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I recently bought a pair of Snap's new smart glasses. They let me record video and photos and upload them to Snapchat — but they aren't terribly good and are too similar to last year's unsuccessful model.
I don't even know why Snap decided to launch such an iterative model of the glasses, since it had to take an almost $40 million write-down on the first version of Spectacles during the third quarter.
Here's what you need to know about them.
The new Snap Spectacles (they have the same name as last year's model) aren't as bulky as the originals, which means they don't feel as cumbersome sitting on my nose. I also like that Snap added new colors — which are a bit more fun with reflective shades — and support for prescription lenses.
They're water-resistant, which means I could jump in the pool and record pictures and video as I swim around. Most modern smartphones are water-resistant, but the glasses allowed me to record a more first-person perspective of the experience, which was pretty cool to watch after I was out of the pool.
The Spectacles come with a case that also charges them. It's similar to the original case from last year but more compact. This is really convenient; I spent a whole weekend with Spectacles and didn't even need to charge them once.
Finally, I liked that it's easy to record videos. Just tap a button on the side of the glasses to begin recording, or tap and hold to snap a picture.
I still look really stupid wearing Spectacles, and I'd like them a lot more if they looked like a normal pair of shades.
There's a camera on one side of the lenses and, on the other side, a light that alerts people you're recording. Snap should have worked to hide these better, perhaps by stuffing them into the frames of the glasses a bit more. Instead, they both add to the oddness of the design.
The new glasses transfer photos and videos wirelessly to a smartphone (Android and iPhone are supported). While they're faster at doing this than the original model, the process is still really slow if you have a lot of content. Plan to sit around for a few minutes for the transfer if you've recorded more than a dozen videos.
Also, while you can save videos and photos to your camera roll for sharing elsewhere, they don't look as good as they do on Snapchat. Images and videos just look like circular clips. Since I have such a small following on Snapchat, I wish there was support for uploading directly to other apps, like Instagram.
Snap didn't fix the primary reason I think the original model failed: They look goofy.
For $150 ($20 more than last year's model) you get water-resistance, a slightly slimmer design, higher video and photo quality and an improved charging case. All of this is great, but none of those are issues I had with the original model.
The reason why nobody will buy these — again — is that they still look ridiculous.