Gear 360 First Impressions

Blog Posts ,Random Musings
July 18, 2016

Hey everyone!

I’ve had my Samsung Gear 360 (affiliate link from the buyer I got mine from!) for a little over three weeks now, so I figured it was time to do a first impressions post about it to share what my experiences have been so far.

I purchased the Gear 360 from a third-party seller on Amazon and was pleasantly surprised when it showed up almost a full week early – I actually went straight home from work and grabbed it before heading down to SVVR, where I put it through a not-so-vigorous-test of snapshots in the presentation space and demo hall. There were a few things that I’ve noticed that I’m working through in particular which have kept me from being able to take full advantage of the camera, but I’m in the process of fine-tuning things:

  • The Samsung 360 app doesn’t work on my Galaxy S6 Edge – it has a dependency on the App Service, which isn’t supported on my (unlocked, international) device. Thankfully, I had a spare phone that I use exclusively for demoing in my Gear VR, where it did install, so I’ve been using that for quick stitching
  • I didn’t realize that the camera came with a product key for Action Director, and threw it away (!) because the manual was entirely in Korean. Thankfully, someone mentioned it to me on Twitter that same day, and I was able to dig it out of the trash. I haven’t been able to use Action Director yet, but I took a bunch of photos on vacation this past week, and I’m going to use Action Director when I get back to stitch those and do post-production
  • I really want a waterproof cover for this camera, but because of the shape, it’s a tall order for now. I read online somewhere that Samsung is manufacturing one, but for the time being, I’ve been extra cautious with taking it around water and transporting it in a plastic bag.
  • The quality settings for video weren’t set to the highest resolution, which took me a while to realize, and the mobile app only keeps the full resolution for stitching on the S7 version of the phone, which I don’t have, so my videos have been dropping in quality from when I take the video and when I post it someplace. Action Director should fix this, which is one of the big reasons why I’m excited to try it out on the desktop.
At the Reactor

At the Reactor

Using a selfie stick has been a huge plus in taking 360 photos!

So far, I’ve been sharing the pictures I take on Facebook, the videos on YouTube (you need to inject some metadata into the file for it to be recognized as the 360 format, which Google provides in a downloadable program) and using Vizor for shareable links. I’ve also been working on a simple project in Unity to do a tour of the Microsoft Reactor. There are quite a few other options out there – turns out the Theta sharing gallery also works – and I’ve also done a few simple A-Frame sites too.

Overall, I’ve been really pleased with the Gear 360. There are a few things that I’ve noticed that haven’t been great – the stitching on the app isn’t always done well, and the white balance on the separate lenses can be substantially different inside if there are windows on one half of the scene – but I think it’s been a pretty good buy for the price, and I’m really excited to continue pushing it to see what kind of videos and pictures that I can end up with when I get some practice in!

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