A whirlwind of hype has surrounded the launch of Snapchat’s first product, Spectacles. The product’s initial launch in Venice, CA brought hundreds of people to Snapchat’s bespoke vending machine, the Snapbot, all hoping to snag one of Snapchat’s limited-release smart eyeglasses.
Since then, the Snapbot popped up in Big Sur, CA the following Sunday and Tulsa, OK the next week. Each location has drawn hundreds of people, some from other states traveling by plane, and has sold out within a matter of hours. Spectacles continue to sell on eBay and Craigslist for well over $800, proving that Snapchats goal to create artificial scarcity is playing out masterfully.
But is it worth shelling out 8 Ben Franklins to get your own pair? In short, no. Read on below for a full product review.
As mentioned above, your best bet for acquiring a pair of Spectacles is paying a steep premium to purchase one of the dozens listed on eBay. Beyond that, you can keep an eye on spectacles.com/map to learn when a Snapbot pops up at 7 am in a random, likely-remote location near you. You’ll pay ~$140 including tax. Get there within 45 minutes of the announcement to ensure you grab one before stock runs out. (For predictions on where it might land next, see this LAT article).
Snapchat’s approach to marketing its Spectacles is genius. Creating artificial scarcity and popping up in random locations across the country is both exciting and infuriating for potential customers. For more thoughts on artificial scarcity as a marketing strategy, check out Ben Thompson’s analysis on Stratechery. It’s worth the read.
Unboxing, er uncanning
The Spectacles are packaged in a canister much like one you might find tennis balls in. Inside the canister is a case which both holds and charges the Spectacles (more on that below). The canister also contains a small Apple-like enclosure which holds the charging cable, a ghost-shaped cleaning cloth, and setup instructions.
The hardware is impressive and surprisingly high-quality. The glasses seem extremely sturdy, the black finish has subtle detail when examined in sunlight, and the Spectacles logo on the inside adds a nice touch. I’d put build quality on par with Ray-Ban Wayfarers, although Snap, Inc. has provided little detail on the lens quality.
There is a camera on one side and a light on the other, which spins to indicate when the wearer is recording a video. There is a button on the top of the device which, if pressed, begins capturing video.
Specs also contain both bluetooth and wifi radios. Bluetooth is the standard for syncing and syncs only SD video, which wifi is required to sync HD video.
The case is made of dense foam with a felt lining on the inside. Again, whimsical, but good quality. The case contains a battery, and serves as the primary means for charging the Specs. There is a magnetic port, similar to the MagSafe port Apple recently eliminated on its latest MacBook Pro. The Specs snap into place and begin charging when placed in the case; a nice touch. The included charging cable can be used to charge either the case (through a small magnetic port on the outside of the case) or the glasses directly. Snap, Inc. claims you can get about 4 charges from the battery in the case. There is also a button with an LED indicator on the case which shows how much juice you have left.
Setup is simple. Open Snapchat on your iOS or Android device, tap the ghost icon in the top center of your screen, press the button on your Specs, and look at the Snapcode on your screen. A few additional prompts follow, but total setup time took less than 30 seconds. Kudos to Snap on the user experience.
Once you’re setup, the app offers a few additional settings menus, seen below.
To capture a video, press the button on the top left of the Specs. You and those around to will see a light which indicates that you are recording. To extend the length of your video, press the button again.
Syncing and sharing
Once you’re done capturing video, fire up Snapchat on your phone, and tap the circle icon below the capture button (this same icon typically takes you to your memories. You’ll now have three menus to choose between: Snaps, Specs, and Camera Roll. When you select the Spec section, your videos begin to sync in standard definition over bluetooth. Syncing is reasonably fast, but there is definitely room for improvement here. Once the sync completes, you can select, edit, and send your videos like you would with any other Snap.
- Still photo capture
- Auto-post video to your Snapchat story
- Indoor lenses
- Different frame styles
- Increased supply (online orders)
Specs are a fun and easy-to-use product! I can’t wait to take them on a few adventures, particularly on my bike, to capture and share first-person video. But unless you can pick up a pair at face value, you should hold-off. The hype will inevitably die down, and you will be able to purchase them at a reasonable price.
I plan to update this post as I use the product more, but feel free to follow up with me via email or on social if you have any feedback or additional questions about Snap’s Specs.