LG didn’t exactly blow us away with their lightweight 360 VR headset. Though an slimmer alternative to the bulkier headsets currently available, it didn’t really come together. When it came to providing an quality virtual reality experience it fell flat. Thankfully, the company’s 360 CAM delivers a more robust experience.
In fact, at its current price point, it’s a great product for those looking to delve into 360-degree video on the cheap.
Aside from that price, the biggest differentiating factor for the 360 CAM is it’s cylindrical design. Looking like a cross between a car key fob and a mini-remote, the 360 CAM feels compact and solid when held in your hand and inconspicuous when sitting on your desk. There’s even a little LED on the side that lets you know when it’s active.
The 360 CAM has two ports covered by a flap at the base. The first is a USB-C slot used for connecting the camera to computer and the second takes MicroSD cards. There’s also a grooved recess used to attach the 360 CAM onto a stand, if required.
If your needs are a little more relaxed, the 360 CAM sits fairly level on its own base. The plastic case the camera arrives in can also be turned upside-down for use as a mount, adding additional height and stability. Beyond that use, the hard plastic shell offers considerable protection for the camera without adding too significantly to its weight. Though the 360 CAM lacks the flexibility afforded to similar 360-degree cameras, it does require a lot less fiddling.
Featuring dual 13 MP wide-angle cameras, the LG 360 CAM records up to 2K pixel video footage and 16 MP panoramic imagery. My experience found the results produced by the camera were more-or-less good but they didn’t really blow me away. The quality of images themselves were good but there’s a faint blurriness that stripped the detail from anything further than away than a few meters from the camera.
Once you’ve got LG’s 360 CAM Manager application installed on your smartphone (it’s available for both Android and iOS devices), you’re able to connect to the camera via Bluetooth. From there, you can stream, record and watch footage taken with the 360 CAM.
Using the app, you can toggle between recording footage in 180-degree and 360-degrees. You can also toggle which lens to stream from. Frustratingly, LG don’t let you see out of both lenses at once – which can means recording can require some trial and error. You can use the 360 CAM to take traditional stills but it’s 360-degree output is markedly better and you’re better off holding onto a more dedicated device for this.
If you don’t have a smartphone handy you can also set the device to record using the flat round button on the side. Using the device in this way does feel a little rudimentary and reliant on guesswork – but it gets the job done.
On a more positive note, you can actually go in and mess with the camera settings to suit the environment the 360 CAM is set up in. There are four main settings on offer: one designed to capture fast movement, one for indoor footage, one for outdoor footage and one designed for nocturnal footage. There’s even a manual mode that lets you mess with things like ISO, brightness and colour warmth.
You can also use the app to check the battery life of the 360 CAM. The camera boasts a 1,200 mAh battery will keep an actively-used 360 CAM going for about an hour or so before dropping out. Obviously, this number changes based on whether you’re taking photos or videos.
In terms of storage, the 360 CAM comes with 4GB of on-board storage space, which can be further expanded with SD cards.
There’s also some integration with Youtube and Facebook, which eases the process of posting 360-degree content online. However, frustratingly, this integration doesn’t extend to other VR headsets. Videos taken with the 360 CAM weren’t even compatible with relatively-simple VR devices like Google Cardboard – meaning you’d be expected to view them on LG’s own headset.
At $199, LG’s 360 CAM is an easy enough to recommend. It’s about as inexpensive and accessible as 360-degree cameras are like to get. If you’re looking for a fast and cheap way to buy into the niche – whether you’re planning to start pumping out VR-ready content or just share better quality panoramas with your friends.