The particular camera I’ll be testing this time is the Cube 360, made by unknown manufacturer. 360° in cameras name might trick you into thinking this camera records true 360° video . Well, it certainly tricked me. As much as I wanted a 360 degrees camera for little over 70$, it was too good to be truth.
So this camera doesn’t allow you to record behind. Rather it means it has no dead angle in front of you so it captures images in a circular shape more or less like our eyes, not like other cameras with the classic rectangular shape.
Well, it might sound a bit confusing, but after going through the review and watching few videos I made, you’ll understand how it works.
So let’s see it!
The Cube 360 is one of the few 360° cameras on the market but the dimensions are typical for this kind of camera (L x W x H) : 4.20cm x 4.20cm x 4.80cm / 1.65in x 1.65in x 1.89in. It can shoot videos with an angle of 360° x 190° at 30fps. The following are the full specifications:
- Chipset – GVT100M
- Image sensor – No information
- Lens – Wide Angle – 360° x 190°
- Video Stabilization – None
- Weight – 78g
- Size – 4.20 x 4.20 x 4.80 cm / 1.65 x 1.65 x 1.89 inches
- Screen Size – No screen
- Colors Available – 4 (Deep Gray – White – Blue – Yellow)
- Image Resolution – 1280 x 1024 (screenshots only)
- Video Resolution – 1024p (1280 x 1024 @30fps)
- Video Compression Format – H.264
- Video Format – .TS
- Image Format – JPEG
- Memory – External microSD up to 32Gb
- Battery – 1200mAh (non-removable)
- Charging – PC USB or AC adapter
- Video Output – None
- Built-in microphone
- Android APP Wifi
- iOS APP Wifi
- Connection – USB 2.0 (No data only recharge)
Box and Accessories
The box arrived without any damage. It’s made out of a rigid cardboard and was filled with plenty of accessories. Like many other generic Chinese cameras it’s difficult to figure out the brand name.
There’s no brand name on the box or the camera. On the website the information is very scarce but it seems to be a Soocoo brand camera. However since there is no brand on the camera, we have to classify it as a generic brand.
Inside the box you’ll find:
- 1x 360 Degree Action Camera
- 1x Bike Handlebar Holder
- 2x Flat Surface Base + 3M Sticker
- 1x USB cable
- 1x 1/4 Inch Adapter
- 1x Tripod Adapter
- 1x Short Connector + Short Screw
- 1x Long Connector + Short Screw
- 2x Velcro Fixing Belt
- 1x Chinese/English Manual
The accessories are compatible with GoPro or SJCAM accessories and allow the camera to be used in most situations except in one. The Cube 360 can’t be used in the water because there is no waterproof case available for the camera.
The mounts seems to be too rigid and aren’t perfectly matched. If you try to put two mounts together and turn the tightening screw too hard then at stress points the plastic turns white and eventually breaks. In fact one mount arrived broken in just such a way as you can see in the photo.
It’s disappointing that there is only one method to mount the camera with all the other accessories. This is the mount:
Without this mount you can’t use the accessories because this camera has ONLY the screw mount on it.
If you’re curious you can have a look at this unboxing video I made:
Unique design is one of a few things that are good about the camera. You can think of the Cube 360 as a cube with a big eye on the top! It looks quite appealing but its built quality is not on a highest level. If it’s shaken then you can hear some parts moving inside, which was a bit awkward.
It has a very simple design with a minimal number of buttons and ports. In the next two photos you can see an overview of all buttons.
- Power On/Off
- Wifi On/Off
- Recording Button
- SD card slot
- Micro-USB port
- Reset Button
- Recording Indicator
- Screw Mount
The plastic made buttons are mounted very poorly. When you press one, it moves in about every direction. You can’t be sure if the camera did what you wanted because there’s no “click” sound feedback. Luckily there’s a little LED light behind the power and WiFi buttons (a red light for power and a blue light for WiFi) which indicates certain action.
The recording indicator is a dim LED. Not only is it hard to see in bright conditions but worse still it’s the only indicator and it’s located on the front of the camera. If you’re behind the camera you can’t see if it’s recording or not.
Perhaps the most ridiculous thing that happened in my tests is that the USB port can be used only for charging the battery and NOT to transfer files to your computer! It’s absolutely unbelievable that you have to to install and remove the SD card every time you want see a video made by the camera.
Navigation and Usage
The Cube 360 WiFi action camera has no LCD screen, which means you can adjust settings only by using a WiFi app about which I will talk in a moment. It’s operation and navigation is quite sample. You can only turn it on or off, switch the WiFi on or off and record videos.
Most important question, how is the Cube 360’s video quality?
The first thing you notice is the super wide view angle. It’s comparable to our eyes (maybe a little bit less). The second thing is the strange shape of the video because it isn’t the classic rectangular 16:9 with a wide view on the lateral edges and something less on the vertical edges. Instead it’s like a fish-eye where you have a complete view all around in a circular shape with a 4:3 aspect ratio.
It also seems like the lens is in a long tube. This particular resolution and the big distortion can actually cause you nausea and headaches, mostly with videos having particular motions like this on the bike:
You can also see the very low bitrate of the camera in this video. The low bitrate produces giant pixels (I assure you this isn’t a Youtube problem) so if you want use this camera in a situation with lots of motion, this is the result.
In normal situations the camera is a little bit better but don’t expect a normal action camera: because the resolution is low and the angle is wide, the details are almost zero.
The colors are quite good and true-to-life. At night the camera allows you to see what’s around you as seen in this video. I used it as dashcam and it looks good.
During the day when there is alternating shadows and sun the camera is crap. When it’s in direct sunlight it’s all right but when it’s in the shade with light around it it becomes completely unusable.
