Don’t call the QBIC MS1 POV Action Camera “wearable”; sure its palm-sized shape may make it well suited for one-hand inconspicuous use, but it’s too heavy to wear on a label or affix to a shirt. The wide angle lens — emphasis on “wide” — emulates the point-of-view that the human eye sees and can vary from a very wide 185 degrees to 135 degrees (with 165 degrees as a middle setting). This means the QBIC has a view that works well with action scenes and those requiring a lot to “real estate” being jammed into the recorded image, for example a landscape or a large group of people.
The QBIC can shoot both still images (5 MP resolution) and HD video (up to 1080p resolution). Pictures can be shot singly or in a burst mode of 10 a second. A second video mode (Super Hi-Speed WVGA — 240 frames per second) captures video such that, played back, it’s like looking at extreme slow-motion. All of this is accessible directly from the camera’s controls — the left side having the movie tab and the top having the photo tab. The other controls on-camera consist of a power tab at the upper left top and an interface pull-out section on the right. This covers the micro-SD card slot as well as a USB socket which is used to charge the internal battery and a micro-HDMI socket for sending what the camera has caught to a TV. Accessories included with the camera provide cables for what has just been described. The internal microphone is stereo and provides good sound — since the camera has no moving parts, there is no surface camera noise to get in the way. But the “stereo” effect is very minor since the spacing between each mic element is minute. Nor can you add an external mic.
Using the QBIC requires first powering it up (accompanied by audio sounds and indicator lights) and getting used to holding it in one hand with the lens facing outwards since there’s no viewfinder. A hand will gravitate towards the thumb resting “bump” on the top with the forefingers on the bottom. This appears to have been planned by the designers. Settings must be done using an app and smartphone (an iPhone 5). A WiFi button on the side of the QBIC is pressed to initiate a WiFi connection which is then done on the phone’s settings. The app can now “see” the camera and so work through changes as to the lens’ angle of view and whether video will be shot in HD or the “Hi-Speed” mode. Files from the micro-SD card can also be transferred to the app for viewing — although the quickest and most efficient means for transferring what is on the card can be done at the same time the QBIC is being charged using USB and a computer. However, the fastest charging will be done if the USB cable is attached to an AC adapter. Battery time is dependent on use, but in general a days shooting on a charge should be possible — it was for me.
The QBIC also has another app that lets the iPhone be used as a viewfinder. An accessory bracket is included that attaches to the camera’s back and then grips onto the sides of the phone horizontally. Besides now having a viewfinder to “look” through, the camera can be controlled without having to use its “hard” controls. During my time with the QBIC, I rarely used it with the phone attached — the convenience of hand-holding it was too strong. While more conspicuous than a “wearable” camera, I still found that few noticed I was holding it when I took it out of my pocket — this being helped by its silent operation (and turning off the audio indicators). It’s the angle of view that makes the QBIC interesting to use, and the resulting images unique. I could shoot inside of rooms and small spaces and still know that I would be capturing everything around me. This came in handy when I stopped at a light on a one-way street and some insane person exiting a car wash across the street decided to wait out the light facing the wrong way. I decided to take a picture of the car just in case and knew the QBIC would catch not just the view of the car but also the surroundings, even though it was shot from inside the windshield.
I also found that the sensitivity of the camera kept colors looking correct and very little “grain” appeared, except when there was an extreme of low-light conditions (the camera does not have “night-vision” capabilities). This was as true of the photos as it was of HD video shot — although I discovered that the “Hi-Speed” mode requires more light than HD in order to function at its best. Bottom line: The QBIC MS1 POV Action Camera lives up to its name, while packing in features in a compact, hand-held design. Social media aficionados along with those looking for a camera that can capture photos and video in a unique fashion will find it a blast to use, and the $249.99 cost doesn’t sting.
Water-resistant, Macro function, Image stabilization
No Bluetooth functionality
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.