Pros: Small, light; Versatile Android and iOS apps
Cons: Low quality video; Not secure on-ear; Hard to aim without using app
Verdict: The Looxcie 2 is smaller and lighter than its predecessor, but fundamental issues remain.
The Looxcie 2 bills itself as a tool that lets you "live life as you record it," and it certainly satisfies that claim. The small, wearable camera continuously shoots video while hooked to your ear, and its free smartphone app makes it easy to quickly share your clips with anyone. However, with the compact design come some clear drawbacks, most notably poor video quality. The second generation Looxcie, while a step up from its predecessor, still has room to improve.
Physically, the 3.25-inch Looxcie 2 looks like an oversized Bluetooth headset, perhaps not a coincidence since it doubles as one. Unlike the original Looxcie, which had a more rounded shape, the second iteration has a nondescript, black body that hooks onto your ear using differently sized earbuds and loops to provide a customized fit. The exterior is simple and straightforward, featuring only a power switch, Bluetooth key and two recording buttons.
The Looxcie's tiny size makes it comfortable but, at the same time, difficult to control. The ear clip is flimsy and prone to slipping, making it hard to shoot steady footage. With no viewfinder unless operated with the smartphone app, it's impossible to know exactly where to aim the camera. On playback, many of our videos appeared off center, sometimes completely missing the intended targets.
How It Works
When turned on, the Looxcie constantly records video, but it doesn't save footage on its own. Hit the Instant Clip button, one of two recording options, and the camera immediately captures the last 30 seconds of footage taken with the device's "always on" function. For longer clips, there's also a standard recording option that rolls until you tell it to stop.
Additionally, the Looxcie can be used as a Bluetooth headset. The device even mutes the microphone during calls, allowing you to keep shooting without recording your conversation.
Though the Looxcie's small size and unique setup make it user-friendly, they're directly responsible for its shortcomings. It can record at up to 480p and 30 fps, whereas cameraphones and high-end wearable cameras shoot at 720p or higher. As a result, videos from the Looxcie came out muddled, with a noticeable lag whenever the camera moves--a problem exacerbated by the delicate ear clips, which allow the camera to shift easily.
For sharing, the Looxcie recommends downgrading the video quality even further, to 320p and 15 fps, to minimize upload time. The tradeoff here is clear: lower quality videos, but much easier sharing.
Looxcie's downloadable iPhone or Android apps allow you to edit and share clips on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The LooxcieCam and LooxcieMoments apps both transform your smartphone into a handheld viewfinder, a huge plus since the finicky camera can be difficult to aim on its own. You can even use the viewfinder to start and stop recording, meaning you won't misalign the boom when feeling around for the on switch.
LooxcieMoments goes one step further, letting you blast your videos out to friends and followers. Either select one of your clips or, by pulling up all the automatically captured raw footage, place crop marks to create a new one. If you witness something incredible that you can't wait to share, you can also instantly post the last 30 seconds of video on your social networks by pressing and holding the Instant Clip button.
Though finding and selecting moments to share is a snap--the minimalist interface makes it easy to navigate--we found that it took up to almost 10 minutes to crop longer clips and then upload or email them. You can always transfer your videos to a computer with a USB cable and then send them from there, though that takes away some of the fun and immediacy of sharing via smartphone.
LooxcieLive, the newest app for the device, lets you broadcast live video right from your phone, or catch what your friends are streaming from theirs. In a neat change from the usual livestream, Looxcie's forward-facing boom means viewers see what you're seeing, rather than just seeing you. Adding interactivity to the broadcasts, viewers can talk or type with each other during streams at the press of a button.
Though the app offers a novel livestreaming experience, it's hindered by its lack of ubiquity. At least for now, video can only be streamed to and from phones using the app; if your friends don't have the app, they can't see your stream. The app is still in development though, and a Web viewing function said to be in the works could go a long way to broaden its viability.
Storage and Battery Life
There are two versions of the Looxcie 2, a $150 model with up to five hours of storage space or a $180 version with twice that capacity. When shooting at 320p, both promise four hours of battery life; we easily got three hours out of a full charge with some juice left over.
For those who are worried about missing a moment, or who need to shoot video unencumbered, the $150 Looxcie can be incredibly useful. However, we still have similar concerns as with the original Looxcie, namely, keeping it steady on our ear, video quality and sharing limitations. Unless you're really concerned about capturing every single moment, your smartphone or a dedicated action camera, such as the Countour, will do a better job at capturing and sharing video.