It seems like a highly logical idea; take a Bluetooth headset and add video functionality for head-tracked video recording on the go. Despite an interesting approach to socialising your video via smartphone apps, the Looxcie LX2 still needs some improvements before it becomes a must-buy prospect. As I was testing the Looxcie LX2, Andy Warhol's quote about fame kept rattling around in my head, and with good reason. A good part of fame when he said it related to being on camera, but these days, almost everyone has a camera with them at all times; it's usually just the cheap optics found in most smartphones, but it's a way for all of us to record our lives as they progress.
It's that same market that the Looxcie LX2 aims to target. The Looxcie itself is a Bluetooth headset camera with inbuilt 480P recording capability and streaming apps that work with Android or iOS. It comes in two configurations; the entry level $249.95 model with five hours of recording time, or the higher end model with ten hours of recording capability which sells for $279.95.
What I liked
If you've ever wanted to wander around like the cops in a low budget science fiction movie, the Looxcie LX2 is for you! There's something undeniably interesting about wandering around and being able to record video at will without having to unlock a smartphone or for that matter worry about focus controls beyond where you flick your head. It thus forms a lightweight companion to things like a Contour or GoPro camera; while the Looxcie isn't as robust, it's also a lot lighter and easier to carry around.
Looxcie's clearly got that semi-active market in mind, as it's possible to buy a variety of mounting accessories for the camera; by default all you get in the box is a ear loop.
The Looxcie LX2's recording mode includes a small red recording light at the base of the lens; given its consumer focus -- and the sad fact that somebody out there always tries to find a way to use a camera to record things they shouldn't -- this is a feature I rather liked.
What I didn't like
Looxcie's opted to split the smartphone functions of the camera across a number of apps; LooxcieCam is the basic recording package, while LooxcieMoments handles playback and LooxcieLive allows you to livestream out to pre-approved friends also running the LooxcieLive app. The really obvious point that Looxcie will hopefully take into consideration for future iterations is that there's really no reason to split these functions across many applications; it'd not only be easier to remember which app covers which function, but would also lead to less clutter for smartphone users.
At 22g the Looxcie LX2 isn't incredibly heavy, but if you're used to a Bluetooth headset, it's still heavier than many, and undeniably bulkier than most as well. The ten hour recording model might seem like the much better buy, and in one respect that's true, but it's worth keeping in mind that it's rated for only four hours of recording battery life.
The video quality out of the Looxcie at 480P is pretty much what you'd expect, but audio's a distinct drawback. When using it as a Bluetooth headset pickup is quite decent, but recording audio reveals the poor quality of the inbuilt microphone. You'll hear a lot more of yourself breathing, and a whole lot less of the surrounding area than you'd ideally like.
When using it with the ear loop, it's also something of a task to make sure you're accurately framing what you're looking at; because the loop sits on your ear the camera naturally sits a little lower than your eyes, which means its framing isn't quite what you're looking at. It is possible with a little practice -- or the Looxcie apps -- to adjust to this, but there's no way to inherently stabilise the loop, which means that you're looking at some serious head-bobbing action while you shoot.
Should You Buy One?
The Looxcie LX2 is a really niche focused product; I could see all kinds of small use operational functions for it in businesses that needed constant recording -- sticking it on a police helmet, for example. But in the consumer sphere, and especially up against things like the GoPro or Contour it lacks that extreme sports robust edge. Against the simple use of things like smartphones -- many of which do a much better job of audio capture than the Looxcie LX2 can manage -- it really struggles. There's the promise here of some genuinely interesting social media sharing, but the apps and the camera need a little tweaking before it's quite there.