Snapchat Spectacles: Fun New Tech Toy for 2017?

Snapchat has launched a Google Glass/GoPro hybrid pair of sunglasses. They cost a fraction of the failed Google Glass—they’re GoPro for your face–use these specs to capture your adventures while on the go.

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How do they work?

They record video snippets that automatically save to your Snapchat Memories, a new feature in Snapchat that stores all your saved snaps, stories and locked content. The sunglasses feature a camera with a 115-degree lens, with the purpose of mimicking how humans actually see. Okay. You do have to be a Snapchat user, but that’s easy. Create an account and get started.

Just tap a button to record

To record a snap (picture or video), tap a button the top left-hand corner of your Snapchat specs. It will automatically stop recording after 10 seconds; tap again to add another 10-second increment. You’ll see an inward-facing light when you’re snapping, and an outward-facing-light will show other that you’re recording and they’re in your field of view.

The problem: Not everyone wants to be included in your Snapchat video

Snapchat is assuming that everyone is going to know about the Snapchat Specs and be on the alert for flashing lights on sunglasses.

Snapchat Spectacles’ batteries will last about a day, and the outward-facing light on the sunglasses will serve as a battery indicator that you can double tap to see how much life is left. Recharge with the charging case and cable that comes with the Spectacles.

Cost and availability

The one-size-fits-all glasses cost $129.99 in your choice of black, teal or coral. Here’s where it gets interesting. Snapchat said it is only making a limited number of Snapchat Spectacles and the company plans to cautiously roll them out.

They didn’t hit the market until November 10; we can apparently buy Snapchat Spectacles only from yellow vending machines called Snapbots that will travel around the country selling them. They started with Snap’s headquarters in California, and each Snapbot will be in place for about a day. Track Snapbots using a map on the Spectacles website to find out when they’ll be in your area. Snapchat Spectacles can only be purchased from these Snapbots, so these become little pop-up stores. (A caveat: every time I go to the website to find a Bot, the Bot is sleeping, so manage your expectations.) You can go to the Snapchat Spectacles website, scan a QR code, add a Spectacles lens to Snapchat and try them on virtually.

Snapchat Spectacles: the hot new tech toy?

They’re fun, slick and affordable. They hit the market later than promised, and sheer logistics translated to the Spectacles’ not reaching critical mass for the holiday shopping frenzy. They’re showing up on eBay with price tags of up to $900. While we have to admire that entrepreneurial spirit, that’s more than 6x its original $129 pricetag. Is it worth it? Depends on whether you need to be the one who has the latest tech toy. If you do, you know that price is irrelevant, and the supply and demand issues—trying to find a snapbot in your neighborhood can be challenging–make them more desirable.

To keep in mind

Snapchat glasses’ videoclips are low-res and jerky–shooting from your eyes means that you’re not steadying the camera with your hands as you would in a traditional filming effort. Also—for those who love recording themselves at every available opportunity–no selfies.

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