Polaroid brand appears on new action camera line


posted Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 10:56 AM EST


Planning on buying an action camera any time soon? The number of options available to you--and the number of competitors to the venerable GoPro--are continuing to increase. First JVC and then Sony muscled in on the GoPro's turf, and now Polaroid wants a piece of the action too. (Or at least, C&A Marketing Inc. wants in, and has a license to the Polaroid brandname with which to boost customer recognition.)

Starting from the middle of this month, C&A will be launching three action camera models under the Polaroid brand. Of the three, the Polaroid XS100 (US$200) looks to be the most sophisticated, with a five megapixel image sensor and a 170-degree wide-angle lens in an aerodynamically-shaped body. The XS100 is said to be waterproof to ten meters (33 feet), and shockproof to an unspecified degree. It includes both still and video capability, with the latter recorded at up to 1080p (1,920 x 1,080 pixel) resolution. Stills can be interpolated in-camera to 16 megapixels, although this will waste significant storage space and could easily be accomplished post-capture on your PC, so smart users will disable the function. Other features include an orientation sensor used to label images as portrait or landscape automatically, a burst-shooting mode of unspecified speed, an interval-shooting (time lapse) function, fast-motion and slow-motion video modes, and the ability to create a reduced-resolution copy of videos automatically in-camera.

The Polaroid XS100 is the most sophisticated--and highest-priced--of the trio.

The Polaroid XS20 ($100), meanwhile, has a similar form-factor and is based around a CMOS image sensor of unspecified resolution. It can capture five megapixel stills or 720p (1,280 x 720 pixel) videos for up to three hours on a single battery charge. The lens is much smaller and less wide-angle than that of the XS100, but its waterproofing is better, being rated for around 20 meters (66 feet),  although that's still just one third of the 60 meter rating for a GoPro in its housing. Unlike the GoPro, though, the Polaroid XS20 has eight built-in LED lights to help illuminate your subject. There's also a motion detection function, but it isn't clear if this uses the image sensor itself to detect motion, or relies on an external sensor to help save power.

Unusually, the Polaroid XS20 has built-in LED illumination and motion-detection functionality.

Finally, the Polaroid XS7 ($70) is by far the most affordable of the group, and is more GoPro-like in form factor. It too is waterproof, but like a GoPro must rely on an underwater housing to achieve this, and even with that housing it's safe to just ten meters (33 feet.) Unlike a GoPro, the Polaroid XS7 has a built-in two inch LCD touch panel. It's not clear if the touch functionality can be used in the underwater housing--we're guessing not--but it's nice that the feature is there, even if the screen is tiny by modern camera standards. Like the XS20, the Polaroid XS7 captures images at up to five megapixel resolution and videos at 720p, but it may well be interpolating to achieve these since the CMOS sensor resolution isn't stated.

The entry-level Polaroid XS7 looks much like a GoPro, but is far cheaper, has a small touch-screen LCD, and its housing provides a much lower level of waterproofing.