VidCon attendees get the first chance to buy the tennis ball-sized 360-degree camera as Samsung opens its virtual reality platform to user-generated content.
Almost four months ago, Samsung announced the Gear 360 camera, the company’s first foray into the growing market of 360-degree cameras. Meanwhile, we’ve seen the release of LG’s 360 CAM as well as the fantastic Ricoh Theta S. Despite the release of these cameras, many enthusiasts have been waiting for Samsung to release their version. In the meantime, the company has given out lots of Gear 360s to attendees of its annual developer conference, and many have been able to import them from Korea.
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Finally, Samsung has released more information regarding the device that affects those of us located in North America. The Gear 360 is set to retail at the price of $349 (which is around the same price range as the Theta S), though there has not yet been a set release date.
Samsung making Gear 360 available at VidCon
However, for those of us that simply cannot wait anymore to get their paws on this cool little camera, Samsung is making the Gear 360 available for purchase this week! The only catch: the camera is on sale “on a limited basis” and it’s available for purchase only if you are attending the VidCon conference in Anaheim, California, just outside of Los Angeles.
“Details about additional availability will follow later in the year,” Samsung said in its press release regarding the Gear 360.
Introduced earlier this year at the Mobile World Congress alongside the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, the Samsung Gear 360 is a lightweight, portable camera containing two lenses that can capture 360-degree photos and videos. The technology giants had said at the time that the device would first ship in the second quarter of 2016, and it did, just not in the United States.
Impressive 360-degree specifications
Weighing only 5.39 ounces, the Gear 360 is Samsung’s first attempt at creating a consumer-friendly device in which to get people interested in creating more virtual reality content, especially concerning 360-degree media. The Gear 360 comes equipped with tools and a mobile app to boot that allow filmmakers to edit and share those special moments.
The device is equipped with two f/2.0 fish-eye lenses that each take 195-degree photos and videos. The device stitches the two together automatically, creating a fully immersive 360-degree video or photo. The camera supports photos up to 30 megapixels, and also takes near-4K videos when captured at the highest resolutions (3840×1920).
Additionally, the camera can hold up to 128 gigabytes of storage with a microSD card, allowing for around 7 hours of video at the highest possible resolution. The device will have up to two hours of battery life, as it comes equipped with a 1,350 mAh lithium-ion battery.
The company has also launched a new initiative called Samsung Creators that will see the company partner with various video shooters and curate content for the Samsung VR platform. Samsung is currently working with well-known YouTuber Casey Neistat to “spotlight emerging creators from YouTube and push the creative boundaries of 360 video storytelling.” The company is also launching a competition next month in which they will pick 10 winners who have made creative virtual reality content with Samsung products.
“VR is amazing, but it is in its infancy,” said Samsung research executive Injong Rhee at the company’s developer conference in April. “It’s not just for professionals. It’s for consumers as well. With our introduction of the Gear 360 camera, we enable more people to create VR content.”