Gadgets

Ultrasmall Polaroid Cube

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Polaroid Cube  (4)

The $99 Polaroid Cube measures 1.4 inches square (35mm), weighs 1.6 ounces (45.4g), and from appearances consists of little more than a camera lens and one button.

This is a camera you toss in your bag or attach to yourself or your bike, skateboard, and so forth, so you can capture hands-free video for sharing online.

It’s also small and light enough that you could attach it to a quadcopter or other RC vehicle.

Polaroid Cube  (2)

Design and features

The wide-angle lens has a 124-degree angle of view, so you get a lot of the scene you’re shooting with some barrel distortion that’s pretty standard for the category. The body is shock-proof and weatherproof, so a little rain or snow won’t hurt it but you wouldn’t want to submerge it.

With the edge of a coin you can remove the small circular cover on the back that’s covering the microSDHC card slot (up to 32GB cards are supported; none are included) and Micro-USB port for charging, transferring video and photos, and setting the camera’s date and time. You’ll also find a switch for selecting your recording resolution: 720p at 30 frames per second or 1080p at 30fps.

On the bottom is a magnet. It’s a cool idea since it means you can instantly pop it onto metal surfaces and mount the camera.

On top is one big button, the camera’s only control. Press it for a few seconds to turn it on and off. When on, press it once and it’ll snap a 6-megapixel picture. Give the button two quick presses to start recording and once more to stop.

There is a small LED status light in front of the button, and it will emit beeps as well. For example, it beeps when you start a recording and the light blinks red. When the battery reaches 10 percent, it beeps four times and the LED turns orange.

Polaroid Cube  (3)

A small application for Windows and Mac gets dropped onto your microSD card when you put it in. This allows you to set the beep volume as well as adjust the date and time, turn on a time stamp, and activate cycle recording. That last one will allow to loop the recording so you can use the Cube as a dashboard camera; the Cube can record while being powered by a Micro-USB cable.

Battery life is somewhat short at about 90 minutes and, as you might imagine, the battery is not removable so you can’t just pop in a fresh one. The camera is geared toward creating quick clips, though. While you can keep recording until the battery dies or your memory card fills up, the Cube chops your recordings into 5-minute clips.

Polaroid Cube  (1)

Video and photo quality

The quality is fine for sharing online and viewing on mobile devices, but at larger screen sizes and viewed closely, it’s much less pleasing.

The bit rate is really low for 1080p video at 8Mbps and it shows. Any subject that is the slightest bit complex, like trees or moving pavement, turns into a mess of mushy detail and blocky artifacts. Low-light video is pretty noisy on top of all the artifacts and definitely something to keep in mind if you’re looking at this for capturing a lot of indoor video.


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