The video ends up completely white as you can see in this video. The camera is in the shadow of my car but beyond it’s so sunny that it’s like I’m ascending towards the light in heaven!
In this video notice the difference between being in full light and being under the shadow of the trees at 0:51.
This camera can shot videos in just one resolution:
- 1280 x 1024 @30fps (incorrectly stated as 28fps)
There are four different preview modes:
- Hemispherical Mode
- Cirular Mode
- Segmentation Mode
- Panorama Mode
But these are just preview modes. It’s actually not possible to record videos in these modes. (I’ll have more on this topic later.)
The Cube 360 doesn’t take photos! I’m not kidding, this camera doesn’t take photos – it just takes a screenshot. A screenshot? Yes, because to “shoot photos” you must use the app on your phone as there are no shot buttons on the camera. Photos consist of a shot of the screen with the resolution being the same as the video (1280 x 1024).
The hilarious (or embarrassing) thing about this method is that the photos are saved not in the camera’s memory but in the phone! It’s absolutely crazy! Luckily the photos occupy only 100Kb (which again shows how low-quality these exported video frames are)
The audio quality of the Cube 360 is on par with the rest of the camera. The sensitivity of the mic is very low. To understand how low, watch the dash cam videos above again. I swear I had my radio on! Did you head it? I think not. For a good comparison see my reviews of the AEE MD10 or the Amkov AMK7000S. My car radio was playing at the same volume.
Given this strange sensitivity I expected classic distortion at high volume but it wasn’t so. This is a series of videos made in my car. The app was not well set but in the first one volume is less than a normal talking, in the second it’s hard to hear a conversation and in the last one you can’t hear yourself.
You can also listen to some street artists in this video.
This camera can’t record low volumes so don’t expect it to record a conversation.
Battery Performance and Memory
Like other cameras without a screen the Cube 360 has good battery life. The battery life is also helped by the quite low resolution and poor processor. There’s no battery status indicator.
The results are:
- 1280×1024 – 183 minutes (WiFi off)
- 1280×1024 – 91 minutes (WiFi on)
- Recharging time – 135 minutes
Let me say a couple of words about the memory. With 183 minutes of video (3 hours and 3 minutes) I thought it exceeded the memory, but it wasn’t so. Three hours of video occupies only 2.92GB! This is possible because the resolution is low, the frame rate is no more than typical and it has a ridiculously low bit rate. For example the Cube 360 has a bitrate of 2,500kbps, the SJCam SJ4000 has 15,000kbps and the Amkov AMK7000S has 28,000kbps. This means that when recording motion with the cube 360 you will see huge pixels on the screen. I recommend you buy a 4GB memory card because a 32GB is a waste of money.
WiFi and App
The Cube 360 has WiFi and the app can only be downloaded from the Soocoo website or from the back of the user manual with the QR Code. This app is the only interface between you and the camera. This is what you see with the app on:
- Shooting Angle or Angle of the camera (red)
- Shooting Mode (green)
- Options (blue)
- Shooting photos (pink)
The shooting angle is the position of the camera and it serve for the next settings.
Preview mode. In these section there are 4 preview mode. Do not confuse PREVIEW with SHOOTING. With these settings you can change ONLY the PREVIEW on the app NOT the real shooting mode, it exist one mode and it is the same of the previews videos. Then this feature is completely useless.
The 4 view mode, from the left to the right are:
It is a zoomed view of the general view of the camera, you can move the screen and look in every direction touching and sliding on the screen.
Circular: Is the same thing of the hemispherical mode but instead of touching and slide the screen you must use the accelerometer of the phone, then you must move the phone like a mentally ill.
If you set the camera with the lens in horizontal position you will have this kind of effect
If you set the camera with the lens of vertical position you will have this kind of effect
Panorama: this is the only recording mode you can use. Doesn’t matter what view you set, the camera records everything in this mode
The third setting are the “options“:
1 In this folder there are Video/Audio playback from the camera memory and from the phone memory
Setup Split Time is divided in 3,5,10,15 minutes
Lighting Frequency is divided in 50 and 60Hz
3 It is the button for Start Recording
4 It is the button to research the Wifi from the App
The last button on the app is the Shooting photo key, and obviously it serves to shoot photos.
The photos are just screenshots of the video without the graphics of the app. They have the same resolution as the video and the files are saved in the memory of your smart device, not in the camera.
I want you to know that to make those screenshots took me about 40 minutes because the app is incredibly unstable! This is what I saw in most of the 40 minutes
I wanted to check the maximum WiFi distance but I couldn’t due to the unstable app.
Over the app, this camera offer us an incredible software. In theory his work is convert the videos from .TS to .mp4 and change the shooting mode in post production, and this is the result:
What can I say? The only good things about the Cube 360 are the battery life and number of accessories but nothing more. ALL the other features, all the performance, are completely unusable or just plain useless.
First of all camera name is quite deceptive and will trick many people into thinking this is a true 360 degrees camera.While the design is quite appealing, camera is very easy to operated and lightweight, its built quality is very poor.
Furthermore, some of the accessories arrived damaged and camera does not have an LCD screen, which is something many users want. The most shocking thing is that Generic Cube 360 does not take photographs, instead it provides you with frames from video at poor 1280 x 1024 resolution.
The only reason someone wants to get this camera is to record 360º video, but since it does not do that, there is really no point in purchasing it. I’ve used this camera for a while, and honestly, I just do not think it’s worth buying it. For me this camera doesn’t pass the test.
If you are looking for a true 360º camera, currently here are some alternatives (though their price is at least 5 times the price of Cube 360º). :