The company now known as Snap has hardware aspirations, and Spectacles is its first foray into that industry. The sunglasses feature integrated cameras that record short videos with a life-like perspective, but Snap isn’t making it easy to get ahold of its glasses. Rather than launching them through an online store, Snap has elected to make Spectacles available on a very limited basis via a vending machine…and this, by all accounts, has been quite a bit of fun.
The vending machine — a strange ‘bot’ with Minion-like undertones and a limited number of glasses — was located in Los Angeles today, and people lined up early to get their own pair. One of the first things that happened, as you probably expect, is the vending machine sold out around noon and a bunch of people in line were told something like sorry folks, better luck next time. Fortunately, they got it restocked fairly quickly.
— Taylor Nikolai (@TaylorNikolai) November 10, 2016
A far away or sold out vending machine doesn’t mean you can’t get your own pair though, as these glasses quickly landed on eBay where they are, in some cases, offered with prices as high as $1,000. Is there any scenario in which Spectacles are worth a thousand dollars? Probably not, but value is in the eye of the beholder. If you really, really want your own Spectacles but don’t want to fly to the nearest SnapBot, you can browse the eBay listings here.
The official retail price for Spectacles is $130. The higher reseller rate may be worth skipping crazy long lines, though:
— Uncharted Minds (@weareuncharted) November 10, 2016
Yes, yes, camera-equipped glasses have been on the market for many years. One of the things Snap focused on for Spectacles, though, is the FOV its glasses deliver — you’re seeing round videos that present the world in a way that’s very similar to how your own eyes would see it. The cameras have very wide-angle lenses, and we’re already getting some pretty neat videos from them.
I PROMISE this isn't an ad but the Snapchat Spectacles are so sick 😎😎😎 pic.twitter.com/F6tq1DP96i
— Caleb Chin (@thecalebchin) November 10, 2016
Early users are saying Spectacles are pretty easy to use and quite a bit of fun. Pairing is as simple as using Bluetooth and a QR code. Videos are recorded in ten-second increments, and an LED lights up so others know you’re recording them. Recording can be done in standard and high definition, though you have to use WiFi to transfer the latter resolution.
Critics have already raised privacy concerns not unlike the ones we heard during Google Glass’s time. The concerns are valid to a certain degree, though it’s important to remember that we live in a world full of portable cameras. Having someone record you with their Spectacles isn’t really any more sneaky than being recorded with a phone given how easy Snap’s glasses are to spot.
The comparisons to Google Glass otherwise are a stretch, as it and Spectacles are quite different devices. The goal here seems to be fun, and early users are agreeing the glasses are fun. The designs are flashy and obvious with rounded cat-ear shapes and bold colors.
The biggest upside here seems to be the relatively inexpensive price coupled with the entirely self-aware toy-like nature of Spectacles. No one is taking these things seriously in the same way they would with Google Glass, and that opens the door to all kinds of users. Google Glass — expensive and sophisticated with a target audience that was never quite clear — didn’t have the same appeal. Spectacles is the kind of things you put on to take some fun videos, share them with your friends, and tuck them away when you don’t need them.
Early reviewers are pointing toward the ease by which videos can be triggered as a big upside. If you’re wearing Spectacles and something big happens suddenly, recording it is just a quick button press away. This is contrasted by recording with your phone, which involves at best pulling it out of your pocket and swiping the camera icon.
All that aside though, there’s simply something appealing about videos recorded from this perspective:
— Johnny Martin (@johnnymartin) November 10, 2016