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360 Cameras Become User Friendly

By: Todd Stabley

In the 360 camera space, we’re seeing a continued shift toward user-friendliness as more contenders follow the path set by the $200.00 Nano360, which broke ground late last year. The genius of the Nano360, which we wrote about here, is in its direct integration with the iPhone via Lighting, allowing you to use the iPhone as a monitor, and in its versatile social media integrations that make it easy for users to quickly publish content after creating it. Earlier generations of 360 cameras to a large extent have suffered from the inability to easily publish or edit your videos and photos unless you first download them from the camera’s SD card to a computer. Many of these devices have also been plagued by buggy phone apps that can make pairing your camera with a smartphone a headache, as a quick scan of the reviews for some of these apps attests.

The new Ion360 camera, available for pre-order ($250.00) for iPhone 7/ 7 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S8/ S8 Plus, is building on the success of the Nano360 and adding full 4K resolution. Like the Nano360, the Ion360 snaps on to your phone. It doesn’t look like the Ion360 can work in standalone mode like the Nano360 can, but unlike the Nano360 it includes an iPhone charging battery case.

Interestingly, the brand new Essential Phone built by the “Father of Android,” Andy Rubin, and announced on May 30, 2017, includes its own snap-on 360 camera, which gives further credence to the idea that 360 cameras integrated into smartphones are the wave of the future. If you need a 360 camera built for specialized purposes, such as one that is especially rugged and/or waterproof, you may want to go with a traditional model, but these new integrated devices are certainly worth a look, especially given their relatively low costs.

One additional note–the popular Ricoh Theta S is due for an update soon to full 4K/30, as Steve Toback wrote about as part of this year’s NAB report.

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