What do you get, when you need an action video camera, to clip to the side of a motorbike helmet? This is something that I may lose or it is going to get damaged, therefore it cannot be expensive. I had this exact dilemma, should I spend lots on the latest camera, then I realised what about buying some older tech. My answer was the Polaroid CUBE, the size was perfect and so was the cost. I did not realise that my choice, was going to be a great buy, I saved a shed load of money and have little worry about losing it, or any damage (although this would be a shame….)
There is a lot of tech out there, all claiming to be great. The good thing about the older tech market is that is has been well tested and already has a rating. In general cameras have not really changed, as long as they were good before, they will be good now. The only difference between new and old will be some modern twists, extra mega-pixels, stabilisation, Wi-Fi, Blutooth, new software and obviously the cost. I need a blogging video camera, for a new project involving motorcycles, there is no way I’d be taping my big SLR camera to my helmet. Instead it needs to go on the side of my helmet, in all weather conditions and be of good enough quality for my reviews. It is going to get abused, so a more robust unit is needed. The Polaroid Cube, a HD Action Camera has really come through, with its tough rubber exterior it designer was a genius.
The Polaroid CUBE is now 4 years old. It is still very much a main stream camera (even getting and upgrade to the ‘plus’ version) and it already has loads of great clamp on equipment for sale. I decided to splash a little cash and got one from Amazon. It is purely for recording motorcycling footage so a helmet mount was also ordered. Now I have used it, it is such a great unit I am planning on using it more often for my other YouTube videos and not having viewers hanging off the side of my helmet.
These Polaroid CUBES are now more than 50% cheaper than when they first came out. Retail is still marked at £138 but right now they can be snapped up for a little as £51 on Amazon. They are a real bargain. Being it was an order from Amazon, a Polaroid Cube and Helmet mount arrived a day later. When it came I realised that it was smaller than I thought, which is great as I do not want a huge unit to hang off the side of my helmet.
For a robust, HD camera, this is not a lot of cash. There are cheaper and less well made units out there, the ones I looked at were hidious. Most were cheap Chinese imports and having be caught by one before (it fell apart after the second use) I was not going back to that. Even the half decent looking ones, looked fragile, none had the tough exterior and more importantly they were at least twice the size of the Polaroid CUBE.
Using the Polaroid CUBE is so easy. There is one button for all its functions. Push and hold the button for a few seconds, there is a audible beep and it is on. Push the button once, it clicks and takes a photo. Push the button twice (quickly) and it starts recording video footage. Pushing once more when you’re done and it switches the video off. When it needs to be swtiched off and save the battery, push and hold the button for a few seconds, it beeps and switches off.
Underneath the unit there is a silver disk, this is a magnet. It is strong enough to hold the unit in place, without any movement and it is going to be very useful in my future videos. I can now mount the Polaroid CUBE, without needing a clamp, tripod or bracket, but it means I have to do all my reviews next to metal structures.
There is a waterproof twist off cap, to access the internal workings. Removing the cap is easy, I used a 10p coin. Inside there are 3 areas of interest. The first is the SD card slot, push a card in wait for it to catch, it is done, no formatting required. There is a toggle switch to change from SD to HD camera settings (720 to 1080 recording). The third area is the charging or download port. A cable is provided to plug it all in and popping the USB port into my laptop charged it and also gave me easy access to the recorded files. Downloading the footage was easy, just drag and drop to copy them to the desktop.
The footage is of good quality, I was not expecting anything amazing, but for the cost and age of the camera, the result I got was more than what I had expected to see.Check out the Youtube clip.
Having used the CUBE for a while now, the battery seems to be endless. Only having to plug in the CUBE to download footage for a few minutes seems to be keeping the unit topped up enough for it not to have ran out of power. The other great thing is that as it is provided with a USB charger, I can use any USB point (including ones in cars) to give it a boost.
I had to work out the best place for mounting the camera on my motorbike helmet. Having a flip front helmet, the mount should not stop me from using the helmet. I decided to put the Polaroid CUBE to the side of the visor. Securing the mount, to the side of my helmet was easy. A wipe down and the use of the 3M supplied sticker and the mount was pressed on. Once it was on, it does not seem to want to come off, which is what I want. The camera can also be mounted into the bracket in any direction (Portrait or Landscape view) which is perfect for what I want to use it for.
The Polaroid CUBE helmet bracket has a two button release and removes the camera and bracket easily, making helmet storage easy. The solid clunk that the bracket gives, when reattached gives a sense of security and does not make me worry about it falling off.
Problem with sound
Having used the Polaroid CUBE for a few weeks, I used the Filmora software to edit the footage to upload to YouTube and never had a problem. Then I just wanted to view it and used the standard media player. There was not a problem, the images and video worked but there was no sound. I stored the images from the cube on my laptop to sort later. No matter what I did, the sound appeared to be lost.
Researching this issue, I found that Mediaplayer does not support Polaroid images. A support page recommended using the opensource, free VLC player. It was the player of choice by other Polaroid users, so now I have another video player to use on my laptop.
For the price, build quality, size, features, reputation and standard of recording, I am really impressed. The camera was purchased on a whim and I am so glad I got it. This CUBE really will help my blog and videos and it hopefully means that I can get a few more motoring and motorcycle reviews done. So watch out for some more great video content when my new project launches soon.
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