Polaroid X720E review

Waterproof digital camcorder for winter sports
Photo of Polaroid X720E
£69.99

Home movies on the piste are what Polaroid’s X720E is all about, and we’re not just talking about the ropey VGA quality. The clue is in the name; the X720E can film in 720p HD quality, which ought to put your skiing technique into sharp focus.

Looking every bit like a budget version of the gone-but-not-forgotten Flip Video camcorder, this simple point-and-shoot effort has a few rugged edges. As well as a nicely solid look and feel to it, where the X720E’s designers have hidden its ins and outs pretty carefully. The end result, is a waterproof camcorder – although it’s only guaranteed to three metres depth. 

Design & Specs

If that makes the X720E more suited to snorkelers than divers, then it’s also likely to appeal to anyone spending time outdoors in rain and snow – or around kids and paddling pools. Its control mechanisms are protected by a small rubber panel, beneath a paltry two-inch LCD screen. These buttons aren’t very sensitive and often have to be pressed a few times, while the user interface is pretty basic.

The X720E has two waterproof hatches that require two hands to open. This is along with a side-compartment with slide-locking double doors for its two AA batteries, and another on its top. This hides a microSD card slot, which is capable of taking a 16GB variant and that’s about four hours of HD video. There is also an HDMI output and a mini USB port for exporting pictures to a PC. This is indeed a PC-only affair, as it ships with basic PC-only ArcSoft picture editing software. Also in the box is a lanyard, mini USB-USB cable, and a mini HDMI-HDMI cable for hooking-up to a HD Ready telly. 

Videos are saved as MOV files and can be shot in either QVGA (320×240), VGA (640×480) and WVGA (800×480) quality in up to 30 frames per second. We tested the X720E on its full power 1280×720 mode, not full HD, but close enough. The photography option offers three, five or eight megapixels. Both video and picture capture modes are hampered by the existence of just a 3x digital zoom, though it’s the lack of extruding parts that makes the X720E so attractive for travel. The video and stills share the same basic landscape, night landscape, portrait, sport and auto modes. 

Performance

The X720E has been designed with an obvious thought to how it feels in the hand. It is nicely weighted and with a slanted shape on its undercarriage, which makes it easy to both hold and support. This feels especially effective, when used underwater. 

Still images suffer from a long delay between pressing the button and the shutter actually releasing – perhaps as long as a second – though results are just about sharp enough. Pictures are notably contrast-heavy and with muted colours, although eight megapixel stills are actually very impressive. It’s a similar story with video; while the 1280×720 mode’s results aren’t exactly sparkling in HD detail, they are reasonably detailed considering the pocket convenience the X720E offers. 

Company: Polaroid

Website: http://www.firebox.com/

Contact: 0800 044 5010

Positives
  • Design; tactile materials; size and weight; simple to use.
Negative
  • Tiny LCD screen; no optical zoom; 3x digital zoom only.

Verdict

Genuinely impressive underwater, and sporting an excellent, rugged design that’s perfect for trips and dips. The easy to use X720E’s aquatic nature is matched by good value stills, and video that just about fulfils the brief for an occasional use gadget.