Most of us are familiar with Polaroid first of all for instant cameras and accessories for them. Some probably also know about tablets, TVs, photo accessories and, of course, the company’s action cameras like the XS100i. The brand new Polaroid Cube falls into the latter category, although its dimensions (35x35x35 mm) and features are far from the concept of a standard action camera. It easily attaches to any metal surface and has an extremely attractive price tag, making it an extremely interesting solution for active shooting.
The tiny Cube easily fits in the palm of your hand, its rounded edges and smooth soft-touch plastic create only the most pleasant impressions. The body of the camera is dust and moisture resistant, so light rain or snow is not a hindrance to it. The novelty is available in three colors: black, red and blue, but all three are united by a common feature in the form of a rainbow strip along the entire body, which embodies the company logo.
On the back, there is a door that hides a microSDHC memory card slot (up to 32 GB) and a microUSB port for charging, transferring photos and videos, and for setting up the camera. Also behind the door is a switch between shooting modes: 720p at 30 frames per second, or 1080p at the same 30 frames.
As mentioned at the beginning, Cube is able to attach to metal surfaces, which was made possible thanks to the magnet built into the bottom face. The idea is simply amazing, as you can mount the camera almost instantly and almost anywhere, but in reality, not all surfaces have sufficient magnetic attraction. Knowing this, Polaroid has launched additional mounts for helmets, bikes, tripods, straps and everything else.
On the top edge, there is only one large button — the only control element for the camera. If you press and hold it for a few seconds, the camera turns on / off. Pressing once while the camera is on takes a 6‑megapixel snapshot, double pressing starts video recording, and another press stops recording. This is where all the “subtleties” of the Polaroid Cube control end.
On the front, directly below the lens, there is a small LED indicator that blinks red when video recording is turned on, and also blinks orange four times when the battery reaches 10% charge. This is the only camera feedback that the engineers were forced to use due to the savings on the LCD display or Wi-Fi module for control from a mobile device.
As soon as you insert a memory card into the Cube, a small application for Windows and OS X will be installed on it. The application allows you to configure the indicator, activate loop recording, and set the time and date.
The battery life is around 90 minutes and, as you probably guessed, the battery is non-removable, which means you can’t just swap it out and keep shooting. By the way, this camera can record even while charging from microUSB.
The quality of the video shot on the Polaroid Cube will be quite enough for social networks and viewing on mobile devices, but viewing on a large HDTV will only spoil the mood.
The bitrate of 1080p clips is a modest 8 Mb / s: each more or less complex object in the frame, such as trees or a brick pavement, turns into a one-color mess. Low-light video is very, very “noisy” so you should think twice before taking this camera for indoor shooting.
But in the end it’s not so bad: the colors in the video are very beautiful and vibrant, the built-in stabilization copes well with camera shake, and the exposure control is quite smooth (except for really difficult lighting conditions).
The quality of the pictures is about the same as the video: do not view them on large screens and do not shoot in the dark, and everything will be fine.
At first glance, the Cube is far behind many of its competitors from Sony or GoPro, which can shoot video at higher resolutions with higher frame rates and can last longer on battery, but none of the cameras from these companies has such an attractive design, small size and instantaneous attachment to metal surfaces. In addition, the youngest camera of the same GoPro, the Hero 2014 model, which recently visited our review, costs almost twice as much, which means that the Polaroid Cube clearly deserves your attention.