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Insta360's thumb-size Go 2 camera is more exciting than your life

This super-small camera might not make your day-to-day more interesting, but it could unlock your creativity with help from its clever accessories.

Remember life-logging cameras? An ancestor to things like Snap Spectacles, they clipped to your shirt or hung from a lanyard around your neck so you could snap photos and video of your life with something less obtrusive than a phone. They were roundly terrible for multiple reasons -- image quality, battery life, price -- and, like every wearable camera designed to be inconspicuous, they had a high creepiness factor to them. While these tiny wearable cameras have all but disappeared, camera-maker Insta360 still thinks there's life in the category.

The new Go 2 camera is a follow-up to 2019's Insta360 Go and, although it's not drastically different in design, everything about it is better. Well, except for the price which is now $300 -- $100 more than the original. (It's also still a tad creepy.) The extra cost is worth it, though, especially for the included accessories. Pricing for the UK is £295 and in Australia is AU$480.

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The body is a record button -- for better or worse.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Insta360 is best known for its 360 cameras like the One R and the One X2, and tech from those trickles down into the Go 2's tiny body. For example, the camera now has a Pro video mode, letting you apply the latest version of its fantastic FlowState image stabilization that keeps the video looking smooth even while running. You're also able to change the field of view of your clips on the fly. Start from a 120-degree ultrawide-angle look or a 110-degree ActionView and switch to a linear view that takes out fish-eye distortion or a narrow lens effect for a tighter shot -- all available with a horizon lock so your video always looks level.

The camera can record at up 2,560x1,440-pixel resolution at either 30 or 50 frames per second, with a maximum bit rate of 80Mbps. It can also capture in 1080p resolution at those frame rates as well as 120fps for slow-motion clips. Other video options include HDR, time lapse and hyperlapse. And you can shoot a standard MP4 clip with basic in-camera electronic image stabilization that looks good and doesn't require the extra step of passing it through one of the Insta360's apps. 

You can shoot photos with the Go 2, too, in either Insta360's INSP format or DNG raw; both can be exported via the apps. 

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The included Pivot Stand has a sticky back so you can quickly -- and firmly -- attach it to smooth surfaces. 

Josh Goldman/CNET

Limitations, it has a few

Considering its size, the Go 2 can do quite a lot, but you do sacrifice some things compared to larger action cams. Both the battery and storage are built in, and you can run through both relatively fast. You do get 32GB of storage -- four times what was in the original -- but with its higher bit-rate and 1440p-resolution video, the clips take up more space. 

Likewise, battery life is improved, but still short. You'll get up to 30 minutes in 1440p at 30fps with basic video stabilization, which is nearly twice as long as the first-gen model. Clip length is also limited to 15 minutes at that those settings, and drops to 10 minutes if you want to use the FlowState stabilization. This is made for capturing quick clips to share on social, so the length limits are understandable. 

Also, and probably my least favorite "feature" of the Go 2 (and the Go for that matter) is that the body is essentially a giant record button as well as the button for changing shooting modes. And for turning it on and putting it to sleep. Between accidentally taking photos and video and not always being 100% sure what mode you're in, the whole setup is frustrating. 

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The included charging case is worth the extra cost. 

Insta360

The camera is good, but the accessories sell it

To get around using the camera's button you can connect the Go 2 to your phone and use the mobile app to change settings and remotely control it. However, you have a third option for control: the camera's charging case. The camera magnetically secures inside half of the body and automatically charges itself with the case's built-in battery. But the other half of the case has a screen and controls so you can change modes and start and stop recordings or take photos. 

When it's in this case you can record for up to 150 minutes and the camera can charge and record at the same time. The bottom of the case also has flip-out legs that turn it into a tripod, and it also has a standard tripod mount. Holding it open, you can use the case as a mini selfie stick or put the camera down up to 10 meters (33 feet) away and use the case's Bluetooth connection to remotely control the camera. 

Along with the charging case, you get a pivot mount that has a reusable sticky mount to attach it to smooth surfaces. A clip mount for attaching to a baseball cap or a headband. Of course, there's a magnet pendant too, so you can wear it around your neck. The pendant goes under your shirt while the camera snaps onto it from the outside to keep the camera from flying around while you're walking. 

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The magnetic pendant is a must-have for lifelogging. 

Josh Goldman/CNET

The Insta360 Go 2 is clearly an improvement over the first-gen version. The accessories are better, the image quality and shooting options are improved and it's even waterproof now down to 4 meters (13 feet). Regardless of the improvements and the awesome case (I really do like the case), the Go 2 is still a lifestyle camera mainly for first-person point-of-view video and not practical for everyone. 

If you live a life of adventure or you're regularly in action with family and friends, don't want a larger, more versatile general-purpose action camera and have $300 to spare, the Go 2 is probably worth it. Even with its limitations, you're not going to find a better option for life-logging and its size allows for creative uses you can't easily do with other cameras.