Snapchat’s Spectacles seemed on the surface, doomed to fail.
They’re bright, unashamedly loud in their design and inherently created to do the one thing that landed Google Glass in so much hot water when they first came out.
Yet here we are, two months on from their UK release and there haven’t been riots in the street, or people complaining about having their privacy invaded.
That’s because Snapchat (now known as Snap Inc) has achieved something actually quite impressive, they’ve created a product that does one very niche thing, very well.
These aren’t for inadvertently invading people’s privacy, nor are they for giving you directions to somewhere through the lenses. There isn’t some ‘Snap AI’ piping useless calendar events into your ear every 10 minutes.
No, these are for recording 30 second clips of video and sharing them to social media. That’s it.
This simplicity and transparency runs throughout every aspect of the Spectacles.
The design is unashamedly loud while also managing to still be considered stylish. They boast large glossy plastic frames and two large circles directly eating into the lenses.
The camera on the left is clearly visible, while on the right a flashing ring of LEDs serve to not only let those around you know that you’re recording but also to keep you updated on battery life.
The battery and the brains of the Spectacles are neatly concealed into both sides of the frame, keeping them well rooted on your nose without every feeling heavy.
Finally there’s a button on top, just a single one, that serves to turn the Spectacles on, starts the recording and then stops it, that’s it.
The case is equally simple. It’s a large foam triangle that contains a battery that can recharge your Spectacles up to four times before itself needing to be recharged.
While it’s bigger than most glasses cases it feels really sturdy and definitely gave us the impression that it’s designed for surviving the great outdoors.
Speaking of which you get a sturdy fabric charging cable that’s sadly unique to the Spectacles so if you lose them there’s no hunting round for a space micro-USB cable.
So how do they work? Well once they’re paired to your Snapchat app, there’s actually not much else you need to do.
Press the button once on the side to record a single 10-second clip, press it a further two times and you can extend it up to the maximum 30-seconds. Press and hold and the recording stops. That’s literally all there is to it.
When you’re all done you simply open up Snapchat and the Spectacles will start syncing the videos over to your phone. What sets these videos apart form the ones recorded on your phone is the format they’re shot in.
Spectacles shoot video using a special wide-angle lens which means you get a 115-degree circular field of view. The Snapchat app then shows only a portion of that on your phone screen, instead letting you rotate your phone to see the rest. It’s a really simple, but highly effective feature that makes you want to interact with the videos you’re seeing.
It is the combination of this format, with the short clips that makes them so compelling and it’s a natural next step for an app that’s based around sharing those fleeting moments that we want others to see.
Video quality is OK but nowhere near the recording quality of your smartphone’s own camera. In fact even Snapchat’s official advice for recording suggests you do it in a bright, well-lit environment.
As a piece of hardware, Snapchat’s Spectacles are impressive. They’re stylish, life-proof and have the perfect balance of specifications and affordability.
Who should buy the Snapchat Spectacles?
Snap’s Spectacles are designed for capturing random moments that would otherwise have been missed if you had to spend ages rummaging around for a smartphone.
For the die-hard Snapchat users out there, this will be a revelation. Combined with the fact that they’re actually pretty well-priced they’re a compelling prospect.
Who shouldn’t buy the Snapchat Spectacles?
If Snapchat isn’t the first thing you look at in the morning and the last thing you look at before bed then don’t even think about it.
We simply can’t see a compelling reason to use these on a day-to-day basis if Snapchat is just one part of a collection of social media networks that you’re a part of.
Snapchat Spectacles are available now for £129.99.