Saturday, July 22, 2017

Product review: Polaroid Cube+ 1440p Mini Lifestyle Action Camera with Wi-Fi & Image Stabilization

There is large number of small action cameras out there. Many of them are GoPro clones, Polaroid Cube+ is a little different.
I own a couple of GoPro clones so I thought it might be useful to compare the best of the clones to the Polaroid Cube+.

As far as the video quality, I would rank it below the 4K sports cameras. It does not do well when driving directly into the sun. It does quite well in good lighting, and it does well at night. I am attaching a video that shows clips taken under different conditions: into the sun, without sun beaming into the camera, at night on my dash, and at night on my roof.

I got the camera in January 2016 and the audio is working fine (audio is included in attached video). I read older reviews that mention a problem but it appears to have been fixed in the version I have.

The biggest difference between GoPro clones and Polaroid Cube+ is the mounting system. Polaroid Cube+ has a strong magnet as its mounting system. I has driven with it on my roof on the highway without losing the camera. We even hit a huge pot hole at 65 miles an hour and my husband had to hold me down "No, we cannot pull over and see if the camera is still there as we are not going to try to retrieve it if it is not there and get killed." But the cube was still there when we arrived.

Another big difference is the user interface. The GoPro sports cameras have a very intuitive rich interface driven by menus. The cube has one button and talks to the owner in beeps and LED color changes. Green is turned on, red means it is recording. This is a trade off Polaroid made to gain the small size.

The documentation that comes with cube is as minimalist as the user interface. You get a leaflet with several pictures. No words. This documentation is enough to turn on the camera and take pictures or video. However, there was no documentation with the name of the app and no documentation of how to turn on WIFI. When I turned on the camera I saw a new hotspot on my phone. I attempted to connect to it and it asked me for a password. Because I set up many WIFI on sport cameras I tried several variations of common passwords and guessed it correctly on the third try. I found the app by taking a guess and searching Google play on "Polaroid CUBE+". In my video you can see what the app looks like. Once I started the app it told me the default password for the hotspot. Once connected to the hotspot, the app connected the camera and WIFI without problems. The app name and the password should have part of the documentation. There is no excuse for making the user guess such basic things.

The camera comes with a bumper case. However, it somewhat decreases the strength of the magnet and I don't use it because I rather use all the magnetic power I have to make sure I don't lose the camera.

You can use the camera without changing configuration, but if you want to change config you need to run an app which is included on the micro sd card of the camera. If you want to run the software you will need to attach the camera to a computer (Windows or Apple). For Windows the name of the application is PolaroidCube.exe, for Mac the application is called

Configuration can change:
' Whether the camera overwrites old files when it runs out of space (the default is no)
' Whether you want to see a time stamp (the default is no)
' The volume of the buzzer (the default is good if there is no noise around, if you are using a camera as action camera it might be too low)
' Light frequency (50 Hz or 60 Hz). Default is 60 Hz
' The date/time

There is one button on top of the camera that controls everything
' To turn on the camera press the button for 3 seconds (green light turns on)
' To take a photo press once (red light turns on briefly as it saves the photo)
' To start video recording press twice (red light starts blinking as it records)
' To turn of video recording press once (red light stops blinking)
' To turn off press to the button for 3 seconds (the light goes off)

The video output is generated in MP4 format. Some cameras break up video in many files which are written out every several minutes. Polaroid CUBE+ writes out one large file for the entire trip. I personally like the small files approach better. If a file gets corrupted you don't lose the entire video, you lose just a segment. With that being set so far all videos I have recorded are playable, I had not bad files. I am using class 10 micro sd card that came in the package.

' This camera is very small. It is 1.25" cube.
' The lens on the camera is a wide angle (124 degrees)
' The battery is sealed in the unit and I don't see a way to replace it if I ever need it. At some point this will become a problem. When the camera goes down to 10% charge it beeps a warning. I am getting approximately 1.5 hours of continuous recording from it with the fresh battery.
' The camera can record while it is plugged in. The camera has an option to cycle, so it can overwrite old videos when it runs out of space.
' The camera has only a magnetic mount (there is no 1/4 mounting screw).
' The camera does not come with any other mounts, however I found that the packing box (which has a magnet) makes a nice stand that I can use on the dash of my car.
' The camera comes with a class 10 micro SD card.
' The camera charges with a regular micro USB cable. It works in all my chargers include a car charger.
' The camera comes with a short data cable. This cable allows you to transfer files from the camera to the computer. If you decide to use your own longer cable (which I am doing) make sure you are using a data cable not a charging cable (the cables that come with external power banks are often the charging cables). In a charging cables the two data connections are shorted together (rendering the cable useless for data transfer), but this fools devices to see the cable as an AC power connection and thus the battery accept a higher current for charging. For moving data from the camera to the PC you need a data cable.

Even though the video is not as good as my 4K sports camera, its unique mount is fun to use and gets unique views and sounds.

What improvements I would like to see? 4K video, 1/4" screw mount in addition to to the magnet mount, and better documentation.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆

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