LAS VEGAS – The world of 360-degree video recording cameras is dominated by less-known brands and Kickstarter-funded projects. Now Kodak is hankering for a piece of that pie, showing off its Pixpro SP360 action camera at the CTIA tech show this week. I had a chance to play around with the small boxy shooter, which will retail this fall, with a bundle of accessories, starting at $350.
Just slightly larger than a roll of film (remember what that was?), the SP360 looks like a teeny R2D2 without the legs. It’s a small rectangular box in the familiar Kodak yellow, with a black, dome-shaped camera that protrudes from the top.
MORE: Best Waterproof and Rugged Cameras of 2014
The SP360 can shoot video in four ways – front, 360-degree panorama, round (more on that later) and dome. Round records two simultaneous videos, one of the front 180-degree vista and one of the back. Dome captures 360-degree footage from the top portion of the scene, creating a dome-like view.
The 16-megapixel camera carries a rather small 1/2.3-inch sensor. We'll have to wait for sample images or a review unit to see what kind of picture quality that will deliver, since the demo unit wasn't hooked up. Its onboard 1,250-mAh battery will last you through 160 minutes of video recording at 1080p and 30 fps or 350 still pictures, based on the CIPA battery-testing standards.
SP360 is capable of shooting stills at up to 10 frames per second, and supports a somewhat limited ISO light sensitivity range of ISO 100 to 800 — limiting you to bright-light shooting. With Wi-Fi and NFC support, the SP360 connects wirelessly to devices running iOS 6 and later or Android 4.0 and up via the Pixpro SP360 app. You can insert a microSD card to record your clips directly to the card.
On the camera are physical buttons to start recording, power on/off, or launch a menu to view on the 1-inch LCD monitor, which also shows status indicators such as battery level. A tripod mount at the bottom lets you attach the camera to compatible mounts.
Other 360-degree cameras on the market are larger than Kodak’s cute little SP360. VSN Mobil’s V.360 is hefty and will likely cost around $500 (a price hasn't been announced). The 360Cam is slightly larger than a fist and retails for $500. Kodak's $350 package for the SP360 includes an Explorer Pack of accessories consisting of helmet straps, four different mounts (bar, adhesive) and a housing unit.
The SP360 made its first appearance earlier this year, but Kodak says this version is the newest and will retail in the fall.