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Up close with Google Clips

Our high-quality photos of Google's intelligent camera.

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seanhollister.jpg
Sean Hollister
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
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james-martin-profile-crop
James Martin Managing Editor, Photography
James Martin is the Managing Editor of Photography at CNET. His photos capture technology's impact on society - from the widening wealth gap in San Francisco, to the European refugee crisis and Rwanda's efforts to improve health care. From the technology pioneers of Google and Facebook, photographing Apple's Steve Jobs and Tim Cook, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Google's Sundar Pichai, to the most groundbreaking launches at Apple and NASA, his is a dream job for any documentary photography and journalist with a love for technology. Exhibited widely, syndicated and reprinted thousands of times over the years, James follows the people and places behind the technology changing our world, bringing their stories and ideas to life.
Expertise photojournalism, portrait photography, behind-the-scenes Credentials
  • 2021 Graphis Photography Awards, Gold Award, Journalism, 'The Doorway' Graphis Photography Awards, Silver Award, Portrait, 'Cast of film '1917'' Graphis Photography Awards, Silver Award, Environmental, 'Upper Lola Montez' ND Awards, Architecture, 'Taj Mah
Sean Hollister
James Martin
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1 of 14 James Martin/CNET

This is the Google Clips, and it's truly a camera like none that have come before. This 2-inch square has a built-in miniature neural network (think simple AI) and computer vision chip, so it can take the pictures for you. Just set it down and turn it on. And by pictures, we mean 7-second soundless video clips a la animated GIFs.

It's designed to recognize faces, kids and pets in particular. So it's for families, pretty much.

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2 of 14 James Martin/CNET

Three guesses why it's called the Google Clips? First two don't count.

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3 of 14 James Martin/CNET

You just turn the dial to fire up the camera -- I can easily do it with one hand.

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4 of 14 James Martin/CNET

Then clip the camera close to where the action's about to happen. It captures a wide-angle 130-degree field of view, so it's best if your kids or pets are doing something fun about 3 to 8 feet away.

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5 of 14 James Martin/CNET

The clip also helps it stand up on surfaces that aren't flat. The LED's always on when it's recording, so it doesn't look like a spycam.

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6 of 14 James Martin/CNET

All kinds of fun ways to use the Clips.

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7 of 14 James Martin/CNET

You can also take that rubbery case off. (It looks like a Certs mint, no? It keeps the Clips from looking dusty.)

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8 of 14 James Martin/CNET

When the case is off, the Clips can stand on its own too.

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9 of 14 James Martin/CNET

There's a nice big shutter button beneath the lens if you want to trigger it manually yourself, and another in the companion app -- where you can get a live preview.

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10 of 14 James Martin/CNET

The clip only opens so far, mind you -- not quite half an inch, but close. This drawer is about the max you can do.

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11 of 14 James Martin/CNET

For other applications, though, you can buy a case with a built-in tripod mount. This one's made by Incipio.

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12 of 14 James Martin/CNET

It's simple enough, but it ain't cheap at US$250. (It's not available in the UK or Australia.)

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13 of 14 James Martin/CNET

Yes, we did. 

No, it doesn't work great like this.

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14 of 14 James Martin/CNET

One last shot of the Google Clips, spinning toward the future.

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