Fictional secret agents, such as the iconic James Bond, have had cool gadgets like pen-bombs, laser-shooting wristwatches, and grappling hook belts. Now technology has gotten to a point where normal people (like you and I) can have such gadgets. ThinkGeek (a shopping site for geeks) now sells Spy Camera Sunglasses, but are they suitable for their intended mission, or should they be terminated?
I became interested in these glasses last year after attending Anime North. As I am physically challenged, I’m unable to work a regular camera; I can’t even use the camera on my phone. Frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t take pictures of the beautiful costumes myself (my mother was there with her camera, but still), I began searching to see if there was some solution to my problem. I was later emailed by my friend, informing me about the glasses. They looked like a viable solution.
When you get the glasses, which supposedly come in your choice of up to 4GB of storage, you also get a remote with a strap, a mini USB cable, a storage case, a cleaning cloth, extra clear lenses, the manual, and a driver CD for Windows 98 users. The only thing they don’t come with is an AC adapter, which is a disappointment. It’s an optional accessory.
The case opens like a book, and it stores everything except the CD and the manual, and is pretty sturdy for plastic. My only problem with it is, the night I got the glasses, the hinge of the case popped out. It was easy to fix (I just had to snap it back in), but the hinge could have been better made.
The glasses themselves are quite lightweight, though a bit heavier than ordinary glasses. They’re made of plastic, and while I haven’t done a thorough durability test, they do seem to be durable. Having put them on myself (read: one-handed) a few times, and dropping them once, they still work and haven’t broken. The lens-frame and temple arms are one piece, while the earpieces fold. The lens flip up, and the sunglasses lens, at least are UV400 which is said to protect your eyes from 99-100% of UV rays.
In addition to having built-in cameras, the glasses also have built-in MP3 playback with built-in earbuds. The earbuds, which are corded, are connected to the bottom of the temple arms, and can be hooked to the earpieces of the glasses when not in use, thanks to a thin yet sturdy piece of plastic on the earpieces. The sound quality from the earbuds is on par with your average buds. They leave something to be desired by audiophiles, but for the average music listener, they do just fine.
The temple arms are a bit bulky, but this is because the 2 cameras, and the battery and MP3 player are housed in them. On the top of the arms, there are buttons; the power button (which you need to hold to turn the glasses on or off), which oddly plays or pauses the current MP3, is on the left, while the right has 2 buttons: one to capture images/raise the volume in the earbuds/skip to the next MP3, and one to lower the volume/skip to the previous MP3. The only problem I have is that the blue light that tells you the glasses are on, is in a spot where you can’t see it, at least not in lit places.
The remote is a little bigger than the Eisenhower/original silver dollar (or for you PokeMon fans, it’s about the size of the PokeWalker), and it has 2 buttons: one in the middle to capture images, and one near the strap to play/skip MP3s.
The cameras are 1.3 megapixels each and they capture images at a resolution of 1280×1024. To capture an image, you have to press the button and wait for 3 beeps, the last beep signals that the image has been captured. The pictures look better than what I was originally expecting (given my webcam), but they still look a bit over-saturated. The low pixel count is a bit of let-down, given that even camera phones take higher quality pictures (Tanya‘s is 5 megapixels), but it’s not that much of a drawback.
The battery is polymer li-ion and rechargeable. The battery life varies, depending on how many pictures you take per minute. If you keep taking 10 pictures a minute, the battery will only last 2 hours, but if you only take 1 picture a minute, it will last 9 hours. The mini USB cord, which is USB 2.0, does double-duty. It is used for data transfer as well as re-charging the battery.
In addition to my above complaints, I also have a problem with the location of the mini USB port on the glasses. It’s located on the bottom of the left temple arm, next to the earbud cord. It’s covered by a flexible piece of… either silicon or rubber, and it’s so close to the earbud cord that you have to hold the cover open and move the cord out of the way just to plug the mini USB in. I can do it myself, but it’s a bit of a hassle.
Even with their shortcomings, the 1.3 Megapixel Spy Camera Sunglasses, which retail for $69.99 on ThinkGeek, are a wonderful product, one that I’d recommend not only for other challenged individuals, but for anyone that doesn’t care if the pictures are crystal clear and don’t feel like carrying an actual camera. The sense of freedom and the new ability these glasses have given me make them worth the price. My only suggestions are, if a new model of these glasses were to be made, bumping the pixel count up to at least 5 megapixels, moving the light so it can be seen, and include an adapter.
ThinkGeek specializes in geek products, such as mini USB monitors, roll-up keyboards, and humping-dog USB flash drives. In addition, they have a “Security & Spy Stuff” section that has stuff like video-watches and hidden flash drives. They even carry t-shirts and edible stuff like wasabi gumballs(?! o.o) and energy drinks. They gave me this product for review, and I would like to thank them for doing so.