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Polaroid XS100I Wi-Fi action camera review: Budget-friendly waterproof Wi-Fi action cam for families and kids

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The Good The Polaroid XS100i is an overall solid package for the money including built-in Wi-Fi and bike and helmet mounts as well as several other accessories. It has a standard tripod mount and is compact, lightweight, and waterproof without a housing.

The Bad The battery is built in, so you can't swap it out when the battery runs out of juice. Curved lens makes underwater video soft. Any camera shake causes Jell-O effect. Two apps are required to use all wireless features and there's some delay with live preview that might prove frustrating.

The Bottom Line As long as you respect its limitations and keep the camera steady, the Polaroid XS100i is a good easy-to-use budget-friendly option for dabbling in hands-free video.

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

The Polaroid XS100i is more or less a commodity action cam. By that I mean that it's a fairly generic camera that's been branded with the Polaroid name and doesn't compete with the bigger names in the category.

There's nothing wrong with this really and, in this case, it works out to be a pretty nice deal for those who just want a decent POV camera to mess around with. The XS100i sells for less than $180 (£140), and for the money you get a small waterproof camera with a good feature set and an accessory package that's a microSD card shy of complete.

Like most things, though, you get what you pay for when it comes to action cams and if video quality is your main concern, you'll want to spend more money. Still, if you can live within its limitations, which mainly means avoiding camera shake as much as possible, the XS100i is a budget-friendly action cam worth considering.

Design and features

Sarah Tew/CNET

One of the easiest ways for action cam makers to sweeten the deal is with accessories, and Polaroid comes through here. The camera has a standard 1/4-20 tripod mount (made of plastic, unfortunately) on the bottom, however the mounts that are included use a quick-connect clip system. The clip screws into the camera's tripod socket and then slides and locks into a mount. Included are horizontal and vertical ball-and-socket mounts for helmets (adhesive or vent) and handlebars.

It's the same system used for Monoprice's MHD action cam and iON's Air Pro models, so finding additional compatible mounts isn't too difficult, and, again, you can always use any mount that screws into the tripod socket, including GoPro mounts.

The bullet-shaped camera is reasonably compact measuring 4.3 inches long by 1.7 inches high by 1.7 inches wide (108 by 42 by 42.4 mm) and weighs 4.8 ounces (136 g). The plastic body is waterproof -- no housing necessary -- allowing you to dive down approximately 30 feet (10 meters), which means taking it in the sand and surf or snow or rain isn't an issue.

Sarah Tew/CNET

A locking twist-off cap on back keeps water and dust from reaching the microSDHC slot (cards up to 32GB are supported) and Mini-HDMI and Mini-USB ports. (Well, as long as you keep the seals free of debris, anyway.) There's also a switch for recording in full HD or 720p.

What you won't find is access to the rechargeable battery: it's built-in. Battery life is rated at 2.5 hours, though that's likely at 720p at 30 frames per second and not 1080p, and definitely with the Wi-Fi shut off. In mixed use with occasional use of Wi-Fi I got about an hour and a half out of it, which is on par with similar models, so expect somewhere in between that and 2.5 hours for straight recording.

Using the camera is easy. For video, you can just slide the switch on top forward and after a couple seconds the camera will vibrate to signal it's recording (there's an LED indicator on top, too). Slide the switch back and again the camera vibrates to let you know you've stopped recording.

Sarah Tew/CNET

There's also a power button/shutter release in front of the switch. You can long press that to turn on the camera, which allows the camera to start recording as soon as you slide the switch forward. A short press on the button takes a photo.

When you insert a microSD card and power it up, the camera stores small applications on the card (Windows and Mac) for changing settings. Connect the camera to a computer, launch the software, and you'll be able to pick the recording resolutions associated with the switch on the back of the camera as well as what photo resolution and mode you want to use.

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