Zagg may be better known as a maker of Bluetooth keyboards, but add action cam to its gowing list of accessories. The company is branching out with a new “social camera, called the Now Cam. The product resembles more like a voice recorder than a typical POV camcorder.
The Now Cam is a lightweight and slim device you could easily fit neatly into a front shirt pocket. On one side, there is a camera capable of recording 720p video, with a 120-degree wide-angle field-of-view. The shutter button and mounting magnet (taking a page out of Polaroid Cube’s playbook) are on the other side. A mode dial on the top lets you quickly switch between video, six-second quick video (video burst), still capture, or file transfer. The built-in 4GB flash memory holds up to 30 minutes of video or up to 1,600 photos.
But unlike most action cams, the Now Cam also doubles as a Bluetooth speaker. You can stream tunes to it from your phone, or use it for hands-free calls via the embedded mic. With a 30mm driver, the speaker is very loud; whenever the device is activated, a voice prompt alerts you whether you’re in camera or speaker mode, and the booming voice fills a room easily – not a good thing if you’re trying to use it incognito. It works well for voice calls, but it’s not as clear for music as some of the larger Bluetooth speakers. Still, for when you’re at a beach or impromptu party, it comes in handy. Image quality, however, looks equivalent to early smartphone cameras; highly noisy in low-light situations, so it’s best to use it under bright lights.
Speaking of the beach, you can get an optional waterproof case ($30) that makes the Now Cam rugged. You can take it into the water (down to 6 feet), and the casing protects all parts of the device, without blocking access to the camera or speaker.
The downside is that there’s no way to adjust volume or make other changes on the device itself (you’ll need to do that on the source device). And, there doesn’t seem to be any way to do that via the companion Now Cam app (iOS or Android, via Wi-Fi). The app lets you download and share photos and videos, and turn off beeps, but that’s about it – fairly basic. You can also connect the device directly to your computer via USB, where it’ll pop up as an external drive. Unfortunately we’ve been having issues connecting the device to our phone, but that could be a early developer’s issue with the app (we’ll update once we get it resolved).
The magnet works with the optional bar mount ($20) that clips onto handlebars or bag straps, via an adjustable clamp. The magnet is fairly strong, so it’ll stay in place.
The Now Cam goes on sale in February, for $130; it comes in white or gray. Price wise, it’s competitive when compared to something like the Polaroid Cube+, although the Now Cam is deficient in video resolution. And, compared to a dedicated Bluetooth speaker, you can definitely get better sound. But the easy-to-pocket form-factor and the very loud speaker for voice calls could be the Now Cam’s advantages.