Doing dumb sh*t in 360°!
First released in 2016, Samsung’s Gear 360 camera was aimed at YouTubers looking for a fancy way to gain more views while they went dirt biking or drove around the Las Vegas Strip. It was full of issues that made it somewhat tricky to use and gave it limited functionality. Never one to rest on their laurels, Samsung has redesigned the Gear 360 camera for 2017, and it’s come a long way with only a few small issues. Fun and easy to use, this handy little camera is one of the best values on the market.
Gear 360 Compatibility
To use the Gear 360 you’ll need either a Samsung phone or an iPhone. In a somewhat confusing move, Samsung has decided to eschew other Android devices in favor of iOS based iPhones and Mac’s and the result is somewhat mixed. While it does offer some versatility and options for iPhone users the corresponding iOS apps are spotty and don’t work well. The Samsung app works like a charm and makes the Gear 360 a great accessory for taking immersive video so long as you have an S6 or higher or an A5-A7.
The 2016 version of the Gear 360 was large, about the size of your fist and mounted on a tripod, but the 2017 version has been slimmed down to a smaller camera globe that sits upon a small neck that contains the battery. Equipped with a standard tripod socket, you’ll be able to use your own tripod. There’s also a rubber ring around the base to help keep it in place when you want to skip the tripod, lighting rig and catering table.
While the Gear 360 is rain resistant it’s not waterproof so don’t try to take it swimming or in the shower (no one needs that 360° performance). Charge it with a standard USB-C port and video is recorded to a microSD memory card. The battery is sealed in, but you’ll still be able to use it while it’s charging. You’ll find the battery lasts about 90 minutes while recording in 4K and about two hours when you take the resolution down to 2K. The two camera lenses on the Gear 360 are located close together which reduces stitching problems while recording 4096 x 2048 4K video at a rate of 24 frames per second. The two image sensors operate at 8.4 megapixels each, producing 15 megapixels, 360-degree still images.
Gear 360 App
The companion app for the Gear 360 is updated along with the camera and will automatically stitch and convert your video to the well supported H.264 format at full resolution. This allows you to work with full quality video right on your phone. While the app works great for Samsung phones we found that it wasn’t quite as easy to work with on iOS devices with difficulties transferring files and the app constantly crashing.
Users will appreciate the matching desktop software and find it easier on video storage since a single video can take up to 450 MB for every minute recorded.
The new Gear 360 has more pixels than its predecessor but not by a lot with only a 13% increase, but since it’s a spherical video every pixel helps. Adjust frame rates easily, 24fps on the Gear 360 will deliver a cinematic look while 60fps will be perfect for fast action sports.
The 2017 Gear 360 offers improved video quality over the 2016 version but objects in the distance can be somewhat blurry and there are some issues with exposure differences between the two lenses. I’d rank the quality somewhere similar to a 720p 16:9 video.
Live Streaming in 360°
The live streaming quality isn’t quite as good at only 15fps and a lesser 1920 x 960 pixels opposed to the regular 4096 x 2048. This is the price to pay for real time broadcast and stitching. You can’t stream directly, but when you’re using the app you’ll be able to relay your video through the Gear 360 app to Facebook Live or YouTube. You’ll need to be running a Samsung phone with Nougat or use your desktop software while the Gear is connected via USB.
The Eyes of an Eagle…
A solid and affordable camera, the Samsung Gear 360 is one of the best 360 cameras for consumers on the market. You’ll need a Samsung phone to use it properly as it doesn’t support other Android phones or an iPhone, though we found the iOS app was spotty. There’s no in-camera stitching and it’s not waterproof, but if you have the software and don’t plan to take it deep sea diving the Gear 360 is the best option. What will you use the Gear 360 for?
Homemade 360° porn is going to be kinda’ sad…