Polaroid Cube review: Hands-free video in an ultrasmall package

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The Good The Polaroid Cube is an ultrasmall and lightweight action cam for catching life's little moments on the fly. It can be used for capturing HD-resolution video, snapping photos, and as a dashboard cam.

The Bad The only mount included is its built-in magnet. No microSD card is included for storage. Video quality is just OK considering the price. Video is split into 5-minute clips while recording.

The Bottom Line The eye-catching Polaroid Cube is an inexpensive 1080p action cam with video quality that takes a backseat to design.

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

It might be indelibly linked to instant cameras and film, but the Polaroid brand has long been seen on other products like tablets, televisions, headphones, and, yes, action cams such as the XS100i .

The $99 Polaroid Cube (£89, AU$149) falls into that category, too, though its size and features definitely set it apart from your average POV cam. The 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.

And really, that's not far from the truth. 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, though for that you might be better off with something like the Mobius or Dimika action cams. They might not be as interesting to look at, but they offer more functionality for the same price.

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 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.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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. The problem I ran into more often than not was that the metal on my bike or skateboard didn't provide enough magnetic attraction to hold the camera. The parts that did frequently weren't horizontal, and the video doesn't rotate in any way. The Cube did, however, stick to the hood of my car and it withstood driving at up to 40mph (64kmh).

Again, it's a cool idea, but it would have been more useful to have made the magnet a cover for a tripod mount instead of being the one and only way to mount the Cube out of the box. Even just a simple lanyard or clip would have been nice to have for this "lifestyle action camera."

Polaroid has several mounts that will be available, but it means you'll be laying out more money for something as basic as a helmet mount. Or, at the very least, you'll be looking for a way to add a piece of metal to whatever you want to attach it to.

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. That's it, you've now mastered using the Cube.