles 3 for a better experience. It’s a nice addition because you can watch all VR content from any smartphone.
If you were wondering if the Spectacles 3 has an AR feature, something Snap is most popular for, you’re wrong. Most of the magic still happens on Snapchat.
The Spectacles click and record in a square aspect ratio, meaning you can orient your media any way you want. Snapchat has optimized the app for the same, so turning your smartphone sideways gives you the illusion of having a wider field of view.
Since it has two lenses, Snapchat has printed 3D branding all over the product. However, the effect is very limited. The filters also labeled as “3D” are essentially AR filters and don’t live up to the full potential of dual lenses. But the VR headset is something you wouldn’t take with you on your own, so it’s not that big of a deal, but it’s a missed opportunity nonetheless.
What’s it like to see the Spectacles 3 . to use
The video quality is good as it is HD. I tried to shoot a video at night but the result was grainy as expected. As easy as it is to make Spectacles 3 videos, we also need to be steady in our movements. Even small movements can result in shaky videos.
Unfortunately, given the current situation, I couldn’t take the Spectacles 3 with me for better videos. But I still managed to experience it outside as much as possible. The Spectacles 3 are said to get about 70 Snaps on a single charge. While I didn’t shoot that many videos, I did notice that the Spectacles 3 stops working when it gets too hot. This was not surprising though, as it was very hot outside around 37 degrees Celsius.
Should you buy it?
Remember the discussions we had about choosing a smartwatch versus a premium wristwatch. Speakers vs Smart Speakers. Years later, they both have their own audience or aficionados. In the case of Snap Spectacles, we think the same. The difference is that this space has had no fixed frame of reference or ecosystem. It’s just an incremental improvement year after year.
Bee ₹29,999, it is indeed expensive. In fact they are priced little more expensive than what they do in the US. Using the Spectacles 3 is certainly a nice experience, but some of the negatives like weak stabilization and slower loading times are some of the drawbacks.
It is without a doubt a novelty. If you’re one of those who want to invest in a futuristic technology and don’t mind its limitations, Spectacles 3 is worth a try. And if price is a concern, you can probably go for the Spectacles 2 which don’t have 3D support but are certainly much cheaper. Otherwise, you’ll be fine without it for now.