Snapchat Spectacles: video is sketchy but really, so what?

Snapchat Spectacles: video is sketchy but really, so what?

Jefferson Graham reviews the new Snapchat Spectacles video sunglasses, a fun toy that lets you shoot 10-second video clips hands free, on #TalkingTech. Video by Jefferson Graham


LOS ANGELES — For a short span Thursday, consumers got a chance to buy Snapchat’s new $129 Spectacles. Within a few hours, they were gone.

USA TODAY wasn’t one of the lucky ones, even after a two-hour wait, but we got to borrow a pair to test out.

Here’s the download.

The specs let you record on-the-fly 10-second video clips that can be played back in the updated Snapchat app, for more spontaneous, on-the-moments.

The glasses are stylish and a whole lot of fun. Snapchat has done a great job at making the operation drop-dead simple. But if you’re looking for great video quality, stick with a camera or smartphone. The clips are low-res and really jerky — shooting from your eyes doesn’t allow for any steadiness help from the hands.

Like Google Glass, the late, $1,500 and since discontinued futuristic eyewear, Spectacles are meant to capture moments wherever we are, and that could create for awkward times. I wore them to the gym and picked up a clip walking in the door, which meant I was probably invading everyone’s personal space. (I deleted it.) Moments in restaurants, bars and other open settings would have to also be considered intrusive.

I see folks using Spectacles in social situations, but buyer beware: if used at a party or other evening gathering, the video quality will be pretty poor; at least it was for me when I shot inside. (The camera does better in daylight.)

But then again, no one is buying Spectacles for great video quality. They want Spectacles because they’re colorful, cool and for the time being, represent an instant status symbol status, because they are so rare.

Snapchat’s hard to get video glasses, Spectacles, went on sale Thursday in a vending machine on the beach in California. They sold out within 4 hours. Jefferson Graham reports

Snapchat is selling Spectacles not online, or at retail, but via a bright yellow vending machine attached to yellow balloons that will just show up unannounced. The Snap Bot appeared on the Venice Beach boardwalk Thursday for the first time and attracted long, long lines. Each bot will only make its appearance for one-24-hour period, says Snapchat and there’s no word for where it’s headed to next.

Check and scroll to the bottom of the page, for the “Find a Bot” section to see if there’s a Bot sighting in your neighborhood. As of this writing, no new sightings have been scheduled.

Spectacles basics:

Begin by charging the specs. You need to connect the USB to the back of the glasses case.

Once done, pair the glasses with the Snapchat app (again, make sure to update to the latest IOS or Android version.)

Once charged, click the right button atop the glasses, and it starts recording 10-second video snippets of our lives. You’ll know, and those around you will know, that you’re recording because a light goes in a circular motion to indicate recording status.

The clips themselves get wirelessly sent to Snapchat, where you can view, share and save them to your camera roll. The video is in a new, circular format. But on Snapchat, they are processed and flattened. Outside Snapchat, they’re round.

Again, the video looks fine on Snapchat, but if you save and send them to your computer for viewing on a bigger screen, not so good.

Not that I really cared, nor do I think anyone else will. Spectacles is a fun toy, and easily the must-have gift of the holiday season–if you can find one.

Good luck.

Follow USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham on Twitter, @jeffersongraham and listen to the daily #TalkingTech podcast on Stitcher and iTunes.

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