A couple weekends ago I was out shopping with my wife, and my brother-in-law and while out we happened upon a “Full HD Action Camera” for $20.00 and were very surprised, yet skeptical. The camera is the Polaroid Cube Act Two.
One note I feel obliged to point out is that I am a huge fan of GoPro and their products and know what is possible in a compact size.For me this looked like something intriguing. It was about the size of an ice cube, and supposedly shot at 1080p, and was ridiculously cheap.
It turned out that the price that was indicated was for an accessory, something like a case, and was put in the wrong location. I was about to take the card up to the checkout, but I changed my mind as I didnt want to make a fuss about this as it wasnt something I was in dire need to purchase.
Flash forward to earlier this week. I was on Amazon and I happen upon it again, and this time it really was $20.00.
This time I said, “why not,” and I went ahead and bought it.
Now, I am used to my iPhone which records in 4K, and my GoPro Hero 5 that shoots in 4K as well, and the GoPro Session at 2K, so I had to remind myself to go into this with an open mind. This camera is only $20.00.
Unboxing and Overview:
I received the camera next day, thank you Amazon, and I immediately opened it up and started checking it out.
It is small. About the same size as the Hero Session. It has one button, and a back plate that unscrews nicely revealing the only other interface – a toggle to go between 720p and 1080p – and the charging port, and a microSD card slot.
After looking it over I put the camera on a charger and looked at what else it came with. Included was a microSD Card (more on this later), a carabiner, a string with a clamp on it, and a piece of cardstock with the basic operating instructions.
The microSD card is actually pretty important. The card includes software for Windows and MacOS that allows you to change some settings for the camera, and the text settings file that the camera uses.
After allowing the camera to charge for a bit I threw the card into the camera and gave it a couple test shots. The results… Less than stellar. The camera’s sensor definitely needed more light. The videos that I took were in a poorly lit room and at night as this came in after work. For a situation where you’re out and about and having fun with friends, the quality would be adequate… The issue is, who is going to use this in place of their phone which they already have on them. So, even for $20.00, not worth it.
At this point I decided to try it again, but with better lighting.
I am not really sure what the goal is with this camera. For the price the video quality is fine. The videos above were not recorded in “ideal” conditions, but it is a realistic scenario for someone to be out and about and taking video on an overcast day and to expect decent quality. There was at least even light, the iPhone did fine – understanding the cost difference, but the Polaroid struggled. For $20.00, it was fine, but the issue comes in the marketing as an action camera.
As an inexpensive action camera, I am not convinced. The frame rate is supposedly 30 fps, but the video is extremely choppy and unusable. I recorded myself walking back into the building and every step the picture was unusable from the shaking. For any real action camera I personally believe you need a minimum of 60 fps, but realistically 120 to not have the motion blur.
I can understand the resolution being 1080p and not higher, as most people likely still have a 1080p setup, but the quality was not very good nonetheless.
As a novelty, it is fine, but whats the point even then. Most people already have a higher quality camera in their pocket, and add into that the form factor, this is a less than ideal setup.
The best use case I can think for this is likely as a kids video camera. This would be a good option to get them interested in making videos, and something that wont kill the parent’s wallet if it is beat up.
For me, I bought it on a whim, and I don’t regret it. I can likely find a use for it, so long as it is setup on a steady surface in a well lit area.
No. Not even for $20.00.
For most people I would say save your money and find a used GoPro Hero Session. This would be a comparable form factor and at the time of writing I have seen them from $45.00-$90.00 pre-owned on eBay.
With the GoPro you also will find a vast market of awesome accessories out there and the video quality is definitely worth it.