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Fb Ray-Ban Tales Sensible Glasses Overview

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Facebook’s Ray-Ban Stories glasses can take photos and videos through cameras on every corner of the device frame.

Courtesy Ashley Bogdan

On Thursday, Facebook unveiled its long-awaited collaboration with Luxottica: Ray-Ban Stories Smart Glasses.

The glasses, which start at $ 299, allow users to take photos and videos with voice commands or the push of a button on the right temple of the glasses. They also have small speakers that turn the smart glasses into headphones to listen to music and podcasts via Bluetooth from the smartphone they are paired with. And they contain microphones so you can make phone calls through them.

It’s the latest example of Facebook building new hardware, and they represent another step into a future where Facebook envisions people wearing computers on their faces, whether it’s Oculus virtual reality headsets or something More normal trades that look like sunglasses.

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Facebook Ray-Ban Stories glasses

Facebook

The glasses were first reported by CNBC in 2019, but Facebook is hardly the first company to launch data glasses. Social media rival Snap launched its first Spectacles devices in 2016, and the ill-fated Google Glass devices hit the market back in 2013.

Ray-Ban Stories go on sale Thursday and are available in Ray-Ban stores and on Ray-Ban.com in the US, UK, Italy, Australia, Ireland and Canada. The device will hit the market on Monday at additional retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, Sunglass Hut and LensCrafters.

I got to try Ray-Ban Stories a few days before they were released. Here’s what you need to know.

What is good

Facebook’s Ray-Ban Stories glasses

Sal Rodriguez | CNBC

Facebook’s glasses look stylish, not silly, and are not obviously equipped with technology. This is a huge success for smart glasses sold by a technology company. Just check out the latest version of Snap’s Spectacles. Good luck not to be laughed at with them.

Facebook glasses are available in three of Ray-Ban’s popular glasses: the Wayfarer, Round and Meteor models. You can customize the glasses by choosing different colors and different types of lenses including sun, prescription, polarization, gradient, transition and clear. I tested the black Wayfarer model with clear lenses.

Ray Ban Stories glasses, which start at $ 299, are equipped with Facebook technology that allows users to take photos and videos with voice commands or with the push of a button on the right temple of the glasses.

Courtesy of Facebook

Facebook has chosen the right partner. The glasses look exactly as you would expect from Ray-Ban. You won’t realize they are special ray-bans unless you specifically look for the two cameras on the corner of the device’s frame.

The Facebook logo is nowhere on the device or its case. The only trace of the Facebook brand is on the product packaging. It’s smart considering how much suspicious people are of Facebook today and how negatively people have reacted to the Google Glass devices that also had a camera.

Facebook and Ray-Ban told CNBC that their goal was to create glasses that allow users to capture what they see while staying present in the moment. You are puzzled when you use your phone to take pictures. You either witness something great and live in the moment, or you take out your phone and try to focus on photographing or recording the event. The Ray-Ban stories solve this problem.

As someone who normally doesn’t wear glasses, I found the Ray-Ban Stories a little uncomfortable with clear glasses in everyday moments, such as strolling through San Francisco to a coffee get-together or having dinner with friends. But they were perfect for sightseeing.

I took the glasses with me on a nine-mile bike ride in Yosemite National Park, where I found them useful for taking photos. On the drive through the valley there were moments when the trees opened and gave incredible views of the granite rocks. Without the glasses, trying to take photos or videos of the views with my phone would have required me to drive dangerously while pulling out my phone or to slow down my entire group and stop to take pictures. The Ray-Ban stories made it possible to capture the view while driving on and looking at the cliffs.

The photos and videos are displayed in a square format in an app called View that Facebook developed for the glasses. Users can download pictures to their phone’s camera roll or share the media directly with other apps, including Facebook competitors TikTok and Snap.

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There are two ways to take photos and record videos. I could say “Hey Facebook, take a picture” or “Hey Facebook, take a video” and the glasses understood me. You can also briefly press a button on the top of the right arm of the glasses to record a video, or press and hold the button to take a photo.

I found myself using the button more than the voice commands. I didn’t want to draw attention to the glasses by saying the voice commands out loud and I felt uncomfortable. The button was much faster than saying a voice command and waiting for the Ray-Ban stories to register and respond to the command.

According to Facebook, the glasses have a battery life of six hours. They’re charged when you put them in the carrying case that Facebook says will be fully charged three times. I never ran out of battery.

Facebook’s Ray-Ban Stories glasses can take photos and videos through cameras on every corner of the device frame.

Salvador Rodriguez / CNBC

What is bad

In particular, there is a lack of augmented reality functions with which you can superimpose digital content on top of the real world. You won’t see anything else if you look through them. Facebook had previously warned that the Ray-Ban glasses would lack AR capabilities, but the lack of AR feels like a disappointment, especially after Snap added AR to the latest iteration of its Spectacles in May.

The two 5 megapixel cameras don’t take the best pictures or videos. Modern smartphones come with multiple lenses that offer zoom or wide-angle capabilities to fit more into an image, and most have sharper 12-megapixel resolution. But the glasses were good for quickly capturing moments on the go.

Facebook’s Ray-Ban Stories glasses

Sal Rodriguez | CNBC

A white LED lights up on the top right of the glasses when users are taking a photo or video to indicate that the glasses are taking a photo or video. It’s good that Facebook has taken steps to make it clear when the glasses are in action, and the company has gathered feedback from several organizations, including the Future of Privacy Forum and the National Consumers League. Despite the focus on privacy, most people may not even understand the light that the glasses are recording.

Facebook and Ray-Ban also play the audio functions of the stories. The glasses include two speakers at the bottom of each temple, but they’re not great.

The audio quality is nowhere near that of earphones or headphones. If you need top-notch audio quality, you will be bothered by how bad the Ray-Ban stories sound. And while the speakers aren’t very loud to the user, they’re loud enough that others around you can hear what you’re hearing, be it a private call or your most embarrassing Spotify playlist. That means that wearing glasses and listening to music on the bus or in the supermarket is at least out of the question for me.

Still, the speakers came in handy while I was riding my bike. The sound was good for the bike tour when no one was around. As I drove through Yosemite Valley, I was able to listen to music and some podcasts while keeping my ears open. This made it possible to hear my friends and all the cars around me.

The glasses are also not waterproof, so you need to be careful when wearing them on the beach or at the pool.

Facebook’s Ray-Ban Stories glasses can take photos and videos through cameras on every corner of the device frame.

Salvador Rodriguez / CNBC

Final thoughts

The Ray-Ban Stories are a successful first attempt at data glasses from Facebook. It’s great that the company has partnered with a brand that people actually want to wear.

However, the glasses lack AR functions and they are more like a point-and-shoot camera with attached speakers and lenses instead of real data glasses. The images aren’t as good as what you’d get from a smartphone, while the speakers don’t match what you’d expect from a set of AirPods. That’s a lot of sacrifice to get a camera in the face.

The Ray-Ban stories might make a cool birthday or Christmas present for a loved one, but right now they’re little more than a fashionable toy.

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