2017 Samsung Gear 360 priced at €249, ships April 18

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In the span of only two weeks, the design of the new Samsung Gear 360 camera was leaked, the device was announced at Samsung’s Unpacked event March 29, and is now officially available for pre-order (at least in Germany) with an April 18 ship date.

4K 360 for everyone

And now, we’re finally able to see what 4K video, 2K live streaming and improved stitching will mean for the Gear 360, in this playlist of 2017 Gear 360 user footage:

One big update is a significant improvement to the camera’s auto-stitching feature. The Gear 360’s stitching capabilities were never terrible, but could of course use improvement matching the exposure and white balance, in particular, across the scene. Now, the camera’s stitching is better than ever.

The stitching performance of the 2017 Samsung Gear 360 balances exposure and color across lenses much better than the previous model.

More ergonomic, less difficult to handle

The new camera, which offers 4K video, 2K live streaming and compatibility with iPhones, also boasts a smaller size (45mm versus 60mm for the first Gear 360) and a handle for easier grip. Previously, the fully spherical design of the camera and large lens size made it difficult to handle without touching the lenses (and, in one writer’s opinion, a bit too easy to drop). It’s also a bit lighter, weighing 130 grams versus the original 153 grams.

In addition to improved grip, the handle also houses the battery and SD card so the dual-lens sphere can be smaller and potentially reduce parallax issues.

In addition to improved grip, the handle also houses the battery and SD card so the dual lens sphere can be smaller and potentially reduce parallax issues.

Frame rate v resolution?

Although some have expressed concern that Samsung sacrificed frame rate for resolution—the new camera can shoot 4096×2048 versus 3840×1920 but at 24 fps rather than 30 fps—the 24 fps frame rate is the same as competitors’ cameras, the Nikon Keymission 360 and Kodak PixPro Orbit. Plus, it’s possible that the lower frame rate and slower shutter speed could perform better in low light situations. The camera has also exchanged its 15MP sensors for 8.4MP sensors, reducing photo quality from 30 mp to 15 mp.

Other changes include a support for micro SD cards up to 256 GB and a slightly smaller capacity battery (1160 mAh versus 1350 mAh), but improved longevity. The camera can record up to 130 minutes on a single charge before overheating, whereas the previous model clocked out at about 25 minutes.

The new camera will also be compatible with older Samsung devices, including the A5 and A7, and iPhones 6S and above running iOS 10, but there are functional limitations when using the camera with iOS devices (yet to be seen).

There will also be a new Samsung Gear 360 app, that will also work with existing Gear 360 cameras, which will allow users to switch views from 360 to stretched view, little planet, double view (one photo or video per lens) and panoramic view, and convert 360 footage to standard videos and photos.

The launch of the Gear 360 camera comes only a few days prior to the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy S8, Gear VR headset and controller, which will be available April 21.

For more information, visit Samsung’s website.

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