Polaroid Cube: A coin-sized action-video camera

The Polaroid Cube is a delightful little camera that takes still shots and video. Like the name suggests, it's a tiny little cube just 35mm on a side. It sticks to any and all magnetic surfaces—even your dinner fork. It can be tossed around and taken out on the town and record all of life's oh-so-precious moments. But so can your smartphone. Does being darling make a difference? Yes, but perhaps not enough to justify your $99.

With rounded corners and shock-absorbent skin, the Cube is meant to be held—and dropped. “You’re not going to be afraid to hand it to a toddler,” says Ammunition’s senior industrial designer, Gregoire Vandenbussche. “It’s made to withstand a few drops without a problem.” It’s also water-resistant.

We can't deny the aesthetic appeal of the Polaroid Cube. It's just so tiny and adorable that it immediately stands out from any of the other macho, tough action cameras on the market today.

We really grok the old-school Polaroid rainbow stripe that made the Polaroid One Step Land Camera so iconic. That stripe is what informed the design of the Instagram app logo, so it lives on in the minds of people that weren't born in the heyday of instant photography.

We have to hand it to the designers of the Cube: This action camera is small, and it keeps things very tidy. Ammunition, the house behind the iconic Beats headphones (pre-Apple ownership), is no stranger to creating strong brands through striking industrial design. Unfortunately, this is the first time we've been able to actually get our hands on it, since it was behind glass at CES 2014. It calls out to be touched and picked up and it's great to finally see it in the (rubber) flesh.

Of course, the front of the Cube is where its wide-angle lens lives. It's a 124-degree field of view and it can record 6 MP images, along with 1080p video. On its bottom is a recessed metal divot. This is a magnetic area designed to stick to exposed metal, making it easy to mount. Behind the lens is a... plastic plug. It's designed to be screwed out with a coin, exposing the microSD card slot, micro USB port, and simple 1080/720p resolution switch. The top of the device is where you can find the camera's record button. It couldn't be more straightforward.

Video and photo quality
Whether you like the clips that come out of the Cube comes down to how you plan to use and view the video.

The quality is fine for sharing online and viewing on mobile devices, but at larger screen sizes and viewed closely, it's much less pleasing.The bit rate is really low for 1080p video at 8Mbps and it shows. Any subject that is the slightest bit complex, like trees or moving pavement, turns into a mess of mushy detail and blocky artifacts. Low-light video is pretty noisy on top of all the artifacts and definitely something to keep in mind if you're looking at this for capturing a lot of indoor video.

These are things you might not notice when viewing at small sizes, though. Colors are pleasingly vivid and I didn't see much Jell-O effect from camera shake. Exposure changes are reasonably smooth, but if the camera is on a helmet, where you're frequently moving itthrough different lighting conditions, it can be a bit all over the place. Photo quality is like the video: don't look too closely or shoot in low light.

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