We’ve been hearing about Google Glass for years, swimming among rumors of Apple glasses and with firm proposals such as OPPO Air Glass. Facebook does not want to be outdone, but it brought to market a concept far removed from augmented reality and that futuristic halo. The Ray-Ban Stories are simply a pair of glasses with camera, microphone and speakerssomething similar to the second-generation Snapchat Spectacles, although much more discreet.
We have thoroughly tested these glasses for a few weeks, and we are clear about the uses that can be given to them, the possibilities offered by this type of device and the answer to whether these smart glasses are worth buying.
Technical sheet Ray-Ban Stories
A discreet and classic Ray-Ban
There are three Ray-Ban Stories models. The Round (rounded finish), the Wayfarer (the classics we tried) and the Meteor (classic fit without tinted lenses). These are sunglasses that can be graduated, designed for regular use. The crystals are polarized and we can choose the type of finish for them.
You have to look closely (or be very geeky) to detect that these are not normal glasses
But what is most striking in the design is that, if you don’t look closely, These are completely normal glasses. During these weeks of use, no one realized that we had smart glasses, until we showed the main points that give them away.
The first is the side pins, a little thicker than usual. However, it may seem like a design decision in a pair of glasses, rather than a necessary evil to include hardware inside the sunglasses. The second point to detect that they are “smart” glasses is the fire button, located at the top of the right branch.
it’s very discreet, thin and unappreciated over medium distances. The same happens with the last differential element in the design: the recording indication LED. When we take photos or videos, lights up white.
The only way to know if someone is recording us with these glasses is a tiny white LED that cannot be seen as soon as we move a little away from the person
This is something you will only appreciate if you are close to the person wearing the glasses, but as soon as the person walks away, it will be impossible to see an LEDwith a size of only 1 mm, far.
It is also particularly striking that the two cameras on the front are very discreet. If we get close enough, we will notice that there is “something strange” (you have to be a little nerd think these goggles have two cameras), but at medium distances they just look like the two ends of the goggles.
Inside, on their left paw, they have a small light switch to turn the device on and off, on the opposite side we have another LED that indicates the status of the battery and the connection and, at the bottom, two small speakers.
In summary, These are glasses that go unnoticed and that unless someone looks carefully, it is difficult for him to discern its purpose.
The process of pairing them
To pair these glasses with our phone (it must have iOS 13 or Android 8.1, at least), we must download the Facebook View app. It is also mandatory to have a Facebook accountsomething particularly annoying, although logical being the company glasses.
After connection we will have to turn on the glasses, pair them via Bluetooth to the phone and configure the voice of the Facebook assistant, which we will discuss later. At this point, we’ll also choose whether or not to allow Facebook to store our voice interactions to “help better understand and respond to requests.” We answered no.
We can also link Messenger (as long as the application is installed) to send messages or call our contacts through the Facebook assistant. Once everything is configured, a small tutorial will teach us how to use them. There are several translation errors in the iOS app (we didn’t find this issue in the Android app), but it’s easy to understand how it works.
At the end of the tutorial, Facebook tells us that they only collect “the data necessary to make the glasses and the application work correctly”, they assure that they do not use the content of the photos or videos to display advertisements personalized and that our privacy is secure. Or so they say.
The Facebook View app
The Facebook View app is quite simple. Its main interface is a photo and video gallery, with a second favorites tab. When we click on a photo, we have several settings:
- To erase
- Basic editing (brightness, sharpness, saturation, warmth, cropping)
- Create video montage from photos
- Give an animation effect to the photo (three effects available)
- To download
In the case of videos, we have the same editing options, which can also create montages by joining multiple videos. If we go to the configuration sections, we are still faced with a light application with few options.
There are several privacy-related settings. we can access for recording voice recordingschoose whether or not we want the data of the glasses to be stored, access the data policy of Facebook View, etc. Customization-wise, there’s not much we can do beyond adjusting the system sound and interior LED brightness.
Regarding the “voice assistant” options, they are very poor. We can only invoke it for extremely simple functions, like taking photos or videos. Integration with Google Lens or Siri would have been greatimproving the hands-free capabilities of this device.
Video and photo recording
To record videos and take photos with these glasses, we have two ways. The first is to do it using the side button. A long press will take a photo and a short press will launch a video. You can also invoke the assistant with a “Hey Facebook” (the application is not yet in Spanish), and ask him in English to take a video or a photo. The cameras are five megapixels and are capable of recording video in 1184 x 1184 resolution at up to 30 FPS.
The recording experience is curious, since we are not accustomed to literally recording what our eyes would see. The plans and photographs are somewhat chaotic, as it is not easy to fit exactly with the glasses.
The quality of the photos is sufficient for the type of device we are talking about, although it is quite fair if we compare it to any mid-range smartphone. Has quite a few issues with highlights, and it’s not easy to get the glasses to handle HDR. However, despite the low resolution, the photographs are quite close to what we see in particularly cheap mobiles.
What is surprising is video recording quality. Stabilization work is very good. I’ve recorded driving videos (which we can’t show due to the number of license plates and people appearing), with a lot of vibration, and the stabilization is better than what I’ve seen in some high-end mobiles. The dynamic range in video is also good, better than that of photos and, in general, we get fairly good quality shots.
The main problem is that the videos are recorded in a completely square aspect ratio (a terrible thing to upload on social media) and are only 30 seconds long. They are designed to record short content for social networks and do not quickly fill the 4 GB of memory they have, ** we miss being able to record a few minutes **.
The Ray-Ban View in hands-free and headset mode
At the sound level, the behavior is excellent with calls. They can be used hands-free, with a fairly high volume and listening relatively well to our interlocutor. They don’t hurt either in podcast playback, but if we want to listen to music, the tiny speakers clearly show their limits. The volume is more than enough, but the quality is minimal.
They don’t replace headphones, but they are a great hands-free. Leaving with your glasses, receiving a call and being able to answer it without the need for a mobile phone or earphones is a very favorable point.
battery and charging
indicates that we will be very limited in taking photos and videos because of the battery. Facebook promises 3 hours of duration, but in our case we couldn’t exceed an hour and a half. The battery flies, and if we use video recording a lot, we can only enjoy it for a while. Drinking while resting is also excessive.
To charge them, we have to put them in their box, which takes about an hour and a half to fully charge them. This case works very similarly to a TWS earphone and has a USB-C port to power it.
Ray-Ban Stories, Xataka’s opinion
The Ray-Ban Stories serve two clear purposes: to have a hands-free device when you don’t want to wear connected headphones and, most obviously, record discreetly when you don’t want to take out the laptop. As much as Facebook’s emphasis on both user privacy and the privacy of the people we record, Ray-Ban Stories is the perfect device for recording without consent, and the little front LED isn’t a tool powerful enough to avoid it.
Interestingly, the Ray-Ban Stories work better as a hands-free device than a camera.
As a content creation tool, they do not end up serving their purpose. The final quality is good, but the recording format is not good for social networks (funny that they are called “Stories” and record in a completely opposite format to the “Storie” format), and the recording time and battery limitations are significant disabilities.