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Polaroid Cube+ review: The addition of Wi-Fi makes all the difference

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The Good The Polaroid Cube+ has the same supersmall lightweight design and ease of use as the original Cube, but with its wireless capabilities you can actually see what you're shooting by connecting to a smartphone or tablet. Video and photo features improve to include HD resolution slow-motion capture, time-lapse and full HD at 60 frames per second. Includes a case and 8GB microSD card.

The Bad Video and photo quality, though better than the original Cube, is still just OK, best suited for viewing at small sizes, such as on a smartphone. Integrated battery means you'll have to recharge or connect to a power source to keep shooting.

The Bottom Line The Polaroid Cube+ keeps all the good stuff from the original Cube -- namely its design, simple operation and reasonable price -- but the added wireless definitely makes it a better camera worthy of the extra cost.

7.4 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7
  • Image quality 6

Polaroid got a lot of attention last year for its Cube camera, a $100 (£90, AU$170) tiny square weatherproof camera that is little more than a lens with a power/record button on top and a magnet on the bottom for popping it onto a metal surface for hands-free shooting.

It's a great design for a casual-use video camera, but since it measures just 1.4 inches (35mm) square there's no room for a screen and that means you can't see what you're shooting. Similar cameras get around this by letting you connect wirelessly to an iOS or Android device so you can turn your smartphone or tablet into a viewfinder. But without Wi-Fi, the Cube can't do this.

The Cube+, on the other hand, has built-in Wi-Fi and also corrects a couple other shortcomings of the original and has more recording capabilities like time-lapse and slow-motion video. Polaroid did this all without any significant changes to its petite cubic design and for just a little more money: $150, £130 or AU$300.

Between the addition of Wi-Fi and the improved shooting features, you'll definitely want to spend the extra $50 for the Cube+ over the regular Cube. However, if video quality is a priority, you'll likely want to spend $50 more and go with a GoPro Hero4 Session. The $200 (£160, AU$300) Session is nearly as small, but it's fully waterproof down to 33 feet (10 meters) and has noticeably better video quality than the Cube+, among other advantages such as abundant mounting options.

polaroid-cube-plus-08.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

Design and features

The Cube+ isn't much more than what you see. 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 pry open a cover on back that's covering the microSDHC card slot (up to 128GB cards are supported; an 8GB card is included) and Micro-USB port for charging and transferring video and photos. The original Cube had a switch for selecting one of its two recording resolution: 720p at 30 frames per second or 1080p at 30fps. That switch is gone so you have to connect to a mobile device and use the app to switch resolutions. The upside is you get more options to choose from.

Polaroid lists the camera's top resolution as 1,440p at 30 frames per second and it is. To be clear, though, it does not record at 2,560x1,440 pixels -- a somewhat common widescreen resolution -- but 1,920x1,440 pixels, which is a 4:3 aspect ratio. For widescreen 16:9 recording, you have 1080p and 720p at 30fps or 60fps. The camera also has a slow-motion option of 720p at 120fps.

polaroid-cube-plus-12.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

Other recording options include clip-length limits of 5 or 15 minutes or unlimited; turning on a time stamp or loop recording (good if you want to use it as a dash cam); or time-lapse videos with shots taken 1 or 3 second intervals. For photos, you can capture them one at a time or in 10fps bursts for up to 100 shots. You can also set a 3 for 10-second timer if you want to set up and get in the shot.

Again, all of these settings are accessed via the mobile app. The only physical controls on the camera are two buttons -- one big, one small -- on top. Press the big one for a few seconds to turn it on and off. When on, press it once and it'll snap a picture. Give the button two quick presses to start recording and once more to stop. That's it, you've now mastered using the Cube.

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