We Love That Polaroid Is Back With The Cube+!

I just can’t contain my excitement that Polaroid is back with the Cube+. Yes, I’ve already compared the Cube to the GoPro HERO, but wanted to talk about the Polaroid Cube+ just a bit more because it’s pretty cool and photogs like me appreciate these reinventions.

First, A Little Background History

Polaroid has been in the photography business for over 75 years, and had a very recognizable name due to their focus on instant photography.  In this type of photography, which Polaroid pioneered, the photographer could capture an image on an inexpensive camera and then almost immediately have a print due to the special film that the camera used and Polaroid manufactured.  This film did not require processing in a lab and provided almost instantaneous photographs.  Older photographers will remember taking a picture and removing the film from the camera and waiting a few minutes as the film developed in their hands, before removing the protective backing from the paper for an instant print.  While these cameras were very popular, Polaroid, as well as many of the other film manufacturers, did not see the transition to digital cameras coming and as a result, Polaroid was hurt very badly from a business perspective, as they jumped on the digital train very late.

In addition to entering the digital camera market with the Polaroid “Snap”, which is a digital camera that directly prints 2” x 3” photographs from the camera body, Polaroid has also entered into the growing and very popular market for action or “lifestyle” video cameras.  These cameras mainly shoot video, where the photographer is the participant in the activity and records the event from their perspective, while they are actually doing it.  Polaroid first entered into this market with the very popular “Cube” and in 2015 introduced the “Cube+”, which is the improved version of the original “Cube” and is a great alternative to the more expensive Go Pro series of action cameras.

Getting Into the Action Camera Game

Action cameras such as the Cube+ are designed to be mounted on objects such as a car, helmet or a bicycle and record the action as it happens.  One of the great things about the Cube+ is the size and weight of the camera, which make it very easy to mount using a number of mounts offered by Polaroid as accessories.  These accessory mounts include waterproof cases, suction mounts, tripod mounts, helmet mounts, bicycle mounts, strap mounts and a “monkey stand”, which is a mini tripod.  The camera also features a built-in magnet on the bottom face as well that allow the camera to be securely attached to anything made of steel.  As one would expect from the name of the camera the camera is symmetrical in size measuring 35.5mm high, 35.5mm wide and 35.5mm deep and weighs next to nothing at 2.1 ounces.  It is hard to believe that this camera is approximately 1” on each side!

The Pros

The body, which is available in black, red or blue with rainbow stripes on the sides of the body, is clean as well with the 125° wide angle lens being on one face with a power button being on another face, which also allows the photographer to select either video or still images.  The top face features a LED light to indicate when the camera is on, as well as a button to turn the camera’s WIFI system on and of.  On the rear face of the camera, there is a door that conceals the USB port, as well as the memory card slot.  The camera body is very clean and does not have buttons or switches that can be snagged by clothing or broken off while in use.

The incorporation of WIFI into the Cube+ is one of the upgrades to the original Cube and is a very useful feature that really improves the performance of the camera.  Cube+ owners will download an “app” in either IOS or Android formats to their smartphone, which will allow their smart phone to remotely operate the camera via WIFI at distances up to 30’ away.  Some of the operations include “live view”, as well as the type of video to select, with the photographer’s smartphone being able to completely control and change the camera’s settings remotely via the “app”.   In the field, the “app” is very user-friendly and intuitive, allowing the menu to be easily navigated.  In practice, the camera’s WIFI system connected very quickly as long as the camera was in range of the WIFI source.

The Cube+ is capable of shooting video in HD, as well as other formats as well with frame size varying from 1440p to 1080p in HD quality to 720p in non-HD formats.  Depending upon the video format used, frame rates will vary from 30-120 frames per second.  Still-images are captured at 8 megapixels.   Image quality on the Cube+ is generally good in most lighting situations due to the camera’s 4 CMOS sensor, which is interpolated into 8 megapixels, as well as its built-in image stabilization.  However, the image quality of still and video images does suffer in low light situations, which is not surprising given the price point of the camera.  In most cases the still and video quality are usable, however, the image quality is definitely downgraded and the difference is definitely noticeable.

Images are stored in a single card slot, which can hold a micro SD card with a memory capacity of up to 128GB.  Currently, a micro SD card is included with the camera.  Depending upon the size of the card used, the Cube+ can record up to 107 minutes of video, which also includes audio that is captured via a built-in microphone in the camera.  Generally, it takes approximately an hour to recharge the camera’s built in camera via a USB cord, which is connected to a power source.

One of the things that many will find useful is the durability of the camera, which despite being made of plastic, has weather sealing built in.  Although not capable of being operated underwater without an optional waterproof housing, the camera will hold up fine in most situations in  the field where the camera may encounter moisture of dust.  It also has is capable of absorbing shock as well and the included bumper case further protects the camera.

Polaroid Cube+ Key Features – At a Glance

While most serious photographers look at image quality over technical specifications, many feel that the specifications are equally important.  The Polaroid Cube+ has impressive technical specifications for a small and inexpensive action camera, which are shown in the table below.

Item Polaroid Cube+
Year Introduced 2015
Sensor Type CMOS
Megapixels 8
In Camera Optical Image Stabilization Yes
Card Slots Single
Lens Fixed; 124° Wide Angle Lens
Card Type Micro SD
Video Yes
Video Type HD In At 1440p & 1080p, As Well As 720p.  Frame Rate Varies From 30-120 Frames Per Second Depending Upon The Format Selected
Video Format .MOV
Recording Time Up To 107 Minutes
Built In Microphone Yes
GPS No
Wireless Yes
WIFI Yes
Battery Built In Rechargeable; Charging Via USB Cable
Moisture and Duct Resistant Yes
Body Construction Plastic
Unique Features Ultra Small, Light Weight, Variety Of Colors
Included Items Built In magnet,  Micro SD Card, Bumper Case, USB Cable, Instructions
Size  35.5mm x 35.5mm x 35.5mm
Weight 2.1 Ounces
Manufactured In China
Cost $149.99 (For current pricing and discounts.)

*Information from Polaroid Cube website, including pricing.

The Final Flash

All in all, I really like the Cube+.  Polaroid did a great job in making an inexpensive action camera that retails for $149.99 that also provides acceptable performance.  They were also very successful in creating a very stylish camera by utilizing an outside design firm to assist in the physical design of the camera, while Polaroid focused on the camera’s technical features. The look of the Cube+ is one of the  features that separate the Cube+ from the competition in this market.  It is very contemporary and will appeal to many people looking for small and lightweight camera capable of shooting still and video images. It is rare to find a stylish camera that is also functional as well!

The Cube+ is a great alternative to the more expensive GoPro line of cameras in the action camera market.  Anyone looking for a camera that is capable of recording action events in video “live” as they are happening  from the perspective of the photographer should consider the Cube+.  You never know when you might capture that perfect ski run that you might want to post on YouTube!  The Cube+ can help make that happen.

Robert Alexander
 

A camera geek and freelance photographer, Robert (Aka "Rob" or "Bob") spends way too much time examining the finer points of cameras.

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