Should the new Samsung Gear 360 be on your to-buy list?
Rounding up the pros and cons
Virtual reality and 360-degree photos/videos have been some of the top digital trends in recent years. The novelty of it has barely worn off and people are starting to not only be amazed by a 360 photo/video, but also interested enough to pick up the gadgets for it. More so after YouTube and Facebook made it so easily viewable on their platforms.
Samsung is one of the popular brands that noticed this interest and turned it into one of their products—last year's Gear 360 and this year's new-and-improved Gear 360 (2017). Intrigued, I took it on a trip to review its potential as a travel must-have.
1. The size and design
The most noticeable upgrade for the new Gear 360 is its smaller, handheld design—small enough to even fit in your pocket. Compared to its predecessor, which was shaped like an eyeball, one can easily hold the new Gear 360's body to take photos and videos, and the shutter button is now more accessible. It also comes with a ring strap to act as a stand to prop up the device to record/snap hands free. Personally, I don't feel the ring strap helps much. Stick with a tripod or monopod. But otherwise, its portable and lightweight size is a welcoming factor.
2. It offers 4K video support
Designed with the millennials who love sharing their favourite and special moments with friends online, Samsung equipped the new Gear 360 with 8.4-megapixel images sensors and Bright Lens F2.2 on both dual fisheye lenses. Videos are of high quality and still images (photo resolution is 15 megapixels), crisp—perfect and enough for social media sharing. It also has live streaming capabilities and better stabilisation support.
3. Is it iPhone-friendly?
Yes, it is. Compared to the previous model, the second-generation Gear 360 is compatible with both Samsung and iOS devices, as well as Windows and Mac computers. I tried it with both my iPhone 7 and the new Samsung Galaxy S8+. As mentioned, it does work with the former but can be slightly laggy at times. For a seamless experience, it is still better to use it with the Samsung smartphone where it connects almost instantly with no hassle every single time.
4. Multiple viewing modes, editing tools and photo effects
If anything, the new Gear 360 is truly built for sharing digital content. Take your photos and videos a step further and play with the various viewing modes. Turn it into a bubble shape, a panoramic photo, dual view or crop a particular view in the shot. Apart from the first option, the images in the other modes might not be as high quality. Alternatively, you can also use one side of the dual lens which will produce a fisheye effect.
5. The smaller details
It's splash- and dust-proof; supports up to 256GB external microSD; has a longer battery life than the old one (I could go without charging it for almost two days); works decently under lowlight (the older version would produce grainy imagery); and is able to take a time lapse videos.
All in all, the new Samsung Gear 360 does make for a friendly travel accessory, be it for photos or videos. It just takes getting used to, and using a tripod. At the beginning, no matter how I tried, my hand would still end up in the shot. Raising my hand above my head was the closest I could get to avoid seeing so much of my hand. The quality of the photos and videos is enough for sharing on social media, which is where most of my travel photos end up anyway. Take it out on a day with gorgeous weather and you'll get equally stunning pictures and videos, and your money's worth.
The new Samsung Gear 360 retails for RM999. For more info, visit the website.
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