Spoiler Alert: If you have the money.
For the tech lover in the family, Facebook’s Ray-Ban Stories Sunglasses are the smart glasses you didn’t think you needed but are thrilled every time you use them! For the non-techie person, you will probably think these are expensive, over-glorified sunglasses. For the privacy-paranoid, this review will not make you any more or less privacy concerned and that is part of a much larger argument. This review is going to focus on the tech itself, not the moral quandary behind it.
What are Facebook’s Ray-Ban Stories Sunglasses?
Facebook teamed up with the iconic Ray-Ban sunglasses brand to create the Ray-Ban Facebook Stories sunglasses a pair of smart sunglasses with built-in cameras and audio that allow you to take 30-second video clips, take photos, take phone calls, and listen to music. They hit the market in September 2021 and I had my order excitedly placed on September 29th!
Expensive Smart Sunglasses
These puppies aren’t cheap. I’m Canadian and in CND dollars they cost me $413.76 CAD with taxes. Would I normally spend $400+ on sunglasses that are not prescription or polarized? Nope. No way. But throw a couple cameras and audio in them and I’m SOLD!
How do those compare in price to the old Snapchat Spectacles? Back in 2018 I paid $225.99 USD (appx $293 CND) for a second generation pair. And if my memory serves me, I believe I paid roughly $200 USD for a first generation pair aaaallll the way back in 2016 at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.
So, as you can see, wearable spycam sunglasses are nothing new for me and I’m still a sucker for them. But I love them!
Let’s Talk About Features
If you press the button on the arm of the glasses, they will start recording a 30-second video. If you long-press the button, it will take a photo. When you’re recording a video a little white light appears on the front of your glasses so that others can see you’re recording.
If you want to go hands-free, simply say “Hey Facebook, take a video”, or “Hey Facebook, take a photo” and the voice activated controls will kick in and do exactly that!
The sunglasses are paired to your phone via bluetooth and play audio via your phone. I listen to music or podcasts on my Ray-Ban Stories sunglasses when walking the dog. You can hear the audio crystal clear but because it is so close to your ear, those around you can barely hear it.
On the right arm of the glasses there is a touch panel and if you tap it, it will start/stop your audio, and if you slide your finger forward on the panel toward your face, the volume turns up. And if you slide your finger backward on it towards the back of your head, the volume turns down.
You can also take phone calls on them but this is a feature I haven’t tried in all the months of owning them.
Downloading Your Videos And Images
To download your photos and videos off of the sunglasses, you need to download the Facebook View App and pair it with your Ray-Ban Stories sunglasses. You can set it to automatically download a copy to your camera roll each time you sync your glasses to your app. I find this to be the most useful feature!
Why Listen To My Opinion?
I’m not a reporter who was assigned to wear them for a weekend and write about them. At the time of writing this I have had my pair for just shy of 3 months and I have used them indoors, outdoors, in Canada and the United States, in the desert, mountains, airplanes, and on the beaches of British Columbia! I have recorded over 470 photos and videos in all types of conditions including:
Riding Rollercoasters, San Diego, California
Seals On The Beach, La Jolla, San Diego, California
Eating Crab Hands-Free & Messy!
Kinsol Trestle, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Bird Watching Up Close & Personal
Adventures With My Canine Sidekick, Small Dog
Do I love them? YES!!!! I realize I may be the minority here and that the majority of reviews out there are quite critical, but I am a huge fan.
These glasses are making me realize I LOVE MY LIFE!! Writing this review and reflecting on what I’ve done in three short months makes me smile from ear to ear! It’s far too easy to get lost in the pressures of day to day life. These glasses are helping me capture so many more of my happy moments that I otherwise may not have captured.
As you can see, I personally love them, but let’s dig into the pro’s and con’s of them.
- The opportunity to capture life in the moment and hands free is amazing. In my opinion this outweighs ALL of the cons for me!
- The audio quality exceeds expectations and makes them great for listening to music or podcasts
- They look like normal sunglasses
- They fit comfortably and are a great everyday pair of sunglasses so I actually use them!
