Snapchat Spectacles review: Spectacles get more mature

… But you're not taking cinematic masterpieces

Photo and video quality is fine if all you're doing is viewing in Snapchat. Once you export and view clips in a different context, that's when you'll start noticing issues. Colors are vibrant but details can get totally overexposed, especially if you're snapping something in a high-contrast situation like looking up at trees in the sky or a selfie against the sunset. In low light, images look grainy and lose detail -- then again, if you're wearing sunglasses at night, image quality probably isn't your no. 1 priority.

As with the first version, it gets annoying having to keep pressing the button to take multiple videos in one burst. Snap could easily add an option to take longer clips, maybe a setting that could be toggled on in the app.

It's also not easy to take selfies. Like the original, you'll have to record your clips into a mirror or hold the sunglasses pointing back toward you to take any clips with you in the action.


A still exported from Spectacles with circular white borders.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

Are they worth the money?

The new version of Spectacles carry over everything from the original that I loved and adds incremental but useful updates. But a year and a half after the original Spectacles, Snapchat's got a lot more competition for my attention from other apps.

With the original specs, I used them for about a month or two and really enjoyed it, then the novelty wore off. I went back to using my phone to capture clips because a) I had my phone with me more than my sunglasses, and b) I could share clips from my camera everywhere, not just within Snapchat.

With some negative responses to Snapchat's recent redesign, and Snap's latest earnings with slowing user growth, Spectacles could give the platform a boost. They are a lot of fun to use and give you a truly hands-free capture experience. With some fun AR experiences within Snapchat itself, like the Snappables games and Lenses, it's easy to see what future versions of the specs could hold.

But at $150, these new Spectacles cost the same as a really nice pair of sunglasses -- possibly even a pair of designer frames -- that you don't have to charge. If they weren't tied to Snapchat exclusively, they'd appeal to a much broader group than just Snapchat devotees.

Editor's note: This review was originally published on May 12, 2018. It has been updated to include details of exporting non-circular video, and the review score has been adjusted.  

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