Google Clips review: a smart camera that doesn’t make the grade

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Imagine this: you go out with your children or pets and spontaneously do something interesting or cute that you want to capture and preserve. But when he turned off his phone and the camera was opened, the moment has passed and he has lost the opportunity to capture it.
That's the main problem that Google is trying to solve with its new camera Clips, a $ 249 device available as of today that uses artificial intelligence to automatically capture important moments in your life. Google says that it is for all the intermediate moments that you could lose when your phone or camera is not in your hand. It is destined to capture the silly dance of your child or your cat is lost in an Amazon box without it being necessary for you to take the picture. The other problem that Google is trying to solve with Clips allows you to spend more time interacting with your children directly, without having a phone or a camera that separates it, and at the same time get some photos.
It is an attractive argument for both parents and pet owners, and if the camera system Clips achieves its goal, it could be an essential device for them. But if it fails, then it is just another device that promises to make life easier, but it requires more work and maintenance than it is worth.
The problem for Google Clips is that it just does not work so well.

Before going into how well Clips really work, I need to discuss what it is and what exactly it is doing because it really does not look like any camera you have used before.
At its core, the Clips camera is an automatic point-and-shoot camera that is a kind of GoPro, but considerably smaller and flatter. It has a cute and simple appearance that is instantly recognized as a camera, or at least an icon of a camera application on your phone. Google, aware of how it is likely to be perceived as a "camera that takes pictures automatically when it sees you", clearly tries to make the Clips look friendly, with its white and green color scheme and its obvious camera style. But from those to whom I showed the camera while explaining what I was supposed to do, "it's scary" has been a common reaction.

One thing I discovered is that people know immediately that it is a camera and reacts like any other camera. That could mean avoiding their sight when they see it, or, as in the case of my three-year-old child, approaching him and smiling or lifting him. That has hindered the capture of candids, since, for Clips to really work, you must be close to your subject. Maybe over time, his family would learn to ignore him and those spontaneous photos could happen, but in my two weeks of testing, my family has not gotten used to his presence.
Inside you will find what is supposed to make Clips special: you are running Google's people detection algorithms to recognize familiar faces and "interesting" activity and then automatically capture the moments that may interest you. But Clips is not recording video or sound; Technically he is filming a lot of still images, which he then stitches into "clips" for seven seconds. You can edit them or take still images with the Clips application on your phone. It's basically doing high-resolution GIF outside of the image sequences.
The large button on the front of the camera can be used to take a picture manually (or "clip"), or you can use the application on your phone to see what the camera is watching and take pictures there. But the goal of Clips is to allow Google's camera and algorithms to automatically take pictures so you can enjoy your time and then look at the memories you capture later.
You can adjust the frequency of captures in the Clips application, and you can also "train" it with the people you care about by linking it with your Google Photos account. The Clips camera is supposed to know the faces of important people by whom it is exposed most often, but Google says that the data in the photos should accelerate this process.
The specifications of the camera are not the focus of the Clips, but they have an impact on how well you are able to achieve your goal, so here they are. It has a fixed focus f / 2.4 lens with a 130-degree wide-angle field of view, a single button and some LEDs, but without a screen or its own user interface. The camera connects to an iPhone, Google Pixel or Samsung Galaxy S7 or S8 via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi directly to download the images it captures and controls. (You can not connect to a computer to download content at this time).

The Clips camera sensor can capture images from 12 megapixels to 15 frames per second, which it then stores in its 16GB of internal storage, which is good for about 1,400 clips of seven seconds. The battery lasts approximately three hours between charges.
Included with the camera is a silicone case that makes it easy to prop up almost anywhere or, yes, fasten it to things. It is not designed to be a body camera or to be used. (Although I could do that, it would result in worse photos). Instead, it is meant to be placed in positions where you can also capture it in the frame. There are other accessories you can buy, such as a case that allows you to mount the camera Clips on a tripod for more positioning options, but otherwise, using the camera Clips is as simple as turning it on and putting it where you want it.
Once the camera has captured a lot of clips, use the application to browse them on your phone, edit them in shorter versions, take still images, or simply save everything in your phone storage to share and edit later. It is assumed that the Clips application must learn according to the clips you keep and consider "important" and then prioritize the capture of similar clips in the future. You can also press alternate to view the "suggested" clips to save, which is basically what the application thinks you will like from the clips you have captured.

