October 19, 2017

360° Heats Back Up With the 17-Camera 360 Round from Samsung

Just as Nokia exits, Samsung enters the professional 360 camera market.

Market leader Nokia is leaving the 360 space with the end of its OZO platform, but only days later, Samsung is moving in to take Nokia's place, at a significantly lower price.

Samsung already has the $170 360 Gear camera, but that is clearly targeted at consumers without the image quality and controls that a professional will want. However, with 17 cameras, 6 microphones, 4,096 x 2,048 30fps livestreaming, and IP65 weather protection, combined with Samsung's expertise in imaging from its mobile platforms, the new 360 Round all-in-one has the potential to shake up the professional 360° capture market.

Credit: Samsung
Internal stitching for livestream will surely be one of the killer features of this platform. One area of VR that has grown tremendously this year is livestreaming, giving users with VR headgear the ability to feel "present" at events like movie premieres, sports games, and political actions in a way that audiences never could before. The small form factor of the 360 Round and its inconspicuous black color (better when covering an event than the bright white of competitor's cameras) make it a great choice for this type of use.

Keep in mind, however, that livestreaming will require tethering the Round to a pretty beefy machine, with recommended specs including not just one but two GTX 1080 graphics cards to handle the processing needed to livestream the 3D VR. While some might be frustrated that all that external power is required when working with the camera, it's actually something of a relief, since it takes that processing out of the camera and moves it into a separate box where graphics cards are cheaper and easier to upgrade if you burn through them, and keeps the camera head itself smaller. Trying to cram the level of GPU power needed to livestream into the camera body would make it prohibitively expensive and require custom hardware, whereas building an off-the-shelf GTX1080 machine will be costly but likely won't break the bank.

Post processing isn't nearly as intensive and will require only a single GTX 1080.

Credit: Samsung

It's also nice to see an aggressive push towards, not just capturing surround audio with six microphones, but also allowing for two external audio inputs, which should work well if using an external audio mixer or simply wanting to use a wireless microphone with a host. Surround audio is a huge part of creating truly dynamic immersive experiences and it's a key element to master when crafting content for the new medium.

The cameras will begin shipping this month for $10,500. While this is much more than the Insta360, it's still less than half the final price on the OZO.

Tech Specs:

  • 17 f1.8 cameras 1/2.8-inch, 2MP image sensor /li>
  • 6 microphones, with two mic inputs
  • 4,096 x 2,048 30fps livestreaming
  • LAN and USB-C
  • Accelerometer, gyryoscope
  • 50GB internal memory
  • Up to 2tb internal SSD or 256GB SD card for storage
  • 1.93kg, or 4.25 pounds
  • 205 x 205 x 76.8mm
  • 19V, 21.1A power input
  • MP4 (H.265/ H.264)

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