Polaroid XS7 First Impressions Review
Pitched as a toy, the Polaroid XS7 offers an impressive range of features for such an inexpensive sports cam.
When you hear the name “Polaroid,” what do you think of? No, not steroids for polar bears (get it?). You think of instant film cameras. You think of the sound the classic XS70 makes as it spits out a fresh image. And you think of your mom flapping the print in the air to (theoretically) quicken its development. Or maybe you think of movies like Memento and Almost Famous. What you probably don’t think of is waterproof camcorders. But that’s the Polaroid of today.
Since the company discontinued production of its instant film cameras in 2008, it’s been on a quest to reinvent itself within the ever tightening world of digital imaging. With one foot still in the realm of “alternative” photography, the brand has also found a home in sports video. One of its newest products, the XS7, is a perfect example of this.
The cheapest of Polaroid’s three new “action camcorders,” the XS7 is a mere $69. It’s essentially a toy; Polaroid is even launching it at Toys ‘R’ Us. So if you take the XS7 for what it is, which is a plaything, you’re more likely to enjoy it. And really, for $69? There’s only so much complaining you can do.
Design & Usability
Childishness aside, the XS7 looks and feels like something designed to go underwater.
Part HAL 9000, part James Cameron thingamajig, it’s intended for people who wear Che Guevara T-shirts and say “rad” a lot (just go with it), and parents who want to keep an eye on their children when they’re not around.
The plastic shell fastens securely around the camera unit, and the buttons are all intuitively positioned. Polaroid has a penchant for simplicity; it shows in all their products and the XS7 is no exception. If anything, though, it’s too simple. The camera itself is not much bigger than a golf ball, and it easily slides out of the case when opened. While the waterproof container is integral to the overall function, it’s easy to imagine someone losing or accidentally stepping on the camera unit.
For something that costs as much as a pair of pants, the XS7 has some interesting features. Some.
It has loop recording, a 2-inch touchscreen display (not accessible with the case on), recording time of up to an hour, both still and video shooting (a measly 720p), and protection for up to 10 meters of water depth. It can even zoom, although it’s extremely slow, and the touch response is pretty weak. But in thinking about other low-end adventure cams—most of which have only a couple buttons, meaning you have to scroll through the options—it’s impressive that this cam even has a touchscreen.
None of these stats really induce awe, but for something that’s being billed as a toy it’s pretty darn cool. We did notice, however, that the camera is not OS X compatible, which is frustrating regardless of price.
If you're sitting there thinking...
... for $69 it must be a hunk of junk, we’ll admit it feels a bit cheap, and it’s hard to imagine this thing having a super long lifespan. Once again, though, you get what you pay for, and we imagine adventure cam enthusiasts could glean some value from it—whether they use it as a semi-disposable helmet cam or in a snorkeling contraption.
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