So, how well does all this help you capture the memories that you otherwise could not? It's not good, unfortunately.
I've been testing the Clips with my two children for the past few weeks, and although I appreciate Google's mission for the product (seriously, whatever makes me put my phone more appreciated), I can not say that I'm terribly impressed or happy with the results. Most of the clips that I could capture were not looking better or were more authentic than I can already do with my phone or with a dedicated camera.
Part of that is due to the Clips camera hardware, which is not particularly good. (If you have one of the necessary phones to use the Clips, you already have a better camera there). The images that it captures are flat, grainy and, often, have a lot of motion blur, especially in interiors, where I used it most. The 15fps animations do not make the video fluid, and many times I lost the sound clips do not capture. Trying to get a quality of the sequence is equally frustrating, since, again, most of the images are full of motion blur; Children and pets tend to move a lot, you know.
Clips captures lack the necessary surprise factor to continue using it
It is bad enough that I think that the poor image quality completely exceeds the novelty of the Clips. Clips captures lack any kind of surprise factor, as the first time I saw Google Photos automatically assemble a GIF from a series of images I took or the first really excellent photo of the portrait mode of a smartphone.
The camera's ultra-wide field of view (captures something similar to what a 10mm lens sees in a full-frame DSLR) makes it easy to place it without a screen and be sure you get something in the frame, but It's bad for people's photos, because it distorts facial features in an unflattering way. Similarly, anything near the sides of the frame is very distorted. Your subjects should also be within approximately 10 feet of the camera, so they are not small in the resulting image. But the fixed focus lens of the Clips has a range of about three feet to infinity, so nothing near the camera is sharp. Even then, subjects within their range never look really good. That would not be a problem if the Clips captured poignant moments that I could not otherwise get, but as I mentioned earlier, that has not been the case in my experience.
See some sample screenshots of Google Clips converted to GIF format below. (Note: the resolution of the GIF is lower than the native resolution captured by the camera when using the Google Motion Photos format.You can click here to view the video and still images from the Clips camera.)

I imagine that with more time and use, Clips could have accidentally captured something really special, but in a couple of weeks of testing, it did not. In truth, the question is: to what extent do you trust the Clips camera and its algorithms to capture the moments that you would otherwise miss? By default, Clips does not take photos very often, but even when I modified their settings to increase their frequency, I was still very conservative with what I would capture. Many times, the seven-second burst was not long enough to capture what was really interesting, leaving me with many video clips with no sound to finish.
It is difficult to know what Clips are doing when they are active as well. A single LED flashes when the camera is on and looking for action, but there is no indication of when it is taking a series of photos. If you press the front button, three LEDs will light during the seven seconds you are capturing photos, but this does not happen with automatic captures. That left me wondering if the Clips were doing something more often than not, which led me to open the application a lot to see if I had captured something.

Google says that Clips is supposed to let you not worry about taking photos and videos and enjoying your time with your family. But he also admits that putting Clips in one place and leaving it there is not ideal either. (You really have to move it and put it in different places and angles to get the best results.) At that point, I could also use my phone, as I fiddle with the Clips camera to make sure it captures what I & # 39; My experience is as annoying as using a phone to take a picture.
Finally, when I take photos and videos with my phone, you are ready to edit and share. Although Google has made great efforts to make the shooting of the Clips camera as painless as possible, it is still a process that involves waiting for the camera to synchronize with the phone application, scrutinizing the captured clips and then moving them to my camera. phone before I can share them. I would be willing to go through all that if I got better results than I can capture with my phone (like when I use my camera without a mirror), but not for lower photos and videos.

I'm sure you could improve the use of the Clips camera with practice, have a better idea of ​​your ultra-wide field of view, find the best angles and positions for it, etc., but I'm not convinced that the effort involved would be rewarded with excellent results. So far, I have been much happier photographing and moving images of my children with the functions of Motion Photo and Live Photos that are already incorporated in camera applications on phones such as Pixel and iPhone.
That makes it difficult to justify the purchase and use of the Clips camera – beyond its cost, you also have to take it with you, making sure it is charged and then transfer your images to my phone – when I could use the phone I already had . have and get better images and videos without really feeling that I'm missing something that the Clips would have captured.
Clips need to offer more if you are going to justify their price and annoyance
Google is definitely something here. The idea is an admirable first step towards a new type of camera that does not stand between me and my children. But the first steps are difficult: ask any small child. Usually, after taking the first step, you fall. To make a backup again, Google Clips needs to justify its price, the hassle of setting it up and interlinking it with my phone. You need to make sure that by trusting him and keeping my phone, I will not lose anything important, and I will not have the burden of having to deal with many banal catches. Otherwise, it is just another redundant gadget that I have to invest too much time and effort to achieve very little in return.
That's a lot to ask of a small camera, and this first version does not quite arrive. To be at the height of everything, Clips needs to be a better camera and a smarter one.


Verge Score

Good material
Simple to configure
Cute design

Bad things
Very expensive
Bad image quality
It does not record sound
Redundant with your phone


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