Snapchat Spectacles review: Oh Snap, Spectacles are ridiculously fun

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How do they work?

Spectacles take 10-second bursts of video at a time.

Those two distinctive circles on the glasses are a video camera on one side and an LED light on the other. When you're snapping, the front light spins to let others know you're recording.

A smaller light faces inwards so you know you're recording. It's subtle in daylight hours but at night expect to feel your retina burn.

Transferring videos is a lot faster and more automatic than I expected

Once you've paired Spectacles and opened the app (iPhone or Android), snaps transfer across seamlessly. Videos live in a separate section of Snapchat Memories and they don't get sent out until you say so.

When exported from Snapchat, this is what the video looks like.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

Annoyingly, Spectacles snaps are automatically categorized by date and linked as one long story every day. If you want to break them out to view, edit or post individually, you can. But if you've taken hundreds of snaps in a day (which, let's face it, I did), flicking through to find the right video is frustrating.

... But good luck posting that video anywhere else

You can export video, but only from within Snapchat. It comes out as a 1080x1080 pixel square, with the circular video inside a white border.

Videos are transferred at a lower quality first

This is so you can get snaps out quickly. If you want higher-quality HD versions, you can tether to the Spectacles via its own Wi-Fi network and import them to Snapchat. (It's easier than it sounds: Head to Settings > Wi-Fi > join the Spectacles network. Boom.)

The battery life -- and charging case -- last a looooong time

When you need to recharge Spectacles, put them in the case. It has enough juice for four charges. The Spectacles can also charge away from the case with the included magnetic cable (it's USB on the other end).

Charge in the case or on the glasses themselves.

James Martin/CNET


I took 130 snaps in a day (that's around 21 minutes of video) and still had four full charges left from the case after I was done.

Oh snap. OK, but are they worth $130?

If you're serious about Snapchat, the answer is yes. Otherwise, they might just end up being an expensive pair of sunglasses.

But even when I gave them to people who weren't big on Snapchat, they got it. Just press the button and you're recording.

The coolest part about them is that you're actually filming what you see. You don't miss the moment by pulling out a phone, opening up Snapchat and taking the video -- the camera is there on your face, ready to go. And that's a snap.

Editors' note: This review was originally published on November 22, 2016. It has been slightly updated to reflect the fact that Spectacles are now widely available.