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Snapchat Spectacles review: Spectacles are all grown-up

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Snapchat Spectacles 2018

(Part #: CNETSnapchat2018)
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The Good Recording and transferring clips is easy and quick. The glasses don’t look as outlandish as the first version.

The Bad They’re more expensive than before. Recording clips longer than 10 seconds means you have to keep pressing the button, which is annoying, and the glasses still work only with Snapchat.

The Bottom Line Spectacles are fun to use, but the improvements aren’t enough to make Snapchatters pay more for version two.

6.9 Overall
  • Style 7.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Ease of use 7.5

Spectacles have grown up.

Snap's new version of its sunglasses with a camera look similar to the first version, but some tweaks help make them feel more like actual sunglasses rather than just a camera for Snapchat. They're $150 (or £150 in the UK).

Here's a little refresher on what they do and how they work.

So what's new?

  • They now take photos (finally!).
  • They cost $20 more than the original (boo).
  • Frame colors are more muted: the bright coral finish is now known as ruby, while electric teal is sapphire. Onyx (basic black) is the third option.
  • No more yellow rings around the camera and light (I definitely didn't get as many funny looks while wearing them as I did with version one).
  • Water resistance. Snap hasn't quoted an exact rating, but you'll be able to take them into shallow water without issue.
  • Clips transfer in HD, and the Spectacles connect to your phone over its own Wi-Fi network (it's so much faster than before and takes about three seconds to import a single clip).
  • Miniaturized electronics makes the size of the temples smaller. The charging case is also smaller.
  • Dual microphones balance out audio so there's not as big of a volume difference when you speak vs. your friends (one of my biggest gripes with the original Spectacles).
  • Reduced field of view (105 vs. 115 degrees, so you'll get slightly less in the shot, but also less distortion).
  • Glasses wearers can now add prescription lenses (add at least $125 to the price).

Snap's also hoping to learn from the mistakes from Spectacles version one, because the company only sold 220,000 of them. Instead of pop-up vending machines, the new Spectacles are available from the website.

Like the previous version, the case also recharges the glasses and holds enough power to juice them up four times before the case itself needs a charge. Spectacles use a proprietary magnetic cable to charge either the case or the side of the specs themselves.

snapchat-sunglasses-2-lexy-8261

Spot the differences between the new specs (right) and the old ones (left).

Josh Miller/CNET

You can't adjust the fit of the Spectacles yourself. I found that after wearing them for a few hours, the nose bridge felt uncomfortably snug, and the pads started to collect makeup and sunscreen. There's a tiny cleaning cloth included in the case, but it's not for cleaning the frame, just the lenses.

They're still a snap to use ...

Spectacles work just like before: press the button on the temple for a 10-second video; keep pressing to add more clips up to 30 seconds total, or press and hold for a photo. LED lights spin around to show others you're recording, and there's a small light that shines inward so you know what's going on.

Once you've recorded clips (up to 150 videos or 3,000 photos at a time), the syncing process to get them into Snapchat is all done over an ad-hoc Wi-Fi connection to Android or iOS. There's also the option to let Spectacles automatically import when charging and connected to your home Wi-Fi network.

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