After looking at the Polaroid Cube I expected it to be a fun little toy camera meant to capture life’s moments on the fly in a fun, playful package aimed at teenagers.
Polaroid calls it an HD lifestyle action video camera which is weatherproof/splash proof, mountable and built to handle everything you can imagine. Polaroid is quick to point out, however, that they are not trying to compete with “action cameras” with the Polaroid Cube – in fact, they have a bona-fide action camera that competes directly in that space. We’ll look at that camera in a review later.
The good people at Polaroid make this distinction since the size of the Cube will make people think of one popular action camera in particular. While I get their point, they might consider tweaking the description of the product on the PolaroidCube.com website from “Sports Lifestyle Action Video Camera” to something less action-y like “Sports Lifestyle Video Camera” or “Super-Cute-Fun-Quirky Lifestyle Video Camera That You’re Gonna Wanna Hug And Kiss.” My advice is free. You’re welcome.
With my first impressions in mind I took this diminutive video camera to my crack team of 15 and 12-year-old in-house wannabe YouTube stars. Initial comments included “they stole that stripe from Instagram,” “that’s weird,” and “is it waterproof?!?” After a brief history lesson in branding whereby I corrected the record so the young filmmakers understood that, in fact Instagram stole the stripe from Polaroid proper street-creed was established.
Since the 12-year-old is only concerned with skateboards, One Direction, and whether electronics can be submerged in anything and still work, her review was quick.
“I can play with it in the rain?” “Yes.” “Good.”
“I can put a case on it and drop it in the water and it will still work?” “Yes.” “Good.”
“I can throw it?” “Yes – but you will probably break it.” “Oh, okay. It’s cool.”
The 15-year-old is a bit more nuanced. She likes the idea that she can throw it in her backpack and always have it ready to go. She creates her own personal blockbusters on her iPhone so the need for the Cube is a bit lost on her. But it is cute enough that she suggests making a necklace with the Cube. Still functional and más fun. She’s the crafty one.
I took the Polaroid Cube and played with it around the office to test out the video it produces with standard indoor lighting. I then took it on an errand and sat it on the hood and roof of my car as I drove around town. Did it fall off? No – it has a magnet in the base of the cube. It just so happens this little magnet is strong enough to easily withstand driving 70 mph on a highway on a windy day – nice surprise. What else does this little block of magic have in it?
The Cube records 1080p/720p video and shoots 6MP still photos using a 124º viewing angle. Out of the box it’s weatherproof and splash proof. It has an LED indicator which tells you when the camera is on (green light), when it is recording video / taking a photo (red flashing light) and when it has less than 10% battery, is missing the microSD card, or is plugged into a computer (orange solid light). A microphone is situated just below the lens and the Cube has a non-removable high capacity battery which is rated at 90 minutes of recording time. In our tests, we got about 60 minutes of battery life. Hipsters can get their Cube in black, red, or blue.
On the top of the camera you have a single button.
- To turn the camera on (and off) press the button and hold it for about 3 seconds.
- To take a photo – tap the button once.
- To start a video you double-tap on the button. To stop the video recording taps the button once.
On the back of the camera you have the microSD card slot, a switch to set the video camera to 720P or 1080P, and the microUSB plug for charging and connecting to your Mac or PC.
Polaroid is targeting The Cube at families, or general consumers who are looking for an easy to use, friendly device. While indie filmmakers are not the intended target for this product, the possibilities using this as a specialty camera on projects are exciting. Set it on a desk during an interview; put it on a shelf in a room, hide it in a planter, stick it behind your ear, no-one will probably even notice it is there.
This camera is fun. It’s designed to be simple, functional, and playful. It succeeds on all points. While Polaroid classifies the Cube as being an “HD” camera – I think that means something other than “high definition” – the video tends to be a bit mushy in places and there isn’t much detail at all in the shadows. However in the end I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of video and nice audio.
Out of the box the Polaroid Cube comes with a USB charging cable, a limited warranty, and a simple user’s guide for a list price of $99. Those wanting cute mounts and accessories for the Cube can purchase one of several accessories made specifically for it. These include a waterproof case for $24.99 (list), a waterproof case with a suction mount for $39.99 (list), or a helmet mount, a strap mount, a tripod mount, a bumper case, a bicycle mount, or a monkey stand which all list for $17.99 each. Don’t forget to pick up a microSD card for the camera as it does not come with one in the packaging.
A few tips on making the best of this purchase:
- Video is recorded in .MOV format which can easily be uploaded to YouTube or Facebook. It plays nice with Mac, but you *may* need a specific video player for PC. VLC is a good all-around solution here.
- Videos are split into 5 minute clips in the camera.
- Both 1080p and 720p video files are approximately 290 MB and are recorded at 30 fps.
- About 106 video clips (9 hours of footage) will fit on a 32 GB memory card.
- If you leave the back cover off, you can charge while recording video or taking pictures but you can not record while plugged into your computer. Disconnecting the power does not stop video recording.
Overall this is a cute little camera and a great value. The Polaroid Cube takes decent photos and very nice video. This little marvel packs a ton of video-making fun in a tiny, very inexpensive package.