- Long battery life in warm conditions
- Take great video and photos outdoors in bright conditions
- Leather charging case carries a lot of recharge power
- The voice activation controls are more handy than you would think! Hands-free recording means you can capture so many more experiences.
- They look a million times better than the Willy Wonka looking Snapchat Spectacles. My friends used to tell me it looked like I was wearing yellow cheerios on my sunglasses.
- Even though you have to use the Facebook View app to download your files, it adds it to your camera roll at the same time
- Syncing the glasses with the app is a million times more smooth than compared to Snapchat Spectacles. I am confident that I will not lose files or have them corrupted in the syncing process. I can’t tell you how many times I lost files with my Spectacles.
- Low quality video indoors or in low lighting situations
- Don’t operate in cold conditions
- Not waterproof
- I should have paid the extra $30 to upgrade to blue polarized lenses. Big regret!
- The videos save in a square format. With being called “Facebook Stories” sunglasses, I would have expected portrait stories format files. But I recognize that the technology, size of camera and placement of the lenses make sense to capture square video.
- Charging case is big, bulky and heavy and doesn’t fit into some of my slimmer purses and adds a ton of weight to my purse when I do take the case along. So for most adventures, I just wear the sunglasses on my head and leave the case at home.
- When turned on, they automatically become the default audio player. Sometimes I want to have my sunglasses on to be ready to capture something but I want to play a YouTube video for a friend on my phone but the audio routes through my glasses and it’s a pain to swap out bluetooth sources
- There is a small hesitation when you tap the side panel to get your audio to stop and it takes a long time to get the hang of exactly where to tap to stop your audio. I often find I tap to stop the music, then tap again because I didn’t think it took but it did, then tap again to stop it again. It can be a little frustrating.
- I am constantly accidentally turning music on when taking off my glasses because of where the touch panel is and my habit of taking my glasses off with my right hand
- The Facebook View App can sometimes have a few files straggling in “processing” but eventually they all download.
- My friends are always paranoid that I’m recording them and are always asking “are you recording me?”
Some Technical Specs (No Pun Intended)
Available in different colours, from Matte Black to Shiny Olive.
Choose from three styles: Wayfarer, Round, or Meteor. I’ve got the Wayfarer pair and they fit and look great. The Round style looks an awful lot like the Snapchat Spectacles 2nd Gen sunglasses.
And choose your lenses: Clear with Blue Light filter, Brown Gradient, G-15 Green, Grey, Blue Polarized, and Transitions®.
If you want to add prescription lenses, you should do it at the time of purchase so that your warranty remains valid.
Each 30-second video is 1200 × 1200 pixels and approximately 45MB. That means you’re filling up a Gig in about 22 recordings.
More Features Just Announced
Mark Zuckerberg just dropped a heads-up that more features will be rolling out to Ray-Ban Stories sunglasses including the ability to send messages, hear message readouts, and make calls (all via Messenger), and also control the volume or pause and resume audio, all using your voice. And I’m here for it! I can’t wait!
I LOVE these glasses. Everyone who has been with me on my adventures while using the Ray-Ban Stories sunglasses has been shocked at how handy they are. I think that until you have a pair on your face and are actively using them, it is easy to dismiss them as a gimmicky piece of tech. They are more practical than you may think!
If you have the budget for them, I 10/10 recommend even with the drawbacks. I believe that the ability to capture your experiences as they are happening in first person hands-free view is 100% worth the memories and joy they bring to users.
For a full in-depth look at Facebook Ray-Bay Stories Sunglasses, check out Facebook’s site: https://tech.fb.com/ray-ban-and-facebook-introduce-ray-ban-stories-first-generation-smart-glasses/
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Amanda Robinson - The Digital Gal
Amanda Robinson is The Digital Gal. She is widely recognized in the digital marketing industry for her knowledge, training, skills and coaching as a Facebook Ads expert with her Swift Kick In the Ads Membership, her 4 Week Facebook Ads Training Bootcamp, and for her creative chatbot skills. She is an author, international speaker, consultant, and educator who has taught thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs the foundational skills of Facebook Ads. Amanda brings personality and passion to teaching others how to make Facebook ads work for them.